Dragon Con: 2014 Science Talks

dragon conBy Amielle Moreno

A special time of year for all the geeks and nerds of Atlanta is the beloved Dragon Convention. Running from August 29th to September 1st, downtown Atlanta will be the most interesting place to people watch. Comfortably within the price range of the average graduate student, a free parade of costumes and celebrities starts at 10:00am on Saturday the 28th. It’s well worth the cost of a MARTA ticket so grab some good friends and make a morning of it!

For those of you interested in buying tickets for the day or weekend, there is an impressive number of science related talks. If you attend on Friday, don’t miss Emory Post-Doc Kristopher Hite‘s presentation titled Zombies and Vampires and Mummies, Oh My!. Hope to see you there and send the Sulcus your pictures!

dragon con people
The Neuroscience Program sipping mimosas while watching the parade in 2013.

Friday, 8-29-2014

10:00
Everything Stem Cells
You may have heard about stem cells, but are you hearing the whole truth? Why are they controversial? Bring your questions to this candid session!
Michael Gilkey

11:30
Superheroic Science
Some superheroes are frankly impossible, while others are plausible. What’s the difference, and does your favorite make the cut?
Emily Finke, Torrey Stenmark, Michael Gilkey

13:00
The Science Behind Pacific Rim
Giant robots fight giant monsters! But how close are we to building jagers? How realistic are kaiju? Can we really drift with someone?
Stephen Granade

14:30
Fun With Fusion
After 70 years of research, fusion energy is still unrealized. But progress is happening, as is some really cool science.
John Sheffield

16:00
The Weird Science of Hollywood
The big screen shows a lot of bad science due to budget constraints, lack of knowledge, or sometimes to improve the story.
Marriott A601 – A602
Kevin Grazier, Stephen Cass, Mika McKinnon, Trevor Valle

17:30
XPRIZE: Tackling the World’s Grand Challenges
Learn about the radical game-changing XPRIZE competitions (spaceships, Tricorders, ocean sensors and more) and the history of prizes for innovation.
Jyotika Virmani

19:00
A Practical Guide to the End of the World
Earthquakes, diseases, asteroid strikes, solar flares: the universe is trying to kill us! We’ll separate disaster fact from disaster fiction.
Mika McKinnon, Ben Davis, John Cmar, Tedd Roberts, Jyotika Virmani

20:30
Zombies and Vampires and Mummies, Oh My!
The undead fascinate us, but what does “undead” mean? Are all undead monsters created equal? Panel scientists will examine life, death, and undeath.
Raychelle Burks, Lali DeRosier, Kristopher Hite, Emily Finke

22:00
Nature is Kinkier Than You
Dolphins’ mating habits. Fruit bats and oral sex. Octopuses’ detachable genitals. How did animals become so kinky? 18+
Hilton Crystal Ballroom
Emily Finke, Diane Kelly, Lali DeRosier, Rachel Pendergrass, David Shiffman, Trevor Valle

23:30
The Scientific Principles of Home Brewing
What are the scientific principles behind designing and brewing beer? Learn them as you see beer brewed before your very eyes!
Walt Hubert

Saturday, 8-30-2014

10:00
The Past & Future of Nanotech
What is nanotechnology? What can we do with nanotech now, and where might it lead? See how big things come from small beginnings.
Joseph Meany

11:30
The History and Future of Nuclear Power
How do you go from radioactive ore in the ground to electricity? And how will it change in the future?
Richard Altstatt, Ben Davis, Chad Ramey, John Burns

13:00
Science, Science News & the Media
Clickbait headlines. Mis-represented studies. Good science reporting is hard, but why? How could it be better?
Sheraton Grand Ballroom West
Jonathan Strickland, Annalee Newitz, Pamela Gay, David Shiffman, Stephen Fleming, Veronica Belmont (moderator)

14:30
Science Doesn’t Have to Mean Lecture
Scientific communication has a stigma about being boring and incomprehensible, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Donna Governor, Liz Heinecke, Larry Morris, Lali DeRosier, Paul Zaloom, Fraser Cain (moderator)

16:00
The Secrets of the Deep
Most of our planet’s biosphere – that which can support life – is actually out to sea. It’s where we originally came from; what did we leave behind?
David Shiffman, Rachel Pendergrass, Trevor Valle, Lisa Hoopes

