• Carl Sagan Day w/SSOMIT: Kaiser on "Quantum Jitters in the Sky," Talk and Party!

    Carl Sagan is celebrated by many humanists as a champion of science, and for his life work sharing the wonders of the Universe. In celebration of Carl Sagan Day 2019 (November 9), our friends at the Secular Society of MIT present a special talk by MIT professor of physics (and of the history of science) David I Kaiser, entitled "Quantum Jitters in the Sky: The Big Bang, Cosmic Inflation, and the Latest Observations" on Wednesday November 13, 2019 at 7 pm at MIT. "The passage from the Chaos of the Big Bang to the Cosmos that we are beginning to know is the most awesome transformation of matter and energy that we have been privileged to glimpse." -- Carl Sagan, Cosmos Physicists and astronomers have learned a lot about the earliest stages of our universe and how it evolved nearly 14 billion years ago, around the time of the "Big Bang." Several lines of evidence suggest that our universe underwent a very brief period of rapid, violent expansion, doubling in size every trillion-trillion-trillionth of a second, in a period known as "cosmic inflation." Cosmic inflation predicts several features of our universe today, from its shape and overall smoothness across vast distances, to the clumpiness we observe on shorter scales, ranging from the human-sized to the supergalactic. Major clues about this dramatic era of our cosmic history come from tiny, subtle patterns in the early glow from the big bang known as the cosmic microwave background radiation. Recent measurements have confirmed these predictions to high accuracy, yielding new insights into the quantum state of the universe during its earliest moments. Dr Kaiser co-directs a research group on early-universe cosmology with Alan Guth in MIT’s Center for Theoretical Physics, and has also designed and helped to conduct novel experimental tests of quantum theory. He will speak about the dramatic era of our cosmic history known as Cosmic Inflation, informed by the tiny, subtle patterns in the early glow from the big bang known as the cosmic microwave background radiation, and the insights thus yielded into the quantum state of the universe during its earliest moments. BIO: David Kaiser is Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and Professor of Physics at MIT. He is the author of several award-winning books on the history of modern physics, including "How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival" (2011), which focused on early efforts to understand strange phenomena like quantum entanglement, and was named “Book of the Year” by Physics World magazine. His latest book, "Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World," will be published in spring 2020. Kaiser co-directs a research group on early-universe cosmology with Alan Guth in MIT’s Center for Theoretical Physics, and has also designed and helped to conduct novel experimental tests of quantum theory. A Fellow of the American Physical Society, Kaiser has received MIT's highest awards for excellence in teaching. His work has been featured in Science, Nature, the New York Times, and the New Yorker magazine. His group’s recent efforts to conduct a “Cosmic Bell” test of quantum entanglement were featured in a documentary film, “Einstein’s Quantum Riddle,” which premiered on PBS in January. NOTE: the event will be photographed and recorded. Presentation followed by Q&A. Free entry. Free apple pie and mocktail cosmos! Facebook event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/476443356287248/ MIT event link: http://calendar.mit.edu/event/ssomit_sagan_day_2019 More about Sagan Day: https://centerforinquiry.org/celebrate-carl-sagan-day-november-9th/ FINDING THE LOCATION: Building 2, 2-190 is at 182 MEMORIAL DR, Cambridge, MA 02139 (1st Floor, 182 Memorial Drive, https://whereis.mit.edu/?go=2)

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  • November Talk: Salman Khan, 'Human Rights and Pluralism in Today's Pakistan'

