• NCAS Skeptour: Visit to National Museum of Health and Medicine

    National Museum of Health and Medicine

    RSVP REQUIRED: If planning to attend, please send a message to [masked] with your name and how many are attending with you. NCAS has arranged for a group tour of the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM) in Silver Spring, Maryland on Saturday morning, May 18. NMHM promotes the science and history of medicine, with an emphasis on tri-service American military medicine. The Museum offers visitors a unique perspective on health and medicine because it is one of the few places where the public can actually see the effects of disease on the human body. Additionally, it is one of the few places that disease can be seen with the instruments and equipment used to diagnose and/or treat the disease, with case histories of patients afflicted with the disease. We will meet at the museum entrance at 10:00 am. A museum docent will take us on a 90 minute in-depth overview of the museum’s permanent exhibits, including “Military Medicine: Challenges and Innovations,” “Civil War Collections,” “The Human Body: Anatomy and Pathology,” and others. Optional: Following the anatomy lessons, those wishing to feed a healthy stomach will meet for lunch at nearby Pacci’s Trattoria (http://paccistrattoria.com/). Admission to the museum is free. You may be asked to show a government-issued photo ID at the front desk. Free parking is available. The museum is about 1 mile from the Forest Glen Metro Station on the Red line.

  • Free NCAS Talk: Houdini and the Spiritualists

    Connie Morella (Bethesda) Library

    To be presented by Ken Trombly. Note that this is being held on the first Saturday of the month. Much of the life of Harry Houdini was intertwined with episodes and personalities involving spiritualism and its practitioners. In his early days, he sometimes blurred the line between conjuring and the spirit world. During his meteoric career, many of his conjuring feats were ascribed by some to be aided by unseen forces. But he was very much the face of skepticism in the USA regarding the spiritualism movement. His friendship with Arthur Conan Doyle came to an end over the latter’s belief in spiritualism. He testified before a congressional committee in support of a bill to prohibit fortune telling in Washington, DC. His work against fake mediums continued up until his death. In this talk, Ken will share his thoughts concerning Houdini’s relationship with spiritualism and its adherents, and will illustrate this fascinating story with original items from his collection of Houdini ephemera. Ken Trombly, a lifelong magic enthusiast, has given presentations about the life of Houdini for a variety of groups. In the 1980’s Ken began collecting original letters, photos and other ephemera dealing with Houdini’s amazing career. Pieces from Ken's collection have been displayed at the Jewish Museum in New York City, the Skirball Center in Los Angeles, and, most recently, as part of an exhibit on the life of Houdini at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, in Baltimore. Recently Ken was interviewed on a mini-series aired on the Science Channel entitled “Houdini’s Last Secrets.” A Boston native, Ken is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Magic Circle of London and the Magic Collectors Association. When he is not hunting down original Houdini artifacts and magic posters, he is a full time trial lawyer - another role that requires a heightened sense of skepticism.

  • Free Talk: Suggestible You (You Can't Believe Everything You Think)

    Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center

    Presented by Erik Vance Science Writer and Reporter The human brain is a miracle of nature - one of the fastest computing machines on Earth, adept at finding patterns, recognizing faces, and making predictions of the future. It's also a dirty liar, a deceitful trickster and occasionally an unlicensed pharmacist. It all comes down to one of the most important concepts in psychology today - expectation. Join Erik Vance, author of the book "Suggestible You" as he explores the world of placebos, hypnosis, false memories, and neurology to reveal the groundbreaking science of our suggestible minds. Once you understand the role expectation plays in the brain, you can see why thousands of generations of humans have used superstition to heal their bodies. Faith healing, homeopathy, snake oil, shamans, late night commercials for overpriced miracle cures - all of them make sense when viewed through the lens of expectation and the brain. Drawing on centuries of research and interviews with leading experts in the field, Vance will take you on a fascinating adventure from Harvard's research labs to a witch doctor's office in Catemaco, Mexico, to an alternative medicine school near Beijing to your own local pharmacy. Along with his talk he will show slides from his 2016 "National Geographic" cover story and discuss why your Aunt Ethel swears by ginseng tea for her arthritis. Erik Vance is an award-winning science journalist based in Baltimore. Before becoming a writer he was, at turns, a biologist, a rock climbing guide, an environmental consultant, and an environmental educator. He graduated in 2006 from the UC Santa Cruz science writing program and became a magazine freelancer soon after. His work focuses on the human element of science – the people who do it, those who benefit from it, and those who do not. He has written for "The New York Times," "Nature," "Scientific American," "Harper’s," "National Geographic," and a number of other local and national outlets. He lived in Mexico City for seven years and has worked extensively in Latin America and Asia, covering the environment and its effect on humans.

