February Monthly Gathering – Enrico Fermi— The Last Man Who Knew Everything

In December 1942, a team at the University of Chicago achieved a milestone in human history: The first nuclear chain reaction. At the forefront of this breakthrough stood Enrico Fermi, creator of the world’s first nuclear reactor, and, later, a key figure of the Manhattan Project. A man whose impact went well beyond these epochal events, revolutionized modern physics, and was awarded with a Nobel Prize.

But how did Fermi become Fermi? The answer, as you may guess, is not simple and straightforward. Join us at 7p.m, on Saturday, February 17, when David N. Schwartz, whose biography “The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age,” published by Basic Books in 2017, will speak about Fermi’s life trajectory and offer some perspectives on how this universal physicist – perhaps the last of his kind – was able to achieve what he did.  

David N. Schwartz received a BA from Stanford and a PhD from MIT, both in political science. He has written widely on various subjects, including defense policy and nuclear weapons strategy, as well as a recent book about the retailing giant Costco, “The Joy of Costco” which he wrote with his wife Susan. His father, Melvin Schwartz, shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in physics for performing the first high energy experiment studying neutrinos, and the discovery of the second type of neutrino, related to muon decay. 

The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm (EST) for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm (EST). Please remember that all attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-2024-Gathering . There is no charge for the Zoom presentation, but, due to rising costs, your donation via PayPal is greatly appreciated. Please donate $5! To donate go to http://www.paypal.com and click on the “Send Money” tab. Enter the e-mail address treasurer@nullmensadetroit.com and your payment amount. Be sure to include a notation that your donation is for “SEMM Zoom Presentations.”

January Monthly Gathering – Life Among the Stars: A Truly Cosmic Tale

Our study of the universe started with stargazing. Looking up at the stars connects us to a legacy of wonder and science stretching back thousands of years, in civilizations all around the world. While the night sky definitely inspires awe, early astronomy was also practical—farming according to the solstices and equinoxes yielded better crops, and more food fueled the growth of human society and innovation.

Today we know that stars are the essential sources of raw material in the universe, recycling and distributing the elemental building blocks of everything we observe: new stars, nebulas of gas and dust, planets, and even humans. All life on Earth contains the element carbon, and all carbon was originally formed in the core of a star.

The Universe is a huge place loaded with at least 200 sextillion stars but there could be as many as 70 septillion stars. (That’s a 7 followed by 43 zeros!) That means, that for every grain of sand on the Earth there are at least 10,000 stars. And there are many different types of stars as well. Varying greatly in their make-up and size. Some live several million years where others continue to function for up to 200 billion years. This presentation will attempt to illuminate the life cycle of different types of stars and will ultimately explain what we can expect from the future of our nearest star… the sun.

Join us on Saturday, January 20, when NASA Solar System ambassador Ken Bertin takes us on a tour of the stars. Mr. Bertin received his first telescope at the age of seven and has been an avid astronomer ever since. He has traveled to and observed ten solar eclipses, three annular eclipses and both transits of Venus. He has seen numerous Lunar and partial solar eclipses, photographing each type. Ken is past president of the Warren Astronomical Society. His stated purpose in life is “the acquisition of knowledge, and the imparting it to others.”

The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm (Eastern) for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm (Eastern). Please remember that all attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-2024-Gathering . 

There is no charge for the Zoom presentation, but, due to rising costs, your donation via PayPal is greatly appreciated. Please donate $5! To donate go to http://www.paypal.comand click on the “Send Money” tab. Enter the e-mail address treasurer@nullmensadetroit.comand your payment amount. 

December Monthly Gathering – What the Dog Smelled: The Science and Mystery of Underwater Cadaver Dogs

This program will be presented on Zoom only at 7:00 p.m. (Eastern), Saturday, December 16, 2023

In 2016 dive teams spent 12 days searching the waters of Elliot Lake in northern Ontario for the body of a drowned canoer and didn’t find a thing. When the cadaver dogs were called in, they needed just 15 minutes.

When a person drowns, their bodies may float to the surface. Alternatively, they may be snagged and held underwater, or if the water is deep and cold, they may never rise from the bottom. When bodies fail to rise, underwater searches by divers, especially in waters of limited visibility, are not always successful, and may be extremely hazardous. Consequently, cadaver dogs may offer another method of recovering sunken bodies that may otherwise never be found. Enter our guest speaker this month, Dr. Mary Cablk, the owner of Detection Science Solutions LLC, who is in the unique position of being both a scientist and a cadaver dog trainer. 

Join us at 7pm on Saturday, December 16, when Dr. Cablk will provide us with an overview of the world of cadaver dogs. These fascinating critters, with highly specialized training, are capable of picking up the scent of human remains buried more than ten feet underground, under collapsed buildings, or thick snow, and – most impressively, they can pinpoint the scent of human remains under almost 100 feet of water!

With a research career focused on applied science disciplines and decades of experience training, testing, and deploying detection K9s, Dr. Cablk possesses a unique skill set pertaining to the science of detection, both olfactory and optical. An internationally recognized expert, she has been fortunate to have been invited around the world to teach, speak and engage with detection K9 professionals in many disciplines, including human remains, explosives, narcotics, live humans, wildlife, and others. Dr. Cablk provides support for programs, provides expert witness consultation, translates detection science to practitioners, and addresses other needs relating to detection.

