Global science meeting to offer free events for public Feb. 12-16

Steve Koppes
Associate News DirectorUniversity Communications

A science film showcase and a series of events with scientists will be offered free to the public Feb. 12-16, in connection with the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in downtown Chicago.

The “Mapping the Unseen Science Film Showcase” will take place from 5:30 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 12 at International House, 1414 E. 59th St. The event starts with an opening reception from 5:30 to 6 p.m., followed by the screenings and film discussion from 6 to 8 p.m., and the closing reception with filmmakers and scientists from 8 to 9 p.m.

In this program, presented by AAAS and Imagine Science Films, a spectrum of filmmakers and scientists investigate Earth’s surroundings both near and far. An Adler Planetarium program visits the upper atmosphere—the edge of space. Another film considers the laws of thermodynamics in an empty house. And finally, massive simulations of the expansion of the universe and blood flow through the brain are visualized using computer models and animation. Each film, or set of films, will be followed by a discussion of the themes between scientists and filmmakers.

For more information about the Science Film Showcase, see

The AAAS “Meet the Scientists!” schedule will include seven programs involving researchers from UChicago and two of its affiliated laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. All sessions are part of Family Science Days activities, which will take place at the Riverside Center of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Drive.

Saturday, Feb. 15

Noon: “Don’t Choke: Getting It Right Under Pressure”: Sian Beilock, professor in psychology, is the author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveals About Getting It Right When You Have To.

1:30 p.m. “The Power of Wind!”: Doug Sisterson, research meteorologist and senior manager for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Climate Research Facility at Argonne, will help the audience see and feel the power of wind, safely witness a tornado and learn how scientists study the awesome force of wind.

2 p.m. “Teaching Computers to Make the World Better”: Rayid Ghani, research director at the Computation Institute and the former chief data scientist for the Obama for America campaign, will discuss the Eric & Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good Summer Fellowship. The initiative trains students to apply computer science and data analytics tools to social problems including energy, health care and transportation.

2:30 p.m. “Mr. Freeze”: Jerry Zimmerman of Fermilab will perform his popular cryogenics show involving lots of balloons and liquid nitrogen, which boils at minus-321 degrees Fahrenheit.

3 p.m. “Art Meets Science: Picasso at the Nanoscale”: Volker Rose, Argonne physicist, will show how extremely precise microscopy allowed scientists to prove that Picasso used common house paint rather than traditional artists’ paint in some of his artwork. Just as criminals leave a signature at the crime scene, each batch of paint has a chemical signature that the scientists made visible using one of the most powerful X-ray microscopes in the world.

4 p.m. “The Mysteries of Mass and Matter: An exploration into the wonders of the subatomic world from the Higgs boson to the search for dark matter": Marcela Carena, senior scientist at Fermilab and professor in physics, is well known for her research on the famous Higgs particle and appeared in the documentary “The Atom Smashers.”

Sunday, Feb. 16

3 p.m. “Future Energy: Taking on Humankind’s Greatest Challenge”: Seth Darling, Argonne scientist and fellow of the Institute for Molecular Engineering, will explain why energy is at the heart of our future as a society and why we need to rethink where we choose to get our energy. Darling will show why solar energy, in particular, needs to play a major role in our energy future.

For more information about Family Science Days and to pre-register, see

For more information about the involvement of UChicago, Argonne, Fermilab and the Marine Biological Laboratory in AAAS’s 2014 annual meeting, see Twitter posts may be followed at #AAASmtg and #UChicagoAAAS.