  • Free Talk: MIND CONTROL and other things DARPA has never done

    Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center

    Presented by Jared B. Adams Chief of Communications and Public Affairs, U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Since its founding during the Eisenhower presidency, DARPA has been the rightful recipient of scorn and praise for investing in and developing military technologies as varied as Agent Orange and the ARPAnet, a precursor to today’s internet. And while much of the agency’s key contributions to science and national security have been well documented in books such as "The Pentagon’s Brain," "The Imagineers of War," and "The Department of Mad Scientists," myths about DARPA’s work still abound on social media and in the mainstream press. In this talk, you will hear from Jared Adams, DARPA’s chief of communications, about some of the popular and humorous myths regarding the agency’s research, including how it controls the world’s weather, is building AI-equipped super soldiers, and is actively managing Facebook to read people’s thoughts. Also, Adams will discuss the importance of transparency in government public affairs and how, when dealing with contentious areas of scientific research, the best tack is often to be open, honest, and direct. Jared Adams joined the DARPA Public Affairs Office in 2014, first serving as the agency’s press secretary for three years before becoming the chief of communications in July 2017. Prior to DARPA, Adams served in senior public affairs positions in the Washington, D.C. area with Harris, SAIC, and Raytheon. In addition to his in-house communications experience, Adams has provided public relations counsel to several high-profile organizations, including Dell, Microsoft, Verizon, U. S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and U.S. Northern Command. Free and open to the public. Directions and parking info: http://tinyurl.com/bcccenter

  • Real or Imaginary? Led Zeppelin in Wheaton

    AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center

    January 1969: Rock band Led Zeppelin released their first album and were on their first North American tour...Denver, Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Spokane, L.A., San Francisco, Iowa City, Detroit, Wheaton, Boston, New York. Wait a minute--Wheaton?!?! As in, Wheaton, Maryland? Yes. At least, some people say so, that they were at the show. Filmmaker Jeff Krulik will present his take on this enduring local legend, on the 50th anniversary of the very night the concert was alleged to have taken place, January 20, 1969. "Led Zeppelin Played Here" AFI Silver Theatre 8633 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD Sunday, January 20,[masked] PM The showing of this movie is not an official NCAS event, but we thought it might be of interest to our members, so we're promoting this as a Meetup. Advance tickets for this movie may be purchased at https://silver.afi.com/Browsing/Movies/Details/f-0100002297 Film trailer: https://youtu.be/f0Oe__0j0AU After the show, enjoy a total eclipse of the Moon starting at 10:34 PM! (No ticket required, only clear skies. Totality will occur from 11:41 PM to 12:43 AM.)

  • Free NCAS Talk: Science Education and Storytelling...

    Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library

    Science Education and Storytelling: Combatting Denialism With Better (and True!) Stories Presented by Sean B. Carroll, Ph.D Dept. of Science Education, Howard Hughes Medical Institute From Dr. Seuss to Disney, Harry Potter to Game of Thrones, we grow up and live in a world teeming with stories. In all forms of media - books, films, television, radio, and the internet, stories are the currency of everyday life. Yet they are strangely absent from the science classroom. Despite a universal appreciation and thirst for stories, and considerable evidence for their pedagogical power, stories are underutilized in formal education, and in learning science in particular. One of my main goals as a scientist, educator, and storyteller is to encourage the use of stories in science education. I will discuss why stories have an important place in the science classroom, and how they can help further the inroads being made in the teaching and acceptance of contentious subjects such as evolution. Sean B. Carroll is an award-winning evolutionary biologist, author, educator, and film producer. He leads the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the largest private supporter of science education activities in the US, is the Executive Director of HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, and is the Andrew and Mary Balo and Nicholas and Susan Simon Endowed Chair of Biology at the University of Maryland. He is also Professor Emeritus of Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin. A prominent science communicator in print and on film, Carroll is the author of eight books, and has served as an executive producer of nearly thirty feature or short documentary films including The Farthest: Voyager in Space which recently won the Emmy for Outstanding Science Documentary. Carroll is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. http://seanbcarroll.com/ PLEASE NOTE THE (SOMEWHAT) NEW LOCATION FOR THIS TALK.

  • Free Talk - Genomic Medicine: Today and Tomorrow

    ARGOSY University in Rosslyn - 7th floor

    Presented by Anastasia Wise, Ph. D. Genomic medicine, utilizing genomic information in clinical care, aims to improve clinical management, prevent complications, and promote health. With many names often used interchangeably, including genomic medicine, precision medicine, and personalized medicine, we’ll discuss what genomic medicine is and the clinical testing that is available today to improve diagnosis and therapy. We’ll explore common misconceptions as well as success stories regarding genomic medicine implementation, particularly disease diagnosis, and conclude with what may be possible in the future. Dr. Wise is a program director in the Division of Genomic Medicine at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). She received her Ph.D. in genetics and genomics from Duke University and joined NHGRI in 2010. At NHGRI she serves as project officer for programs advancing the application of genomics to medical science and clinical care with a focus on perinatal sequencing, undiagnosed and rare disease genomic medicine, and sex chromosome analysis and association methods. She is also a project scientist for the Newborn Sequencing in Genomic Medicine and Public Health (NSIGHT) program, which aims to explore the potential implications, challenges and opportunities associated with the possible use of genomic sequence information in the newborn period. Her other research interests include gene-environment interactions in complex disease, pharmaco/toxicogenomics, and ethical, legal, and social issues related to the use of genetic information. Argosy University is near the Rosslyn Metro. Parking garage accessible from N. Pierce Street. THERE IS CONTROLLED BUILDING ACCESS SO PLEASE ARRIVE ON TIME.

