Feed Your Brain Lecture Series

Recurring Event
Recurs monthly on Sundays at 4:30 pm -
Location
Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Ave. Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Please join us at 4:30 p.m. on the third Sundays of every month for our FEED YOUR BRAIN programs.

These events feature fascinating authors, scholars, and luminaries from many fields that expand our knowledge and understanding of the world and the people who inhabit it. CFI's naturalistic approach to wisdom holds that there is no issue exempt from examination and discussion. Admission to these events is $8, or free for Friends of the Center, unless otherwise noted.

Held at the Costa Mesa Community Center
1845 Park Ave. Costa Mesa, CA 92627

1 block west of Newport and Harbor Blvd.

Please see upcoming lectures below.

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Upcoming:  

 

Joe Kirschvink

A New History of Life: Are We Really Martians?

Sunday, June 21
4:30 p.m.

Prebiotic steps that led to the origin of life on Earth are one of the largest mysteries of science. Nearly 15 years ago, Professor Joe Kirschvink and his student Ben Weiss (now at MIT) proved that meteorites could be launched from the surface of Mars, and travel through space to the surface of Earth, on low-temperature trajectories. Life, if it had arisen on Mars first, would have been transported easily to Earth.

In their new book, A New History of Life: The Radical New Discoveries About the Origins and Evolution of Life, Kirschvink and co-author Peter Ward argue that early Earth was most likely a "Waterworld" where many of the basic chemical reactions needed to form long-chain polymers would be unlikely to happen. In contrast, more recent discoveries from satellites orbiting and landing on Mars have since confirmed the existence of an ancient surface with free-flowing water, and perhaps even a north polar ocean. In particular, the volcanic gases from Tharsis would have erupted at elevations that were well into the oxone later of the ancient Martian atmosphere, providing abundant chemical energy for early life. Mars therefore had a complete range of chemical potentials, desert environments, and free-flowing water that meet the requirements for the origin of an RNA world. If this scenario is correct, our distant ancestors were most likely "Tharsians", not just "Martians"!

Kirschvink, who will be speaking, is the Nico & Marilyn Van Wingen Professor of Geobiology at Caltech, specializing in aspects of geological and biological magnetism. He proved the existence of low-latitude glaciation during the Precambrian time and formulated the "Snowball Earth" hypothesis to explain it. He also discovered how the mineral magnetite is used as a biomagnetic compass by honeybees, homing pigeons, and mammals, and is present in the human brain. Joe received a BS in Biology and a MS in Geology from Caltech in 1975, and earned his PhD in Geobiology from Princeton in 1979. He joined the Caltech Faculty in the Division of Geological & Planetary Sciences in 1981. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, and the Royal Institute of Navigation [London]. 

Ward is a professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington.  

Admission

Contributing members: FREE
Public: $8
Students: $4

 

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Peter C. Whybrow

Enlightened Experiments: Adam Smith and the Market in the Brain

Sunday, July 19
4:30 p.m.

That Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations was first published in 1776 is emblematic, suggests Peter C. Whybrow in his new book, The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience and the Life Well Lived. The U.S. is the grand experiment in Enlightenment thinking: a democracy founded amidst 18th-century preoccupations with mercantilism, Newtonian science and moral philosophy to be validated in its ideals by individual freedom, initiative and hard work rather than by arbitrary authority. In constructing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson--well versed in the writings of Locke, Hume, Hutcheson and Smith, among others--spoke eloquently for what the leaders of the American colonists thought they were or could be. Today, the U.S. has been the commercial world's economic leader and its richest nation for more than a century.

But, there is paradox. In the shadow of this affluence and extraordinary achievement, we live now with a demand-driven, stress-filled workplace, epidemic levels of obesity, and educational system that is stumbling, and a growing disparity in wealth between rich and poor. So how may we better understand this conundrum of "progress"? In tackling these challenges, are there principles that may guide us, going forward? In his lecture, Whybrow will argue that our affluent environment is compelling but does not fit easily with our biological heritage, generating a mismatch that threatens to disrupt both mind and body. By harnessing modern neuroscience to better understand who we are, the nature of markets and how we make choices, and by returning to ancient human truths that in our frenzy we now overlook, Whybrow will assert that we not only can live better individual lives, but also build together a thriving future that serves the common good.

Whybrow is the Judson Braun Distinguished Professor and Director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience anbd Human Behavior at UCLA. Born in England, Dr. Whybrow received his medical training in London and was a member of the scientific staff of the British Medical Research Council before migrating to American, where he taught at Dartmouth Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania before being recruited to UCLA in 1997. A man of eclectic tastes, he is a founding member and Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Knight of the Order of St. John, and a Fellow of the Mont Pelerin Society. A frequent advisor to universities, foundations, and government agencies, Whybrow has lectured widely across the U.S. and Europe, and is the recipient of many awards. He is the author of numerous scientific papers and six books, including the prize-winning American Mania: When More is Not Enough, which explores America's migrant culture and the impact on everyday living of the nation's extraordinary material achievements. Whybrow's provocative books have been translated and published widely in many languages, including German, Polish, Dutch, Italian, Finnish, Russian, and Chinese. (www.peterwhybrow.com) 

Admission
Contributing members: FREE
Public: $8
Students: $4

 

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Dave Zobel

The Science of TV's "The Big Bang Theory" 

Sunday, Aug. 16
4:30 p.m.

What's so hilarious about Schrodinger's cat, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and glow-in-the-dark jellyfish? The Big Bang Theory, TV's highest-rated sitcom, features an assortment of very smart characters wisecracking about these and other real-life high-IQ concepts -- and now you'll be able to, too. Part one-man colloquium, part comedy routine, this talk bu self-styled "science humorist" Dave Zobel won't make you the next Albert Einstein, but it just might show you enough of what's fun and funny about science to earn you a spot on Sheldon's couch.

Zobel has appeared as a talking head on G4 and Discovery and has penned segments for the radio shows "Stardate," "Day to Day," "Says You!," and "The Loh Down on Science." For the LA nonprofit Trash for Teaching. he designs STEM teaching kits out of rescued and repurposed manufacturer's discards. His new book, The Science of TV's The Big Bang Theory, explains a variety of science topics mentioned on that show, combining clear explanations with humor in a way that would undoubtedly appeal to even the most bobble-headed character on that show.

Admission

Contributing members: Free
Public: $8
Students: $4 

 

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Merchants of Doubt Documentary

Sunday, Sept. 20
4:30 p.m.

Inspired by the acclaimed book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, the Merchants of Doubt documentary will take us on a satirically comedic, yet illuminating ride into the heart of conjuring American spin. Acclaimed filmmaker Robert Kenner, who also made Food, Inc., lifts the curtain on a secretive group of highly charismatic, silver-tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities - yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats ranging from toxic chemicals to pharmaceuticals to climate change.

"It offends me when someone takes the skills of my honest living," comments magician Jamy Ian Swiss, who has appeared at our Center before and is featured in the documentary, "and uses them to twist and distort and manipulate people and their sense of reality and how the world works."

Admission

Contributing members: Free
Public: $8
Students: $4