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Lyceum Society June 2021 Meeting




for Members

Lyceum Society June 2021 Meeting

Monday, June 7, 2021, 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM EDT


Presented By


Welcome and Introductions: 11:30 am to 11:45 am

Preliminary Presentation: 11:45 am to 12:30 pm

Speaker: Dr. Ralph Kaslick

Topic: The Limits of Conscious Awareness: Report of a man who couldn't see numbers.

Outline: A recent case report indicates that some complex neurophysiological activity detected in the brain by electroencephalography (EEG) can occur in the absence of conscious awareness by the individual. An engineering geologist developed a disease that kills off certain non-visual parietal cells (corticobasal syndrome) which in his case prevented his unconscious brain signals from reaching his conscious awareness as visual Arabic numbers. However, he could still see letters and words, and his higher level math abilities remained intact, although he could not consciously see any numbers. This deficit seems to show that complex cognitive processing and conscious awareness are distinct entities. You can, at least in this case, have one without the other.

CV: Ralph S. Kaslick received his A.B. and D.D.S. degrees from Columbia University. He served as Professor of Periodontics and Oral Medicine; Dean of the College of Dental Medicine and Campus Provost at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He was later Chief of Dentistry and Medical Consultative Services and President of the Medical Staff at Goldwater Memorial Hospital, while holding the position of Professor of Periodontics and Hospital Dentistry at NYU's College of Dentistry. For the past 15 years, he has been Chairman of the Visiting Professor Program, a leadership development project intended to raise institutional awareness of contemporary issues in dentistry at Columbia University's College Of Dental Medicine.

Dr. Kaslick has presented four lectures to the Lyceum Society on the placebo response, covering such issues as the influence of biological mechanisms and genetics, the role of the non-conscious mind and the effect of open-labelling. In other talks, he has examined the biological basis of our subjective perception of complete free will, and he has addressed new evidence that changes in epigenetic markers can be retained during the inheritance of acquired characteristics, and that the epigenetic environment can cause cancer metastasis. He has also presented views of biological entities using scanning electron microscopy, electron microscopy tomography and 3D atomic force microscopy and shown original photographs of NYC subway construction (1912-1918).

Main Presentation: 12:30 to 2:00 pm

Speaker: Alex Wellerstein, Assistant Professor and Director, Science and Technology Studies program, Stevens Institute of Technology

Topic: “Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States”

Outline: The American atomic bomb was born in secrecy. From the moment scientists first conceived of its possibility to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and beyond, there were efforts to control the spread of nuclear information and the newly discovered scientific facts that made such powerful weapons possible. The totalizing scientific secrecy that the atomic bomb appeared to demand was new, unusual, and very nearly unprecedented. It was foreign to American science and American democracy—and potentially incompatible with both. From the beginning, this secrecy was controversial, and it was always contested. This talk will present the key arguments and findings of the new book Restricted Data. Drawing on troves of declassified files, including records released by the government for the first time through the author’s efforts, the book traces the complex evolution of the US nuclear secrecy regime from the first whisper of the atomic bomb through the mounting tensions of the Cold War and into the early twenty-first century.


Assistant Professor, Program in Science and Technology Studies, College of Arts and Letters. David and GG Farber Fellow in Science and Technology Studies (2017-2020). Director, Program in Science and Technology Studies (2020–). Associate Professor with tenure as of September 2021.


Associate Historian, Center for History of Physics / Niels Bohr Library & Archives.


Lecturer, Department of History.


Lecturer, Department of the History of Science.


Research Fellow, Project on Managing the Atom/International Security Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.


2004-2010 HARVARD UNIVERSITY Ph.D., History of Science.

1999-2002 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY B.A., High Honors, History (emphasis in History of Science)


Nonmember Student, Undergrad, Grad, Fellow
Member Student, Post-Doc, Fellow