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Webinar: Lyceum Society October 2022 Meeting




for Members

Webinar: Lyceum Society October 2022 Meeting

Monday, October 3, 2022


Presented By


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

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

Speaker: David J. Haas

Topic: James Smithson: His Life and Founding of the Smithsonian Institution

James Smithson, benefactor for the Smithsonian Institution, grew up with wild fascination and hope for his future in science, but he failed to achieve this goal. Nevertheless, some unexplained inspiration made him write a new will in 1826 in London whereby he left his entire fortune to "the United States of America to found the Smithsonian Institution." Joseph Henry (the most famous scientist in America during the early 1800s) was appointed the first Secretary in 1846 and proved inspirational. Two hundred years after he wrote this will, James Smithson's wish has been realized with the Smithsonian Institution being the largest and most prestigious museum/research institution in the world. Thank you, James Smithson.

Born in 1765, James Smithson attended Oxford University, graduated in 1786 with a science degree in chemistry and mineralogy and began an unplanned and chaotic life in science. He became the youngest member ever elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in April 1787 (age 22), was thought to be a potential genius, and almost completely failed. Besides publishing 26 scientific papers, two other accomplishments were directly participating in the founding of “The Royal Institution of Great Britain" and having the "inspiration for a scientific institution in a brand new country – America." James considered himself a "citizen of the world."

David Haas received his BA in Physics and PhD in Biophysics in protein crystallography and molecular biology at the State University of NY at Buffalo. For the next five years he performed basic research in protein crystallography at several institutions in Europe, Israel and the United States. In 1970, he joined Philips Electronic Instruments in Mt. Vernon, NY as Principal Scientist for X-ray systems, working on analytical instruments and designing some of the first airport security X-ray systems that were used worldwide during the 1970s. Conceiving the idea of a self-expiring security ID (Visitor badge), David and his wife, Sandra, formed Temtec, Inc. which developed and manufactured high-tech visitor and temporary IDs for more than 20 years under the brand name TEMPbadge. Temtec, Inc. was sold to Brady Worldwide Corporation in 2002. David & Sandra Haas have more than 100 patents to their credit as well as many technical and scientific publications. The topic of David’s previous presentation was Nobel Prizes Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Crystallography.

Main Presentation: 12:30 pm to 2:15pm

Speaker: Stuart Kurtz

Topic: Entropy and the Direction of Time

If there is anything we know for sure, it is that time goes unceasingly forward. Physics, the science that should account for this, has no explanation for that feeling, nor for the truth of it. Some physicists and philosophers suggest that time itself may be an illusion. They turn to a concept called entropy. As one version of the second law of thermodynamics says, "The entropy of the universe stays constant or increases with time," suggesting this as the source of time’s directionality. What I will present in this discussion are what the laws of physics indicate about the nature of time and why entropy fails to explain why time goes forward. I will then speculate on the reasons we perceive time as we do.

Stuart Kurtz graduated from MIT with an SB in Chemical Engineering and from Princeton with an MS degree in Polymer Engineering and an MA and PhD in Chemical Engineering. He taught at RPI and in Brazil as Professor Titular in Materials Engineering. This was followed by a research career in industry accumulating around 30 patents and publishing at least a few good papers. He now focuses on Philosophy of Science and Physics and climbing mountains because they are there. He has spoken to the Lyceum Society many times; most recently in January, 2018 he spoke on the topic: Lessons from Science: Lysenko, Velikovsky and the Demarcation Problem; In February, 2018 he spoke on Geoengineering for Climate Change Mitigation. In April, 2019 he spoke on Does Time Flow? In February, 2020 he spoke on Cold Fusion; in February and March, 2021 he gave a 2-part presentation on the scientific accomplishments and biography of Fritz Haber. In February 2022 he spoke on the Murmuration of Starlings: Emergence and Patterns. And in June 2022 he spoke on The 1980 Titan II Missile Accident.


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