I went to the SETI Institute this week to see one of their free weekly lectures. I knew about SETI and that they were in Mountain View, but I had never been to their facility. They just moved into a new location on Bernardo and they’re still getting settled. Every Wednesday they offer a free colloquium and they’re open to the public. This series has been happening for a few years and the subject matter is wide and varied. Here’s a Youtube link to past lectures by scientists at SETI Institute. And here’s a link to upcoming lectures. They are every Wednesday from noon to 1:00 pm.
I spoke with several of the people sitting next to me at the lecture and one of them told me that the audience has an “extraordinarily high concentration of really smart people.” Yes, I would have to agree with that statement. Apparently some of the lectures are rather technical and others are more easily accessible. Dr. Adrian Brown, a planetary science researcher at the NASA Ames Research Center and SETI Institute, told me that his goal is to find speakers who are able to present something that is a notch above what we might see on the Discovery channel. And don’t think of this lunch-time-lecture as someone standing up in front of the room lecturing. The audience was very involved in the discussion. They had all kinds of questions and comments. One even corrected the presenter when she was unsure of something. It was really interesting and I’d love to go back and see more topics being discussed.
The discussion on Wednesday was about the Martian dichotomy. The speaker, Margarita Marinova showed simulations of what may have happened when Mars was blasted by something very large and dense over 50 million years ago. As one person in the audience said while we watched the simulation video, “It was a bad day for Mars.”
And, since the lectures take place during lunch, there is a do-it-yourself peanutbutter and jelly sandwich making area. Everyone walks in the door and goes straight over to the lunch area and builds a pb&j and then finds a seat for the lecture.
The lectures are open to the public. There are all different kinds of people that attend, including NASA Ames researchers, professors from local universities, people from Lockheed, astronomers, students, and the average space-geek. I love that SETI Institute is known world wide and that they’re right here in Mountain View and that they’re willing to open their doors to the community so we get a chance to see what’s going on inside... I love Mountain View.