Dr. Cablk received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Virginia Tech, Masters Degrees in Environmental Science and Environmental Management from Duke and her PhD in Forestry from Oregon State.

The Zoom room opens at 6:30pm (Eastern) for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm (Eastern). Please remember that all attendees need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-1223-Gathering . 

There is no charge for the Zoom presentation, but, due to rising costs, your donation via PayPal is greatly appreciated. Please donate! The amount is up to you. To donate go to http://www.paypal.com and click on the “Send Money” tab. Enter the e-mail address treasurer@nullmensadetroit.com and your payment amount. 

October Monthly Gathering — The Occult Origins of Science

This program will be presented live and simulcast on Zoom at 7:00 p.m. (EDT), Saturday, October 21, 2023

Just in time for Halloween! Guided by Wayne State University professor Dr. Eric H. Ash, let’s take a look at how alchemy, astrology, and magic helped shape the modern scientific method.

Join us at 7pm, on Saturday, October 21, to gain a deep understanding of how the development of modern science represented less of a clean break from the irrational-seeming world of the occult, than an evolutionary emergence from it. Among the questions that you’ll hear tackled: Why did virtually all learned scholars in early modern Europe believe in the occult sciences? How did those sciences work? And what impact did they have on the development of modern science?

We’ll learn how throughout the Renaissance, magic, alchemy, and astrology seemed like perfectly reasonable and profitable pursuits to the scientists (or “natural philosophers”) of the time. During the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century, many leading scientific thinkers continued to regard the “occult sciences” as a means to understand and control the world around us. Such beliefs and practices did not really decline until the middle of the 18th century, and astrology arguably remains alive and well today

Dr. Eric H. Ash is a Professor of History at Wayne State University, where he is the recipient of their President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He received his doctorate in the History of Science from Princeton University and is a specialist in the science and technology of the Renaissance and early modern eras. Professor Ash is the author of two books, including his most recent, entitled The Draining of the Fens: Projectors, Popular Politics, and State Building in Early Modern England.

You’ll thank your lucky stars for having attended this fascinating talk! 

Please note that this program will be presented live and on Zoom. You can attend the live presentation, for a chance to also mingle with your fellow Mensans and guests, at our usual location:

Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church in Southfield
23925 Northwestern Highway
Southfield, MI 48075

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). The program begins at 7:00 p.m. (EDT). Please note that starting with this month’s gathering, admission prices for the live presentation will increase to $5 for Mensa Members, $6 for non-Mensans. Checks will no longer be accepted at SEMM events.

Following the presentation, please join us for dinner at Buddy’s Pizza, located at 31646 Northwestern Highway, in Farmington Hills, just northeast of Middlebelt Road.If you’d prefer to participate on Zoom, you’ll need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-1023-Gathering , The event’s Zoom URL and instructions for connecting will only be sent to those who are pre-registered. There is no charge for the Zoom presentation, but, due to rising costs, your donation via PayPal is greatly appreciated. Please donate! The amount is up to you. To donate go to http://www.paypal.com and click on the “Send Money” tab. Enter the e-mail address treasurer@nullmensadetroit.comand your payment amount. The Zoom room opens at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). for mingling.

September Monthly Gathering — Climate Change and the Transition to Clean Energy

Talk 7:00pm (EST), Saturday, September 16, 2023

A combination of advancing technologies and climate change concerns is driving a rapid transition in how we produce and use energy. The shift to solar and wind energy generation is well underway in the electric power industry, though unevenly across the country. Electric vehicles are now mass produced and capturing growing market share. There are government calls to switch to electric heating, and end natural gas pipeline connections. 

What can we expect during this transition?

Leading us in this discussion will be John Richter, Senior Policy Analyst and board member, of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association. Mr. Richter will cover such topics as: What is climate change? Why is the CO2 level rising? Prior transitions from wood, coal, oil, gas, and nuclear, and more.

John Richter is a co-founder of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Education (ISEE). He’s an expert witness in Michigan Public Service Commission cases and he has presented to the U.S. Congressional Staff on wind energy policy impacts. He has also presented renewable energy policy recommendations to Michigan Legislators and staff. He has a Master’s degree in Renewable Energy from Murdoch University, and taught solar energy at Macomb Community college. He has been a regular speaker at renewable energy conferences for more than two decades. 

Please note that this program will be presented live and on Zoom. You can attend the live presentation, for a chance to also mingle with your fellow Mensans and guests, at our usual location:

Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church in Southfield
23925 Northwestern Highway
Southfield, MI 48075

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). The program begins at 7:00 p.m. (EDT). Please note that starting with this month’s gathering, admission prices for the live presentation will increase to $5 for Mensa Members, $6 for non-Mensans. Checks will no longer be accepted at SEMM events.

Following the presentation, please join us for dinner at Buddy’s Pizza, located at 31646 Northwestern Highway, in Farmington Hills, just northeast of Middlebelt Road.

Donations welcome. If you’d prefer to participate on Zoom, you’ll need to pre-register by clicking on the following link: https://tinyurl.com/SEMM-0923-Gathering , The event’s Zoom URL and instructions for connecting will only be sent to those who are pre-registered. There is no charge for the Zoom presentation, but, due to rising costs, your donation via PayPal is greatly appreciated. The amount is up to you. To donate go to http://www.paypal.com and click on the “Send Money” tab. Enter the e-mail address treasurer@nullmensadetroit.com and your payment amount. The Zoom room opens at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). for mingling.