Rundown of area events focusing on science

Here’s a fresh line-up of local events relating to science in one way or another:

Einstein’s gripe about spooky actions

Einstein’s complaint about the quantum theory was not that it required God to play dice, but that it failed to “represent a reality in time and space, free from spooky actions at a distance.” 

The “reality” Einstein insisted upon is nevertheless impossible, says Cornell University professor N. David Mermin. He will explain why at the 5th Annual Misel Family Lecture — aptly titled, “Spooky Actions at a Distance.”  

This annual lecture series, hosted by the Fine Theoretical Physics Institute at the University of Minnesota, is free and open to the public. It assumes no background in physics, simply an enthusiasm or curiosity for science. 

Mermin is known for his ability to convey complex scientific concepts to non-scientists. Two of his many books were written for the general reader on the special theory of relativity: “Space and Time in Special Relativity” and “It’s About Time.”

He also is well known for his work on the foundations of quantum mechanics and for more scholarly writings including “Solid State Physics,” which he co-authored with Neil Ashcroft. It has been the standard introductory textbook in the field since 1976. Many of his essays written for Physics Today along with several other non-technical articles were compiled into a book, “Boojums All the Way Through”.

The lecture is scheduled for 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21, at Memorial Hall, McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak Street SE, Minneapolis. For more information, go here.

Lecture by oil-spill-fund administrator

Thanks to the BP oil spill, Kenneth Feinberg has been prominent in the news lately.

He is current administrator of BP’s $20 billion oil-spill fund. As such, he is responsible for determining how much money BP will pay to people whose fishing, marina, restaurant and other businesses have been impacted by the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

And he is coming to Minnesota next week to speak at the Dorsey & Whitney Foundation Lecture.

Feinberg is recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. He has served as the special master of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, the special master for TARP Executive Compensation, and the arbitrator for thousands of disputes.

His presentation, “Government Regulation of Private Compensation,” is free and open to the public. It is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 22, in the Auditorium at William Mitchell College of Law, 875 Summit Ave., St. Paul.

Raptor release redux

Last spring, I took in the Raptor Center’s release of rehabilitated birds. It was a blustery day with wind so strong I wondered how any bird could dare take flight for the first time after recovery from injuries and/or illness.

The raptors soared into the sky with no trouble though. And the crowds celebrated the sight with gusto. It was exhilarating and moving to see something so naturally wild regain freedom whole and strong again.

People also got great photo-ops with eagles, falcons, owls and other raptors that weren’t released that day. And experts were on hand to answer questions about each of the birds.

Now, another release is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (The actual releases are set for 11:30 and 2 p.m.). It’s at the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center, 12805 St. Croix Trail, Hastings.

The event is free and very family friendly. But please leave your pets at home.

Don’t ask me what kinds of raptors will be set free. The folks at the Raptor Center routinely deflect that question, saying the specific birds aren’t chosen until very close to the release date.

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