Saturday, October 28, 2006
Events Free — Meals Provided
12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Lunch with a Scientist
2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Rituals in Ancient Egypt
7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Betsy Bryan, Ph.D., Alexander Badawy Professor of Egyptian
Art and Archaeology and chair of the
Near Eastern Studies
Department, Johns Hopkins University.
The Egyptian New Kingdom, from 1567 B.C.E. to 1085 B.C.E.,
has not been known as the cultural ancestor of Janis Joplin
or the Grateful Dead. New evidence being unearthed from a
temple in Luxor, however, is leading to surprising findings
about Egyptians' concept of the divine and how they
celebrated it. Archaeologists have unearthed paintings rich
in sexual symbolism. Depictions of women fixing their hair
and making beds are intended to represent sexual advances.
Several scenes feature lettuce, thought to be an
aphrodisiac. Figs that appear in the paintings were shared
between lovers. And many of the rituals were accompanied by
music. All of which leaves archaeologists with an
inescapable conclusion: In ancient Egypt, it was all about
sex, drugs, and rock & roll.
Gregory Ball, Professor,
Department of Psychological &
Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins University.
For a century, biologists have divided hormones and
neurotransmitters into separate categories. Both are used
for communication, but in different ways. Steroid hormones
are released by the endocrine glands to act at distant
targets, and they usually act relatively slowly.
Neurotransmitters, on the other hand, act quickly over
short distances in the brain. Increasingly, however, new
data is confounding that traditional view, as new data so
often does. The brain has been found to produce hormones
that act at distant sites. And nitric oxide and carbon
monoxide have been found to sometimes act as
neurotransmitters. New findings suggest that estrogen, in
addition to its hormonal functions, may also function as a
rapid-acting neurotransmitter. If that's true, it could
broaden researchers' understanding of the brain — and
maybe even illuminate the accusations against Barry Bonds
and Floyd Landis.
Rusty Scupper Inner Harbor.
Buses will leave the hotel beginning at 5:30 p.m.;
The last bus leaves at 6:45 p.m.
We will also take this opportunity for a special toast to
John Wilkes, at 6 p.m. at the Rusty Scupper. John recently
retired as director of science communications at the
University of California, Santa Cruz.
Sunday, October 29,
8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Andrew Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H., King Fahd Professor of
Departments of Molecular Biology and Genetics,
and Professor, Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins
University School of Medicine.
If DNA is the alphabet that spells out the messages that
direct our construction, epigenomics is the grammar that
allows those messages to be understood. It comprises
another code, another collection of information, that is
associated with DNA but independent of the DNA sequence
itself. Researchers know far less about the information in
this code than they do about the information in DNA 's
double helix. And unlike your genes, which you're stuck
with, the epigenomic code changes over your lifetime. It's
important in the production of stem cells, the genesis of
tumors, and even allows your environment to influence your
cells' programs. New findings, many of which have not yet
been published, will be presented on tumor formation and
on how the epigenomic code might be manipulated to prevent
other illnesses and preserve health.
Ted Brader, Associate Professor of
College of Literature, Science and the Arts, University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
As an elite, educated group, we all cast our votes based
on thoughtful consideration of the issues, of course. But
maybe there's a little bit more to it than that. In some
of the first studies to look at the role of emotions in
voters' decisions, researchers are doing psychological
experiments to examine not only how voters respond to
emotional ads, but exactly how politicians exploit voters'
emotions to sway their choices. They are also looking at
contentious issues outside elections, such as the
immigration debate. Which elements of that issue are most
likely to trigger anxiety, and why? We'll learn about a
new, unpublished analysis of the use of emotion in ads
from the 2000 campaign, research sorting out the role of
fear, anger and enthusiasm in elections, and get a glimpse
of forthcoming studies on the role of sympathy and anger
in the response to Hurricane Katrina and the role of shame
and humor in political debate, focusing on the speeches of
Martin Luther King and the Daily Show.
Lunch on your own.
1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Particle Physics and Cosmology (I).
7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Raman Sundrum, Ph.D., Professor,
Department of Physics and
Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University.
Late next year, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN , the
European Center for Nuclear Research, will be turned on,
offering a new window into the smallest physics
(particles) and the largest (cosmology). Testing is being
completed now, and substantial quantities of data are
expected by 2008. What will the LHC tell us? Using what is
essentially the world's largest microscope, physicists
will address some of the leading theoretical questions in
their field: What is the origin of mass? What are quarks
made of? And can we finally get a glimpse of the elusive
Higgs boson? How many dimensions does the universe have?
Why is gravity so weak? (It takes an entire planet to keep
a small child on the ground.) A leading theorist will tell
us what to watch for, and explain how the findings might
— or might not — upset physicists' notions of
how the world works.
Particle Physics and Cosmology (II)
Edward W. "Rocky" Kolb, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman,
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of
Chicago, Chicago, IL.
Dark energy is the dominant component of the universe, but
physicists still don't have a good explanation for why
it's there or how extensive it really is. Understanding
what's going on will probably demand a revolutionary
breakthrough in fundamental physics, making the questions
about dark energy among the most compelling puzzles in all
of physics. The answers could require alterations to
Einstein's theory of gravity. We'll get a look at an
ambitious experimental program aimed at answering
questions about dark energy, something that would have
seemed impossible only a short time ago.
