Monday, January 07, 2013

Science Pub

I got there early, skipped the beer line, and did some day jobbing using wifi.  The theater filled quickly, yet I still wasn't clear on the topic....

Suzanne tapped me awake.  I'd dozed off, having not slept much.  My finger was doing the "d" key in someone's program ("dddddddd...." over a thousand according to PyCharm).  No real damage, as I could easily refresh with a copy... She was there with a friend.

Chris sat to my left and introduced herself.  We compared notes on culture and music.  She proved quite knowledgeable.   She and Suzanne exchanged greetings.

Then came the quiz, which I was miserable at.

The lecture was all about this neuroscientist's family.  He was doing a lot of the teaching things I advocate, sharing autobiography, telling stories, connecting the dots, but not neglecting to share concepts and findings in STEM.

His slides had plenty of animations.  Larry Sherman, Ph.D. -- hadn't he done a talk here before as one of Oregon's most innovative? Ah yes, It comes back to me now, slowly.  Is it still Deja Vu if you've really seen it (or something like it) before?

The Bagdad's brightest projection bulb had died (exploded?) over the weekend and we were invited to not comment on screen dimness in our OMSI Pub evaluations, as this was a known issue.

Lots of talk about epigenetics.  The animations were of DNA coiling within coils of coils, but still translating, making proteins.  He went over the ultra basics.

Epigenetic factors might include a tightening of some coils, making them less likely to translate, thanks to supporting proteins (animations for this).  This isn't about sequences jumping, but about multiple systems impacting one another, being a part of one bigger process: the passing along of karma.

Yeah, it sounds weird to say "karma" there, so lets say "momentum" which is conserved.  I've been reciting this mantra, "momentum for a distance in a time".  The somewhat blurred picture registers a change in position for the time the film was exposed to the information.

Lights, camera, action.  The units of action are momentum for a distance, whereas energy is action in a time (at a frequency).  I think of cartoons with repeating backgrounds.  Ripple effects, consequences.  "Karma" might sound too judgmental, whereas if you're more psychoanalytic about it then you see most karma as unconscious and not really the ego's affair (unless the ego needs to get heroic and effect some changes -- a new level of "go gettum" in the animal kingdom).

Before the speaker part started, a father and son played miniature ukelele and banjo type instruments.  No singing.  I've already lost the memory of the band's name, which was projected and repeated. The audience was a appreciative, Larry had a good segue into his talk.

Our speaker recounted finding out he'd been adopted and ultimately wanting to know more about his biological parents and siblings.  He was astounded to find his academic career had taken him to his ancestral lands, before he had a clue they were ancestral.

I won't recount the whole story here, as it sounded like, after a couple more presentations, the theater might pick this up.  The neuroscientist is also into theater, music, sports.

His biological mom had been diagnosed with schizophrenia at way too young an age, and given electro-shock treatments.  Her own mother had been traumatized... it's tempting to relate more of the story.

So how much of who we are depends on "free will" and how much on "machinery"?  That seems to be the polarity.  People wonder about automaticity and to what extent they have any choice in the matter.  One has choice in one's level of acceptance.

Chris considerately shared half a Luna bar and cough drop candies.  She even brought me water.   Suzanne was saying I looked really sleepy (she'd awakened me after all).  After listening to the Q&A I stumbled home.