    Freedom of religion or belief is one of the Universal Human Rights promoted by the United Nations, long promoted by believers as well as humanists and secularists. Defending our separation of religion and state has long been one of our primary goals as American humanists, but in other parts of the world this struggle goes on. In this talk, Salman Khan (Sal Khan) will shed light on the pluralistic past of Pakistan, rising discrimination against minorities, including restrictions imposed on the civil society and media, and the limits to religious freedom under the current regime. He will also discuss how draconian laws such as blasphemy and cybercrime laws are being used to stifle dissent, and the particular plight of LGBT+ asylum seekers in the US. Salman will also share his experience of growing up in Karachi, his journey of coming to terms with his sexuality and being a spiritual atheist and activist in a religiously conservative country like Pakistan. SPEAKER BIO: Muhammad Salman Khan (Sal Khan) is an openly gay activist and journalist from Pakistan, who has worked extensively towards advancing LGBT+ equality, human rights and environmental literacy for the past five years. He is the founder of his country's only active LGBT+ magazine 'Queeristan' and was selected this year by the DC-based Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) as their 'Global Fellow' in recognition of LGBT+ activism. Due to the rising threats to his life, he has been forced to live in exile now in the US and is currently based in Boston awaiting his asylum decision. In the meantime, he continues to support secular, progressive and LGBT+ causes in the US and in Pakistan. Salman is working on a memoir about growing up gay and his work as a gay activist/journalist in Pakistan, and his present life as an LGBT+ asylum seeker in the US. The event will be photographed and recorded. Socializing will follow the talk. FREE Parking will be available in the nearby Littauer Center parking lot, as well as free meter parking in Cambridge on Sundays. For Littauer, enter the Maxwell Dworkin Science Quadrangle from Oxford St (opposite the Natural History Museum). Wind your way through to the Littauer Lot at the end of the road. This lies between the Law School Library and the Science Center. Phillips Brooks House is just across from the Science Center in Harvard Yard. Harvard Square MBTA (train and bus) station is just steps away from Phillips Brooks House, which is in the corner of Harvard Yard just across from the Science Center. Parking is also available on the street (free in Cambridge on Sundays).

  • October Talk: Shaina Rogstag 'Climate Change & Climate Action in Massachusetts'

    Climate change affects the entire planet, but what the impacts look like vary geographically. What will it look like here in Massachusetts, what is being done about it, and how can we help? This month, following September's Climate Strike and ramped up activism around the globe, please join us for a special presentation about projections for climate change in Massachusetts over the next century and how we can respond to it led by Shaina Rogstad. We will discuss current Massachusetts legislative action that aims to combat the climate crisis, and what we can do as individuals to support and expand it. Shaina is a Ph.D Candidate at UMass Amherst in the Department of Geosciences. Her research focuses on using global climate modeling to determine how the climate system as a whole might respond to changes in the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS). Her social media handle is @ScienceShaina. The event will be photographed and recorded. Snacks and socializing will follow the talk. FREE Parking will be available in the nearby Littauer Center parking lot, as well as free meter parking in Cambridge on Sundays. For Littauer, enter the Maxwell Dworkin Science Quadrangle from Oxford St (opposite the Natural History Museum). Wind your way through to the Littauer Lot at the end of the road. This lies between the Law School Library and the Science Center. Phillips Brooks House is just across from the Science Center in Harvard Yard. Harvard Square MBTA (train and bus) station is just steps away from Phillips Brooks House, which is in the corner of Harvard Yard just across from the Science Center. Parking is also available on the street (free in Cambridge on Sundays).

  • Humanist Small Group (2nd, 4th THURS.) October 24: On Kindness

    Join our GBH Small Group Discussion for "building community through self-reflection, vulnerability and story-telling." We will meet at the Capital Cafe on the 2nd and 4th THURSDAYS of each month (Note: this is a NEW WEEKDAY for these meetings and a start time half an hour later. Mark your calendars now for the following Small Group meeting on Thursday, November 14, also at 7). The next Group meeting will be THURSDAY OCTOBER 24 and the topic will be Kindness. "Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not." -Samuel Johnson How can we practice kindness even when it is difficult? Opportunities abound to focus on academic discussion and debate. Finding a space to feel safe opening up and being vulnerable in community is much less common. HSG aims to be that space where we share personal experiences related to the topic. Following group agreements and introductions (of both people and topic), the discussion will take place in three rounds. During the first two rounds, participants have the opportunity to share personal experiences related to the topic once each round without interruption, feedback or advice giving. This format insures introverts have an opportunity to share. The third round is an open discussion where you may speak more than once. This program is hosted by Greater Boston Humanists. Stay tuned here for topics of future Humanist Small Group meeting dates. Capital One Cafe is accessible by MTBA and is located steps away from the Harvard Square T station on JFK Street.

