10-03-2020 Terry Wallace — Gold: A Journey from the Big Bang to the Amazon (Zoom)

Gold—A Journey from the Big Bang to the Amazon

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Gold is one of the most fascinating of the 5,400 mineral species on Earth and no mineral (or metal) evokes more emotion, but gold also has an incredible scientific story: a gold nugget is made of material that was not born in our planet or even our solar system.

In this talk, world-renowned geophysicist Dr Terry Wallace discusses how the metal was created, how it came to be found on Earth, and the spell it has cast over humankind.  The lecture was broadcast via Zoom on Oct. 3, 2020; the recording is available above.

Terry C. Wallace Jr. was raised in Los Alamos, New Mexico and graduated from Los Alamos High School in 1974. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in geophysics and mathematics from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, followed by a Master of Science and PhD in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology.

From 1983 to 2003, he was a professor at the University of Arizona, but moved back to Los Alamos in 2006 to become their Principal Associate Director for Science, Technology, and Engineering.  From 2011 to 2017, Wallace was the Laboratory’s Principal Associate Director for Global Security. He served as the 11th Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory until his retirement in 2018.



12-7-2019 Peter Ward — The Coming Great Simplification?

We are living in a time of unprecedented and rapid technological, economic, social, and environmental change.  I will argue that, in spite of what seems to be ever greater technological complexity, the largest scale natural “operations” of Earth are actually undergoing an unnoticed simplification, one that is already affecting geological landscapes, biodiversity, global economy, and human population.  I will make predictions about specific “simplifications” that will accrue from sea-level rise, climate instability, diminishing petroleum output, increasing population, and dwindling global food supply.  Whether these simplifications happen fast enough to allay an actual mass extinction (of our species) rather than “just” the current and expanding “mass depletion” over the next century, remains to be observed.

Dr. Peter Ward is a paleontologist and astrobiologist at the University of Washington and a world-renowned authority on mass extinctions, climate change, evolution, and astrobiology.  His research examines the history of life on Earth over billions of years, focusing in particular on mass extinction events.  That work gives him unique ‘deep time’ perspectives on the future of life on this planet, as well as the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.  Dr. Ward has appeared on NOVA and Ted Talks and written over a dozen popular science books including “Rivers in Time: the Search for Clues to Earth’s Mass Extinctions” and “The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps”.