If you’re up for it, we’ve got TWO events coming up this Saturday. Feel free to attend one or both; or neither if we’re not cool enough for you yet.
First is one that’s not really “ours,” per se, but perhaps of interest to our members anyway. We did this last year, and folks really seemed to like it, so…
Event the First: Greater Chicago Food Depository Volunteer Day
The second annual atheist volunteer day has been planned at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, just in time for Thanksgiving. Atheists and allies are invited. The event will be from 9am-noon on Saturday, November 16 at the GCFD offices (map)… please try to arrive about 15 minutes early.
To RSVP, you must register at
Invite your friends! Bring your (14 and over) kids! And please! The food bank takes reservation counts seriously, because they plan each day’s work based on that number. Don’t RSVP and not show up.
Event the Second: Monthly Meetup – Now We’re Importing Fellow Nerds
This month’s Meetup speaker is one of our members visiting from Germany! Stephan has been kind enough to grant us some insight in his field and his research, so come join us at Black Rock* for a [sort of] informal talk about the fundamental of Biophysics and how this field is being utilized within the scientific community. The meetup will be at our usual 12:30pm time on Saturday, November 16.
Synopsis of This Month’s Talk:
Traditionally scientists have grouped themselves into experimentalists and theorists. However in recent years the increase in computer power and sophistication of software have given rise to a third category: computational scientists. Computational science tries to make sense of the ever increasing amount of data collected by modern experiments or predict the behavior of complex systems that can not be treated in standard theoretical frameworks. One prominent discipline relying on computers for its research is computational biophysics.
Computational biophysics applies physical theories to simulate complex biological systems. These simulations can shed light on some fundamental principles underlying life or help understand diseases on the molecular level. A formidable challenge in this research area is the wide range of time and length scales that are important. One example of this is the way our eyes work: Photons can change the structure of retinal (a form of vitamin A) in rod cells, which in turn affects the structure of the protein to which the retinal is bound. This structural change initiates a signal in the cell that is transported to the brain to process the visual input. To describe such phenomena the quantum mechanical interaction of the photon with retinal as well as the large scale motion of the protein have to be captured in the simulation. A very daunting task and the feat of developing methods that can address these questions was rewarded with this years Nobel price in chemistry.
The first part of the talk will focus on how this and others methods used by biophysicists work and how biological systems are modeled. The second part will present current research topics, such as protein folding, and their potential implications for biology and medicine.
About the speaker:
Stephan received his BSc from Umea University (Sweden) in 2010 and his MSc in theoretical physics from the Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz (Germany) in 2011. He is currently a PhD student in the Department of Physics at the Johannes Gutenberg-University and the Graduate school “Materials Science in Mainz” as well as a visiting research student at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Chicago. His research focus is the simulation and modeling of blood proteins in solution and at surfaces.
* Members will be notified in the event of a venue change.
Saturday, December 21
Location: Union Park Lounge
228 S. Racine Ave
Aluminum poles? Airing of Grievances? Feats of Strength*?
Chicago Skeptics will be celebrating it all…in a new location no less!
OK, so it’s not exactly a new location (we did celebrate the Mayan Apocalypse there after all), but it is a change from previous years. It means that our Festivus celebration has grown to be so awesome that it’s outgrown Skeptic Tower, which is great and sad.
So come out for some treats, drinks and great grievances with great people!
Donations will be accepted for both Festivus and our upcoming Skepticamp! If you’d like to help RIGHT NOW, please click the link below:
(Unfortunately, donations are not tax-deductible at this time. But they help us keep being able to host great events!)
*All physical feats of strength are to be undertaken off-site and at participants’ own risk.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Location: Jennifer’s Place
We’re trying something old and something new with this Salon: watching the film AND reviewing the book off of which the film is based…hence the earlier start time. For time reasons, we will [attempt to] start the movie promptly at 7:00 p.m., then move onto discussion of the movie and book.
From an old CS favorite, we revisit Jon Ronson’s propensity for madness and humor in The Men Who Stare At Goats. In the course of our discussion, let us delve into psychics, telekinesis and other supernatural phenomenon purported to have been researched by the U.S. Army and the reasons for pursuing said research in the face of evident lunacy.
Just when you thought every possible conspiracy theory had been exhausted by The X-Files or The Da Vinci Code, along comes The Men Who Stare at Goats. The first line of the book is, “This is a true story.” True or not, it is quite astonishing. Author Jon Ronson writes a column about family life for London’s Guardian newspaper and has made several acclaimed documentaries. The Men Who Stare at Goats is his bizarre quest into “the most whacked-out corners of George W. Bush’s War on Terror,” as he puts it. Ronson is inspired when a man who claims to be a former U.S. military psychic spy tells the journalist he has been reactivated following the 9-11 attack. Ronson decides to investigate. His research leads him to the U.S. Army’s strange forays into extra-sensory perception and telepathy, which apparently included efforts to kill barnyard animals with nothing more than thought. Ronson meets one ex-Army employee who claims to have killed a goat and his pet hamster by staring at them for prolonged periods of time. Like Ronson’s original source, this man also says he has been reactivated for deployment to the Middle East.
The other reviews and synopses can be found here.
Saturday, April 5, 2014 – SAVE THE DATE!
10:00 AM to
Oh, yeah, it’s on! We’re solidly in the planning for 2014′s Chicago Skepticamp! There will be many more announcements and updates on how you can participate/speak/volunteer/support this excellent venture. But, in the meantime, *Save The Date!*
What is a Skepticamp? Not a camping trip (though you know how we love those!) It’s a daylong mini conference where we learn about science, critical thinking and scientific skepticism from our community’s greatest resource: each other!
We encourage both new and veteran presenters to step up to the podium. More info coming soon!