  • Meet the SGU Podcast Rogues!

    Cambria hotel & suites Washington, D.C. Convention Center

    The Rogues of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast are going to be in Washington, D.C., and you have the opportunity to meet them! Join us on Saturday, December 1 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at the Cambria Hotel lounge, located at 899 O St NW in Washington, DC. The lounge has full dinner service as well as a bar. Pick up the new book “The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake” beforehand and they will be happy to sign it for you (available at Amazon.com and other online booksellers). Not sure who or what the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe is? “The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is a weekly, 80-minute podcast hosted by Steven Novella, MD, and a panel of "skeptical rogues". It is the official podcast of the New England Skeptical Society. The show features discussions of recent scientific developments in layman's terms, and interviews authors, people in the area of science and other famous skeptics. The show also includes discussions of myths, conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, the paranormal, and many general forms of superstition, from the point of view of scientific skepticism.” (Wikipedia.org) The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast has been producing weekly episodes since 2005. Visit https://www.theskepticsguide.org/ to listen to the latest episode or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. For those coming by Metro from Greenbelt and points after, the Shaw – Howard University station is where you'd want to exit. It is a 0.3 mile walk from the Shaw station to the hotel. Red Line riders may, if they wish, walk 0.7 miles from the Gallery Place station to the hotel, or take a free shuttle to the Mt. Vernon Sq. station and walk 0.3 miles, or take bus 70. There will be no Yellow Line service at all on Dec. 1 Metro track work schedules are subject to change, so if you are coming by Metro, be sure to check their website before heading out. Parking in the garage at[masked]th Street NW will be $6.00 per hour according to what I was told by Colonial Parking. I don’t know if any special events that night might affect the cost. The rep at the hotel told me it would be $25.

  • Free Talk: The Disappearance of "Cyclops": Lost Without a Trace

    Presented by Marvin W. Barrash. Note that this will take place on the *first* Saturday of the month. 2018 marks the centennial of the final voyage of U.S.S. Cyclops, a U.S. Navy collier. After departing Barbados for Baltimore on March 4, 1918, no radio signal was received from it, and no trace of the 542-foot vessel or the 309 people aboard was ever found. The details of this genuine mystery of the sea have been obscured by sensational promoters of “The Bermuda Triangle” myth, but author Marvin W. Barrash has meticulously researched the legendary ship and the men aboard her, including one of his great-uncles, in his book, "U.S.S. Cyclops" (Heritage Books, 2010). What are the more likely explanations for the disappearance of Cyclops, and where might the wreck be found? The solution to this century-old mystery may soon be within reach. A life member of the U.S. Naval Institute and the Naval Historical Foundation, Marvin W. Barrash has provided many years of volunteer service with the Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington Navy Yard. He has produced finding aids for many artifacts and documents, assisted in preservation of historical materials, and researched responses to historical inquiries. He has appeared on-camera as the subject matter expert concerning the U.S.S. Cyclops in two television documentaries produced for the National Geographic Channel. Barrash continues his research with the hope that the ship’s remains will be located and studied, not salvaged. Copies of U.S.S. Cyclops and his latest book, the prequel "Murder on the Abarenda" (Heritage Books, 2016), will be available for purchase and signing by the author. This talk is free and open to the public

  • Houdini Lecture and Exhibit (Registration Required)

    Jewish Museum of Maryland

    Want to learn more about the life of Harry Houdini, including his efforts to expose fraudulent spiritualists (which turned out to be all the ones he encountered)? Then you’ll want to be part of an NCAS meetup at the Jewish Museum of Maryland on Sunday, October 21. First, at 1:00 pm, Ken Trombly will give a talk titled “Capturing Houdini.” Ken Trombly is a passionate collector of memorabilia about the life of the most famous magician of all time, Harry Houdini. He will share some of his unique collection with us and tell fascinating stories about the “handcuff king and jailbreaker.” Then, after the lecture, we will take time to visit the extensive museum exhibit “Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini.” Details about the exhibit can be found at https://tinyurl.com/ybg9x7gg . Because October 21 is Free Baltimore Day, entry to the lecture and exhibit will be free (regularly $10.00). However, REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED to be sure of having a seat for the lecture. Registration is at https://tinyurl.com/y78zojbk. Once you’ve registered, please let us know you plan on attending by sending an e-mail to [masked]. The Jewish Museum of Maryland is located at 15 Lloyd Street in Baltimore. Parking around the museum is VERY LIMITED. Street parking, when available, is free on Sundays. For those who want to drive, we highly recommend carpooling. Traffic is likely to be heavy in the hours preceding the Ravens’ 4 PM kickoff at M&T Bank Stadium. Those interested in carpooling (offering or needing) can post a message in the comments section of the event listing on meetup.com, and then respondents can work out the logistics off list. Alternatively, Baltimore has a free bus service called the Charm City Circulator. Its Orange Route has a stop not far from the Jewish Museum of Maryland. There are a number of places to park along the Orange Route (http://www.charmcitycirculator.com/content/parking-orange-route ). We look forward to seeing you at this fun and educational event!