We’re exploring the space where science and culture intersect, and we’re doing it over drinks.
Grab a brew and pull up a chair! This evening lecture series features some of the best minds in science in a fun, social environment. From the sensation of being hugged by an octopus to quantum mechanics, Science on Tap looks to answer questions you never knew you had!
Secrets of Spider Webs
by Dr. Cheryl Y. Hayashi - Curator, Professor, and Leon Hess Director of Comparative Biology Research
October 17, 2019
What is really known about spider silk? In this lecture, Dr. Hayashi shares results from the latest discoveries about the mysteries of silk synthesis, which spiders have held secret for several hundred million years. Spiders are the superstars of the natural world when it comes to spinning silk. Although they never evolved wings, spiders can use silk to go airborne and travel vast distances by ballooning through the atmosphere. Silk allows spiders to trap and subdue creatures that are many times their size. Capable of remarkable feats, spiders and their web-spinning abilities have been the inspiration for ancient legends, beloved children’s books, comics, and movies.
Soil: A Precious Resource Under Threat
by Dr. Jo Handelsman - Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vilas Research Professor, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor
January 16, 2020
Soil erosion remains a largely unrecognized crisis, and yet the loss of this precious resource threatens to cause mass starvation in a few decades. Throughout history, agricultural practices such as plowing have destroyed the architecture of soil, making it more vulnerable to erosion. Many civilizations have collapsed because their soil eroded, leaving people with no way to grow crops. Today, we see the same trend in the United States and around the world. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that, on average, soil erodes at a rate of almost five tons per acre per year from U.S. cropland. With soil being generated at less than one-tenth of this rate, the loss is simply unsustainable. Global warming accelerates the crisis, as more frequent severe rainstorms drive soil from the land and induce its release of carbon in the form of powerful greenhouse gases. It’s a vicious cycle, but there is a way out: To halt this crisis, consumers need to partner with farmers to make it feasible for them to adopt sustainable practices. The stakes are too high to ignore our nation’s soil.
April 11, 2019 - Dr. Mark Siddall - "Toxic Tales Through Time"
November 15, 2018 - Dr. Merlin Tuttle - "The Incredible World of Bats — Why We Need Them"
March 29, 2018- Dr. Takeshi Inomata - "Clues to the Origins of Maya Civilization Revealed"
November 2, 2017 - Dr. Justin Vandenbroucke - "Neutrino Astronomy at the South Pole"
September 28, 2017 - Mary Roach - "Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War"
April 27, 2017 - Jennifer Casey - "The Nature of Slow Food"
March 16, 2017 - Michael E. Mann, PhD - "The Madhouse Effect"
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