  • Other Secular Community Events of Interest: Dawkins/Tegmark October 13

    There's a lot going on, as most of our secular community groups in the area have launched their Fall seasons. I've listed some of these events with links to their separate organizations and MeetUp pages earlier, but we are down to this one. Don't forget to mark next GBH Talk on your calendar: Sunday afternoon, October 27 about Environmental activism in Massachusetts. -- Sunday, October 13,[masked] pm Richard Dawkins and Max Tegmark will speak together at The Somerville Theater, Somerville Ma. "Join bestselling author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in conversation with fellow scientist and author Max Tegmark as they discuss science, secularism, current events and more! This enlightening 90 minutes will feature an audience Q&A and wrap up with a book signing with both Richard and Max. Don't miss the chance to spend an evening with these two giants of reason!" Tickets are $27 from box office or ticketmaster. Info here: https://www1.ticketmaster.com/richard-dawkins-with-max-tegmark/event/010056F1A1B45CA9

  • Humanist Small Group (2nd, 4th THURS.) October 10: "The Movies" and You

    Join our GBH Small Group Discussion for "building community through self-reflection, vulnerability and story-telling." We will meet at the Capital Cafe on the 2nd and 4th THURSDAYS of each month (Note: this is a NEW WEEKDAY for these meetings and a start time half an hour later. Mark your calendars now for the following Small Group meeting on Thursday, October 24, also at 7). The next Group meeting will be THURSDAY OCTOBER 10 and the topic will be "The Movies"… How do they affect us personally? what impact do they have on society? What do the movies mean to you? Opportunities abound to focus on academic discussion and debate. Finding a space to feel safe opening up and being vulnerable in community is much less common. HSG aims to be that space where we share personal experiences related to the topic. Following group agreements and introductions (of both people and topic), the discussion will take place in three rounds. During the first two rounds, participants have the opportunity to share personal experiences related to the topic once each round without interruption, feedback or advice giving. This format insures introverts have an opportunity to share. The third round is an open discussion where you may speak more than once. This program is hosted by Greater Boston Humanists. Stay tuned here for topics of future Humanist Small Group meeting dates. Capital One Cafe is accessible by MTBA and is located steps away from the Harvard Square T station on JFK Street.

  • Humanist Small Group (NEW: 2nd, 4th THURS.) Sept. 26: What is Addiction to You?

    Join our GBH Small Group Discussion for "building community through self-reflection, vulnerability and story-telling." We will meet at the Capital Cafe on the 2nd and 4th THURSDAYS of each month (Note: this is a NEW WEEKDAY for these meetings and a start time half an hour later. Mark your calendars now for the following Small Group meeting on Thursday, October 10, also at 7). The next Group meeting will be THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 26 and the topic will be "What is 'addiction' to you?" If you had any new insights from GBH's Equinox luncheon talk about a naturalistic view of addiction, how do you think about addiction as a result? Do you know anyone suffering from addictions and how do you deal with that? Opportunities abound to focus on academic discussion and debate. Finding a space to feel safe opening up and being vulnerable in community is much less common. HSG aims to be that space where we share personal experiences related to the topic. Following group agreements and introductions (of both people and topic), the discussion will take place in three rounds. During the first two rounds, participants have the opportunity to share personal experiences related to the topic once each round without interruption, feedback or advice giving. This format insures introverts have an opportunity to share. The third round is an open discussion where you may speak more than once. This program is hosted by Greater Boston Humanists. Stay tuned here for topics of future Humanist Small Group meeting dates. Capital One Cafe is accessible by MTBA and is located steps away from the Harvard Square T station on JFK Street.

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  • Equinox Lunch/Talk: Tom Clark "Addiction: a Naturalistic Perspective"

    We'll gather to celebrate the Fall Equinox (which takes place the following day!) with a Luncheon on Sunday September 22 featuring an Indian buffet meal at the India Pavilion in Central Square Cambridge, followed by special guest speaker Tom Clark. The topic is "Addiction as Compulsion and Choice: A Naturalistic Perspective" Addiction is an increasingly visible case study in the philosophy and science of human agency. Those seeking to prevent and treat addiction often portray it as a brain disease involving drug-induced compulsion, but the disease model is criticized for ignoring the role of voluntary choice in addictive behavior. A naturalistic understanding of addiction can incorporate both compulsion and choice as fully caused phenomena, traceable to past and current biopsychosocial factors, not an uncaused or self-caused personal will. Such an understanding can help mitigate the stigma surrounding addiction and assist in the development of effective modes of treatment and prevention. Philosopher Tom Clark hosts Naturalism.Org, one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on worldview naturalism, its implications and applications. He is also a research associate at the Institute for Behavioral Health at Brandeis University, working on solutions to drug addiction and other behavioral disorders. Related web page: https://www.naturalism.org/applied-naturalism/mental-and-behavioral-health The India Pavillion in Central Square Cambridge (vegetarian options, only $14 per person for all you care to eat, not including drinks; bring cash or check, please). Parking in Cambridge is free on Sundays in metered and some non-metered spots, and several garages and lots in Central Square including several just steps away on Green Street. MBTA red line Central Square station and associated bus stops are also within the block. RSVP here, or via Facebook, or by responding to your email list email, but NOT all three, please, so we can give the restaurant a good sense of our size. Thanks! (Don't forget the GBH sponsored Humanist Small Group Discussion which will meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays this Fall. More information here at bostonhumanists.org).

