About once a month at Sigma Xi headquarters, we liven up the lunch hour with an
talk. In these informal lectures, scientists describe new research to non-scientists. Each Pizza Lunch offers an in-depth look at its subject, whether it's bedbugs or the smart grid.
After each talk,
editors chat with the speakers about their research. Anyone can listen in via our
Pizza Lunch podcast. Don’t miss our rich archives of full-length audio slideshows of earlier lectures, too.
When people think of the fastest animals, most consider running cheetahs, flitting hummingbirds, or jumping kangaroos. But there's a level above what we think of as “fast”: Ultrafast organisms conserve energy and move in nano- or even micro-seconds.
Dr. Sheila Patek discusses her research with two ultrafast creatures: mantis shrimp and trap-jaw ants.
In this Science Hangout, two animal behaviorists, Marian Wong of University of Wollongong in Australia and Peter Buston, PhD, of Boston University, explain to associate editor Katie Burke, PhD, that the clownfish behavior in the Disney-Pixar film Finding Nemo is completely off the mark.
The formation of tiny particles of pollutants in the atmosphere, raindrops in a cloud, and cosmic dust share common physics, closely related to a process called nucleation, the means by which molecules begin to form solids. The key unknown is the physics and behavior of nanoclusters that are far more complex than a single molecule, yet not big enough to be considered solids or liquids. Davide Lazzati, PhD, discusses his research on cosmic dust and how additional findings can improve the current theory's performance and ability to predict the properties and formation of nanoparticles.
There is little truth to the saying "what you don't know can't hurt you" when it comes to infection with bacteria in the genus Bartonella. Over two decades of research, veterinarian and professor of medicine Ed Breitschwerdt of North Carolina State University has shown that these bacteria can infect humans and other mammals, and in turn, cause a variety of perplexing symptoms.
"Penguins are 10 times older than humans and have been here for a very, very long time,"said Daniel Ksepka, Ph.D., a researcher at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). Dr. Ksepka researches the evolution of penguins and how they came to inhabit the African continent.
Because penguins have been around for over 60 million years, their fossil record is extensive. Fossils that Dr. Ksepka and his colleagues have discovered provide clues about migration patterns and the diversity of penguin species.
Dr. Ksepka goes into more depth about how his research is piecing together the evolutionary puzzle of penguins and other related bird species.
's first Google Hangout On Air, managing editor Fenella Saunders talks with Prof. Dr. Peter Gruss, president of the Max Planck Society, a nonprofit research organization that has promoted research at its own institutes since 1948, about growing basic research and the various ways to do so.
Click the title to view the recorded discussion!
Dr. Darlene Taylor
is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at
North Carolina Central University. She uses molecular engineering to develop what she calls “smart materials”- substances that can sense and respond in some way to a change in their environment. Perhaps the most exciting use for smart materials is helping to deliver powerful drugs to specific target sites deep inside the body without affecting other tissues along the way.
Dr. Taylor discusses her research in an interview with Sandra Ackerman, senior editor at American Scientist magazine