Friend or Foe? The Two Faces of Microbes

The Two Faces of Microbes” describes what a microbe is, and then covers some interesting facts and perspectives about microbes. On one hand, they are essential to life, on the other, the can cause devastating and sometimes fatal diseases. McLellan talks about some epidemics that have shaped history, and how today, we are using microbiology to assess pollution sources in the Great Lakes.

Wisconsin Rocks!

Whatever rock genre you’re into — classic rock, soft rock or alternative rock, the Badger state has all three. But they’re not on your iPod — they lie just beneath your feet. Join us for a very different kind of rock concert at the March edition of UWM’s Science Bag show “Wisconsin Rocks!” Robert Graziano unearths strange and wonderful things about the various categories of rocks and even backs up his presentation with some music.

Geologists have different names for them, but each of these kinds of rocks has each have a distinctive “life cycle,” from formation to final use. Though most rocks take millions of years to form, audience members will help “create” some replica Wisconsin rocks in no time, including the official state rock, red granite. Then it’s on to a cheesehead volcano demonstration, using foam from the Milwaukee company Foamation to explain igneous rocks.

Like to shake, rattle and roll? Then enjoy, as Graziano uses shaker tubes to create sedimentary rocks and a hydraulic rock crusher to deform rocks into the metamorphic kind. Epic!

Matters of the Heart: Cells and Cardiovascular Disease

Biologist Julie Oliver explains the inner workings of our heart and circulatory system in “Matters of the Heart: Cell and Cardiovascular Disease.” With audience participation, Oliver will unravel how blood cells called platelets function at the site of an injury to form a plug. There’s good and bad news about our body’s ability to stop bleeding. While this rapid response is critical to wound healing, its regulation can be disrupted, causing a cascade of events that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. As she leads a tour into our veins, discover the what’s inside that activates the platelets – and what inhibits them. She also investigates how drugs like aspirin inhibit platelet’s clotting function. A demonstration reveals why platelets in mammals (that’s us!) respond particularly well to a daily, low-dose aspirin treatment for cardiovascular disease.

Scientists Who Turned the World Upside Down

In “Scientists Who Turned the World Upside Down,” mathematician Bart Adrian takes audience members on a trip through the history of game-changing discoveries by Galileo, Newton, Einstein, Richardson and Lorenz – but not always the breakthroughs you’ve heard about. Feel first-hand what radical idea Galileo discovered without a telescope. Take a spin, courtesy of Sir Isaac Newton and see what angular momentum is all about. Find out who Edward Lorenz and Lewis Richardson were, and then explore the scientific concept of stability in a demonstration with a tennis ball and a large salad bowl. Finally, Adrian leads an investigation of the “missing mass” that Albert Einstein referred to in his famous description of the relationship between energy and mass, E = mc2.

Hidden Colors Revealed

With color, what you see isn’t always what you get. Discover the reasons in “Hidden Colors Revealed” when UWM chemist Alan Schwabacher shows various ways that color can be present, but not visible — or uncovered. He’ll make a white cloth made of fiberglass invisible before your very eyes by submerging the cloth in a liquid of the same index of refraction. He’ll demonstrate how substances can change from one color to another by removal of “obscuring” colors. On the flip side, Schwabacher will show some ways that colors caused by chemical reactions can form, and how other colors can hide by being mixed with still other colors. Finally, although colors like ultraviolet and infrared are invisible, we’ll learn how they impact the visible world: ultraviolet and sunburn; infrared and the effectiveness of insulation.

Science, Society and Sustainability: Can We Make the Pieces Fit?

Knowing how parts of nature interact in time and space is critical to our understanding of sustainability. Ecologist Tim Ehlinger looks at our interaction with the land from our first arrival on the continent: trapping, logging, farming, industrialization, urbanization, and suburbia. Through demonstrations he traces human behavior and how it has, and continues, to modify our environment. He builds a “beaver dam” and has “rain” fall on a farmyard and an urban development to show the enormous difference in rainwater retention. Meeting our needs without jeopardizing those of future generations is the theme throughout this look at sustainability.

A Survey of Spacetime

Jolien Creighton — Geometry was invented to measure the Earth—to survey plots of land and to find distances between towns. We now use the same surveying methods to measure the distances to stars and the shape of the universe. But geometry is now understood to be the essence of space and time and the origin of gravity. Ripples in the geometry of spacetime produced by colliding black holes or by the big bang are now being sought with new types of observatories that are giving us our most precise survey of spacetime.

Mussel Beach: The Crushing Weight of Invasive Species

Carmen Aguilar and Russell Cuhel — Quagga mussels seem like invaders from another planet. Are they going to crush the historic wrecked ships on the bottom of Lake Michigan with all their bodies and shells? How did they wipe out the zebra mussels in such a short time? Are they stronger? Learn about the most ravaging invader Lake Michigan has ever seen!

The Evolution of Life: From Microbes to Dinosaurs

Have you ever wondered how geologists reconstruct the Earth’s history? Join geologist Steve Dornbos as he takes you on a journey through geologic time showing us how fossils are formed, preserved and become more complex as faunal succession occurs. Learn about superposition, index fossils and more. And then play “The Wheel of Fossils” game to learn how evolutionary changes took place over the past three billion years.

Today’s Gadgets and Tomorrow’s Energy: John Bardeen’s Nobel Prizes

Daniel Agterberg — Through interactive demonstrations and examples, we unravel the ideas that lead to John Bardeen’s remarkable discoveries for which he won two Nobel Prizes: the transistor and the explanation of superconductivity. The first created the modern day electronics of your cell phone, computer and more; the second is poised to change the energy industry.

