Nerd Nite #69: Stars, Worldly Realities, & Disasters

NerdNiteHNLAug2019

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Alternative realities in our Brave New World

Dr. Charles Birkeland – Coral Reef Biologist, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

In 1932, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World told the story of a future society in which the people are conditioned to dislike nature and books. Their main purpose in life will be to purchase and consume continuously to keep the GDP growing.  Fossil fuels, technology, and electronic media have led us to give abstract realities (e.g., GDP, debt, etc.) priority over material realities (resource stock size, atmospheric chemistry, etc.) for continuous growth, giving sustainability little thought. Faust himself had to pay the Devil for his rich life, but while we are enjoying the rich life given to us by fossil fuels, technology, and electronic media, the repayment will be taken from our grandchildren. How can we turn this around?

Charles Birkeland has been studying coral reefs for 49 years – so far. After receiving his degree from the University of Washington in 1970, he had a post-doc with the Smithsonian in Panama for 5 years, was at the University of Guam Marine Lab for 25 years, and has been associated with the Zoology/Biology Department at UH for 19 years.

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Disasters: It’s not if, but when!

John Cummings III – Public Information Officer, Honolulu Department of Emergency Management

An emergency can strike our community, homes, and families unexpectedly and without warning. Do you know what to do? Does your family know how to contact you? Do you have a plan to connect and meet up with your loved ones? Do you have 14 days’ worth of disaster supplies, food, and water for you and all members and pets in your household?

Additionally, due to our isolation, large population, and limited resources, it could be a number of days to weeks before help arrives to your community. Government may not be able to effectively respond to a large scale disaster without your help. Community preparedness begins at home and begins today, not when a disaster is looming.

John will talk about disaster preparedness and why everyone in Hawai’i needs to be concerned and begin planning immediately if they have not done so already.

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Star Hopping the Hawaiian Night Sky

Tony Smith – Lead Planetarium Educator, Bishop Museum

Learn some basic astronomy and how to identify celestial objects visible in the skies over Hawaii. We’ll learn about Hawaiian stars and constellations alongside the Western system and how Harry Potter fits into the picture too!

Tony Smith has been a Science Educator since high school when he volunteered with Outdoor School in the forests near his native Portland, Oregon teaching 6th graders about natural science. After graduating from Oregon State University with a degree in General Science and intentions to be a middle school science teacher, Tony instead ran back to the woods and worked as staff at Outdoor School. Tony has also worked at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland and Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA. He  is currently the Lead Planetarium Educator at the Bishop Museum. When he’s not staring at the night sky, Tony is also a Co-Boss of Nerd Nite Honolulu.

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