Posted on : 13-08-2014 | By : John | In : Book Club
This month we are reading Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution by Nick Lane.
Nick Lane is a Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry at University College London. He has written books about oxygen, mitochondria and cryobiology. Our current book is organized into 10 chapters, each covering an important advance (“inventions”) in the history of life. It is one of the most “sciency” books we’ve read recently, with occasional vivid descriptions of, for example, the view of the Earth from the Moon first seen by the Apollo 8 astronauts in 1968, the early Earth before the first life emerged and both kinds of hydrothermal vents (I didn’t know there was more than one.) There is little in the way of personal anecdotes or historical discussions. For the most part, the book dives right into the science, and there is a lot of it!
I’m finding it dense going but thoroughly worthwhile. A lot of it, especially the first chapter on the origins of life, is new to me. It also clears up a lot of common misconceptions, such as where the oxygen (O2) released by photosynthesis comes from. (It comes from splitting water molecules, not from reducing CO2. But it does convert atmospheric CO2 into solid carbohydrates, which is why plants are the ultimate solution to global warming.)
Posted on : 09-08-2014 | By : John | In : Blog Post, local
Since Tommy Doyle’s closed we’ve been meeting very sporadically (except the Book Club). We need a new regular meeting place. I’ve put up a post on Facebook* where people can make suggestions.
For people who don’t do Facebook, here’s a copy of the post. (You can email me suggestions or comments, or leave a comment here.)
Hey, everybody! Let’s crowd-source a new meeting place.
Since Tommy Doyle’s closed, we haven’t had a good meeting place. We had a couple of get-togethers at Meadhall in Kendall Sq, but it isn’t really set up for speakers, music or movies. Good beer, okay food, comfy chairs, but still lacking
I think what we need is a place with:
- room for about 60-80 people (with standing room for 20-30 more)
- near a T station
- accessible (I think this was a problem at Tommy Doyle’s)
- a stage or other easily visible area for speakers and musicians
- comfortable environment
- good but not fancy food
- decent bar
- inexpensive enough that we don’t frighten away students and people on a limited income.
- friendly and accepting staff
- management that is amenable to reserving us a space on the expectation that there would be good business on an otherwise quiet evening
- ability to record the talks (audio and video) if our guest wants us to (I think we can supply our own recording equipment and cameras if needed.)
Any other requirements I missed? Did I get the size right?
Does anyone know the perfect place or have any suggestions?
Should we form an exploratory committee to perform a skeptical investigation (i.e. a pub crawl?)
[*] I think that’s a link to the group rather than the specific post, but it should be easy to find since we don’t get a lot of posts…