  • Other Secular Community Events of Interest in late September, early October

    There's a lot going on, as most of our secular community groups in the area launch their Fall seasons, as well as some unusually important standalone events coming up. Here are some of these events with links to their separate organizations and MeetUp pages. Don't forget to join us at our GBH Equinox Luncheon and Talk this Sunday afternoon: https://www.meetup.com/GreaterBostonHumanists/events/264498840/ -- Friday, September 20, 2019 all day, everywhere Many humanists and secular people will join in the Global Climate Strike. For more information about specifically humanist perspectives and actions, see https://hereforclimate.org/events/global-climate-strike/ -- Saturday, September 21,[masked] pm Boston Atheists invites everyone to their Equinox Family Fun Day of Apple Picking, at Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Mass. Drivers can get info here: https://www.meetup.com/bostonatheists/events/264902368/ Those who want to get a ride with someone from Boston, here: https://www.meetup.com/bostonatheists/events/264902552/?rv=ea1_v2&_xtd=gatlbWFpbF9jbGlja9oAJGQ0NDUyYzA4LThkZDUtNGE5ZS1hYjk2LTNkODNlYzBlYTYxMA -- Wednesday, October 2,[masked]:30 pm Concord Area Humanists (CAH) program: Professor Richard Forman speaking on “Town Ecology”, at First Parish in Concord, 120 Lexington Rd. Richard has been called “Father” of Landscape Ecology for his work linking Ecological Science with spatial patters, describing how people and nature interweave. https://www.meetup.com/ConcordAreaHumanists/events/261744687/ -- Sunday, October 13,[masked] pm Richard Dawkins and Max Tegmark will speak together at The Somerville Theater, Somerville Ma. "Join bestselling author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in conversation with fellow scientist and author Max Tegmark as they discuss science, secularism, current events and more! This enlightening 90 minutes will feature an audience Q&A and wrap up with a book signing with both Richard and Max. Don't miss the chance to spend an evening with these two giants of reason!" Tickets are $27 from box office or ticketmaster. Info here: https://www1.ticketmaster.com/richard-dawkins-with-max-tegmark/event/010056F1A1B45CA9

  • Humanist Small Group (NEW DAY: 2nd, 4th THURSDAYS): Sept. 12: What is Family?

    This Fall season members of the group decided to move the meeting day to Thursdays, so the next one is September 12 at 7 pm. Join our GBH Small Group Discussion for "building community through self-reflection, vulnerability and story-telling." We will meet at the Capital Cafe on the 2nd and 4th THURSDAYS of each month (Note: this is a NEW WEEKDAY for these meetings and a start time half an hour later. Mark your calendars now for the following Small Group meeting on Thursday, 26th Sept. also at 7). The next Group meeting will be THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 12 and the topic will be "What is family? What does family mean to you? Where do we find family?" Opportunities abound to focus on academic discussion and debate. Finding a space to feel safe opening up and being vulnerable in community is much less common. HSG aims to be that space where we share personal experiences related to the topic. Following group agreements and introductions (of both people and topic), the discussion will take place in three rounds. During the first two rounds, participants have the opportunity to share personal experiences related to the topic once each round without interruption, feedback or advice giving. This format insures introverts have an opportunity to share. The third round is an open discussion where you may speak more than once. This program is hosted by Greater Boston Humanists. Stay tuned here for topics of future Humanist Small Group meeting dates. Capital One Cafe is accessible by MTBA and is located steps away from the Harvard Square T station on JFK Street.

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