Glowing Eyes and Personal Halos: Seeing the Light

Robert Greenler — The “red-eye effect,” halos from antiquity to modern times, the courting ritual of the woodcock, aerial views of Stonehenge — “a whole bunch of things, many of which can be explained by a similar effect” — work together in this inventive and informative video to present a way of seeing more thoroughly.

Space, Time, Einstein, and Spacetime

Beginning with the flat earth of Ancient Egypt, where tax collectors developed the principles of geometry, John L. Friedman moves through the centuries to show us how science has effected our understanding of concepts such as up or down, of two events happening in the same place at the same time, of space as being flat, and also our sense of what is in the past and what is in the future. Suitable for use at both the high-school and college levels, “Space, Time, Einstein, and Spacetime” provides a fascinating twist on how science has changed how we understand the physical universe.

Up Close and Personal: A View Through the World’s Best Microscopes

Through the looking glass and on into inner space, this video is an adventure in wonderland for all who follow physicist Jun Nogami into the world of microscopes past, present, and future. The journey begins with the familiar magnifying glass, travels back to mid-1600 and the single-lens microscope, the first means of observing bacteria. The program then proceeds step-by-step to the edge of tomorrow, to the Quantum Corral, and the quest to fabricate and control on an atomic level.

Beetles, Bubbles, and Butterflies: The Origins of Iridescence

Robert Greenler — Change the angle and a drab butterfly displays a wash of brilliant blue; the vibrant green of a beetle turns a rich blue; and the intense red of the ruby-throated humming disappears. Almost like magic, in this video as in the world at large, “nature’s jewels” shimmer about us in feathers, in butterfly wings, in spider webs, and in shells whose colors record a like history of the animal who built them.

Medical Imaging: Getting Under Your Skin

Sound, motion, and a bit of fury pulse through this dynamic investigation into several imaging techniques used to examine the human body. Physicist Paul Lyman immediately captures the attention of his audience with his entrance, bumping down the long flight of lecture-room stairs to the front of the room on his bicycle. He hops off, removes his helmet and plunges into the world of X rays, computer tomography (CT scan), nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound.

Early Optics and the Painters’ Art

Science and art, fascination and controversy, all meet in this exploration by physicist Robert Greenler of optical devices and techniques possibly used in the painting of many of the masterpieces of Western Art. Did artists, beginning in the early 1400s, use lenses and mirrors in the creation of their pictures, as painter David Hockney and Charles Falco assert? Also intrigued by this question, Professor Greenler brings his expertise in optics to an examination of the optical tools available over time to the artist.

The Pointillist Painter, the Sunday Comics, and Color TV: Color Mixing in Art and Technology

The science of color — some of its rules, its mysteries and surprises, its collusion with the human eye — comes under scrutiny in “The Pointillist Painter, the Sunday Comics, and Color TV: Color Mixing in Art Technology.” In this wide-ranging and engaging program physicist Robert Greenler looks at “a dozen ways of mixing color,” using both the basics we learn in kindergarten for the mixing of pigments and those which govern the mixing of light.

NASA Shuttle Launch: Dark-Moon-Ray Mystery

Sky effects and the solution of a mystery intertwine in this fascinating look at a photograph of the successful launch of space shuttle Atlantis on February 7, 2001. “What’s going on here?” the Boston Globe science writer asked physicist Robert Greenler soon after the picture appeared. His search for that answer forms the basis of this informative program.

Rainbows, Visible and Invisible

The excitement of discovery, whether of something already known and experienced many times or of finding something for the first time ever in all of history, run throughout “Rainbows, Visible and Invisible.” Physicist Robert Greenler works with both pure science and pure wonder to capture the fascination of the rainbow.

Why Does a Spinning Top Stop?

“I suspect a top is one of those things that wants to be invented,” Physicist Robert Greenler suggests as he spins fruits and vegetables — nuts, a strawberry with a twig stuck through it, a lemon, an apple on a stick, a coconut, an acorn squash, a pumpkin — in this engaging program. It is both an explanation of Newtonian laws of motion and a celebration of human curiosity and resourcefulness.

The Clarinet, The Washtub, The Musical Nails: How Musical Instruments Work

This is no ordinary music lesson. The familiar out of the unfamiliar… “weird and wonderful things”… a magician pulling sounds out of the air.. .a heightened sense of physical principles and possibilities — all of these, and more are at play in “The Clarinet, The Washtub, And The Musical Nails: How Musical Instruments Work.” Physicist Robert Greenler uses an eclectic set of materials and an abundance of spontaneous humor to explore the basic elements in the creation of music.

No Exit! Black Holes, Neutron Stars, and Gravitational Collapse

The sun, moon, and stars are brought to earth in vivid action in this look at the physics of our universe. Professor John Friedman, a world-recognized expert in relativistic astrophysics and quantum gravity, takes the highly complex — the speed of light; the role of electrons, protons, and neutrons in the life cycle of a star; and the workings if a black hole — and makes it both accessible and interesting.

Urban Air: What’s in There?

The “mystery” of urban air is stripped away in this lively video. With clarity and delight, chemistry professor Thomas Holme looks at each of the components of air — nitrogen, oxygen, water, argon, and “other” — and demonstrates how, and under what conditions, they combine with volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) to form pollution.