Justin Wolfers, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of
Public Policy, The Wharton School, University of
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
Many of us encountered simple markets when we sold
lemonade in front of the house as kids. But simple markets
can be subtle and powerful tools, useful for aggregating
widely dispersed information into efficient forecasts of
future events. Using examples from financial markets,
sports, politics, science, and entertainment, we will
discover that market-generated forecasts are fairly
accurate enough to out-perform most other forecasts. They
reveal not only what the market expects but how much
uncertainty there is in the forecast. We'll hear the
latest findings and get a glimpse of future research
NASW/CASW Annual Reception and Banquet at the Baltimore
Presentation of NASW's Science-in-Society Awards, CASW's
Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science
Reporting, and the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for young
Buses will leave the hotel beginning at 5 p.m. , for those
who wish to go early and visit the aquarium exhibits
before the banquet. The last bus will leave at 6:30 p.m.
Monday, October 30,
Events Free — Meals Provided
8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the Johns Hopkins campus.
Buses leave for the campus from 7:30 to 7:45 a.m.
Rolf Halden, Assistant Professor,
Department of Environmental Health Sciences,
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health.
Certain hand soaps carry the antimicrobial agent
triclocarban, or TCC, even though the chemical has no
clear benefit to the average consumer. Sewage systems
carry triclocarban to wastewater treatment plants, which,
researchers have found, are very effective at removing
— but not destroying — the antimicrobial
agent, which is toxic when ingested and can cause
reproductive problems. The agent collects in the sludge
removed from wastewater treatment — which is often
recycled as a fertilizer and soil conditioner. Researchers
will also report where else they've found TCC , and what
the consequences might be.
Hope Jahren, Ph.D., Professor,
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences,
Johns Hopkins University.
Some of the most dramatic evidence of climate and other
environmental changes due to human activity are found near
the north and south poles, where decreases in ice mass and
increases in temperature have upset natural ecosystems. To
understand the present, however, it's important to
understand what happened in the polar regions in the past.
Researchers would like to know more about the teeming
plants and animals that flourished in conifer forests that
covered an ice-free Siberia, Greenland and Arctic Canada
during the Eocene, about 45 million years ago. How did
these plant communities live through three months of total
darkness? What was the status of the greenhouse effect in
the atmosphere at that time? The discovery of a fabulous
wealth of exquisitely preserved fossils on a remote
northern Canadian island is allowing researchers to answer
those questions. Using high-tech chemical forensics, they
are vastly expanding the classical paleontological work in
Lunch provided on campus.
Noon to 5:30 p.m.
Campus Visits and Field Trips
7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus
Note: For those not making campus visits, a bus will leave
for the hotel after lunch. Other buses will leave for the
hotel at approximately 5:30.
CASW/NASW Party at the historic Cross Street Market in
Baltimore's Federal Hill.
Music, festivities, and dining on shrimp, oysters, and
Tuesday, October 31,
8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Rebuilding Blood Vessel Walls
1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Harry C. Dietz, M.D., Victor A. McKusick Professor of
Medicine and Genetics, Johns Hopkins, and a Howard Hughes
Medical Institute investigator.
Marfan syndrome is a disorder of connective tissue that
leads to the excessive growth of long bones, and problems
with mitral valves, aortic aneurysm, emphysema,
dislocations of the lens of the eye and a predisposition
to sudden death from rupture of blood vessels. Fifteen
years ago, Dietz and his colleagues made a major
breakthrough when they identified the gene responsible for
the disorder, but the celebration was short-lived. The
gene, called fibrillin-1 is required for the growth of
elastic tissues in many parts of the body, and the
thinking was that if the gene was defective, little could
be done to correct the illness. It was too late to make
more elastic tissue, and so the risks of sudden death
couldn't be controlled. In April, 2006, however, Dietz
reported a surprising new finding in mice. An
off-the-shelf blood pressure medication could prevent
worsening of the syndrome and might even repair the damage
to the aorta, potentially reducing the risk of early
death. The aim now is to see whether the drug might work
the same way in humans — a risky, uncertain, and
possibly life-saving experiment.
Richard D. McCullough, Ph.D., Dean,
Mellon College of
Science, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh,
In the 1990s, researchers discovered a family of
electricity-conducting plastics with unusual — and
potentially highly useful — properties. Indeed,
these novel polymers are on the way to commercial
application as solar cells, but of a kind that could be
printed on large rolls, and sprayed or painted on
buildings — or used as window coatings. That's only
one of the applications. These printable plastics are also
useful in transistors, flexible computer displays, and as
chemical sensors. Researchers are currently exploring
their use in the detection of nerve gases and chemical and
biological warfare agents, along with other commercial and
workplace settings. We'll get an advance look at what's
been done so far, and where that research is headed.
Bonus Tour of Goddard Space Flight Center.
Goddard Space Flight Center is one of NASA's largest
science and R&D centers, home to more than 5,000
scientists and engineers working on climate change,
astrophysics, and solar system exploration. You will see
the newest instruments being readied for launch to the
Hubble Space Telescope, mission control for NASA's fleet
of Earth-observing satellites, robot walkers in
development for missions to the Moon and Mars, and a huge
one-of-a-kind 3D display of the Earth's changing
atmosphere and oceans as seen from space. You will also
meet with NASA's top scientists and talk about the state
of the world's ice sheets, explosive storms from the Sun,
the U.S. return to the Moon, the 2006 hurricane season,
and more — and still make it back to Baltimore for
dinner. Buses will pick you up at the hotel and bring you
back. Parking is available if you prefer to drive.