Beakman in Person!
The eccentric TV scientist will dazzle you with his demonstrations. Break the sound barrier and make toilet paper fly, all in the name of science!
Hyatt Regency VI – VII
Paul Zaloom

17:30
You’re a Mutant; Get Used to It
The advent of personalized genomics raises questions: what can it really do? Who can afford it? What do your mutations really tell you
Bill Gibson

19:00
Dragons, Mermaids and Kaiju
Why aren’t there real-life dragons? What kind of fantastical beasts are plausible given what we know of nature? Which are only flights of fancy?
Joseph Meany, Rachel Pendergrass, Eric Spana, Diane Kelly

20:30
The Future of Medicine
We’ve cloned a sheep. Now can we grow an arm? Learn about the future of medicine – 3D printing, tissue engineering, cell therapy and more!
John Cmar, Michael Gilkey, Bill Gibson

22:00
The (Non) Science of SyFy Movies
SyFy movies contains some…unique ideas about science. Our scientists discuss the real science, with special guest star SHARKNADO.
Sheraton Grand Ballroom West
David Shiffman, Rachel Pendergrass, Raychelle Burks, Lali DeRosier, Lisa Hoopes
(Note that this will run in a ballroom while other panels continue in the track room)

22:00
Build Your Own Particle Accelerator
No, seriously: come learn how to build your own particle accelerator.
Chad Ramey

Sunday, 8-31-2014

10:00
The Hands-On Science Power Hour!
Give us an hour and we’ll give you a science buffet! We’ve got twelve hands-on experiments for you to try. How many can you do in an hour?
Sheraton Atlanta Ballroom

It Takes Energy to Make Energy
Energy production has an energetic cost. Even a zombie apocalypse would be better than a return-on-energy-investment ratio that approaches one.
Jeff Hubbs

11:30
SARS, MERS, and Rabies: Sharing Viruses with Bats
Bats harbor more human-infecting viruses than any other type of animal. Let’s look at why bats are behind many of the new, emerging viral pandemics.
Jessica Parilla

13:00
Ask a Scientist!
You’ve got science questions? We’ve got science answers! Ask our panel of expert scientists anything you want to know about science.
Sheraton Atlanta Ballroom
Mika McKinnon, John Cmar, Pamela Gay, Raychelle Burks, David Shiffman, Stephen Granade (moderator)

14:30
Creating Great Science Nonfiction
What makes science nonfiction reach out and grab you while still being scientifically accurate?
Annalee Newitz, Liz Heinecke, Les Johnson, Fraser Cain (moderator)

16:00
From the Lab to the Marketplace
There’s a “Valley of Death” for scientific discoveries becoming useful products. See how the NSF Innovation Corps helps scientists cross that valley.
Stephen Fleming

Beakman in Person!
Watch the “Beakman’s World” scientist demonstrate science with the help of materializing bats and the occasional rubber chicken!
Marriott Imperial Ballroom
Paul Zaloom

17:30
Science is Stranger than Fiction
Explore some of the latest, and in some cases strangest, scientific theories that are dying to find their way into science fiction.
Mika McKinnon, Ariel Waldman, Annalee Newitz, David Shiffman, Tedd Roberts, Lauren Vogelbaum

19:00
Staring Into the Multiverse
Explore the history of 20th century cosmology and speculate about the concept of multiple universes.
Matt Lowry

20:30
The Brain is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts
Hear tales of the heroes whose (mis)fortunate accidents taught us more about the brain’s anatomy and its functional architecture.
Jennifer Watson

22:00
The Solve for X Science Show
SCIENCE! Puppet show, powerpoint karaoke, quiz game, storytelling – the scientists are loose, and nobody knows what could happen next.
Hilton Grand Ballroom East

Monday, 9-1-2014

10:00
Harry Potter and the Genetics of Wizarding
An evidence-based molecular and genetic characterization of the single gene that clearly controls magic use in the Harry Potter universe.
Eric Spana

11:30
I Sing the Songs of Science
If you really love science, why not sing about it? We have science songs to share.
Larry Morris, Donna Governor

13:00
Citizen Science Needs You!
Science isn’t something that only happens in universities. You can help add to what we know about the universe around us!
Nicole Gugliucci, Ariel Waldman

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