J. James Woods - Lectures in the Sciences & Mathematics

Woods Lecture Series 2014-2015

Patricia C. Wright

Saving Lemurs from Extinction: The Challenges

Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 - 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room

WrightThe 2014 Indianapolis Prize Winner, Patricia Chapple Wright, presents the challenges, cooperation, and triumphs in her efforts to save some of the most critically endangered species on Earth. Wright gives new meaning to the phrase, "It takes a village." You will see how a team effort between the Malagasy government, villagers, and Wright is making life better not only for the people, but also the lemurs. Wright and the lemurs were featured in a 3-D IMAX documentary released nationwide in April 2014, titled "Island of Lemurs: Madagascar." The film, narrated by Morgan Freeman, aimed to inspire a mainstream audience to advance the conservation efforts for lemurs,primates that have been around since the time of the dinosaurs.




John Dupre

From the Mendelian Gene to the Dynamic Genome

Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 - 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room

DupreDupré will briefly sketch the history of the gene concept from the heyday of Mendelian genetics in the early 20th century through the landmark discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick in 1953 and the Human Genome Project to the contemporary concept of the genome. He will explain how current understanding of genomes has displaced or marginalized traditional and still widely held interpretations of genes as the causes of particular features of organisms.  Dupré will also discuss how increasingly dynamic understandings of the genome are undermining and supplanting popular ideas of the genome as a blueprint or a program.




William Dunham

Your humble Servant, Is. Newton

Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 - 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room

DunhamAlmost 50 years ago, Cambridge University Press published  the correspondence of Isaac Newton, a seven-volume, 3000-page collection of  letters that provide insight into this great, if difficult, genius.  In this talk, Dunham shares his favorite  examples of Newton as correspondent. From his earliest known letter in 1661 (where he scolded a friend for being drunk); through exchanges with Leibniz, Locke, and others; to documents from his days at the Mint in London, these writings give glimpses of Newton at his best … and his worst. 




George Reisch

Paradigms and the Cold War "Struggle for Men's Minds"

Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015- 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room

ReischThis lecture will explore Thomas Kuhn's famous theory of scientific paradigms and how it was inspired and shaped by the anticommunism of cold war America. Sketching his new theory of scientific revolutions at Harvard in the 1950s, Kuhn thought about science in an age of dramatic political conversions, McCarthyism, brainwashing, and the specter of totalitarian mind control.

These anxieties shaped his new theory of science as well as his life and career. They also helped prepare the United States for a revolution of its own, as the 1950s gave way to the psychedelic 60s-and Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions became the most important and widely read book about science in America.



Skylar Tibbits

A 4D Future

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015 - 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room

Tibbits3D printing has grown in sophistication since the late 1970s. TED Fellow Skylar Tibbits is shaping the next development, which he calls 4D printing: where the fourth dimension is time. This emerging technology will allow us to print objects that then reshape themselves or self-assemble over time. Think: a printed cube that folds before your eyes, or a printed pipe able to sense the need to expand or contract.

In this keynote, Tibbits explains how we are now able to program nearly everything-from bits of DNA, proteins, cells, and proto-cells; to products, architecture, and infrastructure. Programmability and computing are becoming ubiquitous across scales and disciplines. Tibbits shows us how soon these small-scale technologies will translate into solutions for large-scale applications-and what it means for your industry.


Jessica Green

Cities Unseen: How Microbes Can Make Better Public Spaces, Buildings, and Human Beings Healthier

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room

GreenHow can a deeper understanding of microbes help us create sustainable cities, healthier buildings (including our hospitals and homes), and more robust green spaces? Green explains how in this visually stunning talk, while ultimately touching on even deeper questions about humanity: What does it mean to be an individual? Where does your identity begin, and where does it end?

Every person has a unique and unseen universe of microorganisms living in, on, and around them. These trillions of tiny creatures define who we are. Yet we are only just beginning to understand how our microbes interact with the people around us, our buildings, and the natural environment. How do microbes make us healthier, more resilient, and more vibrant? How do microbes influence our moods, our public spaces, our relationships with everything we touch? Green, a scientist and TED Fellow, explores the microbial cities living in our gut, on our skin, and in our homes.