Science Matters is a free, public, adult education series, held at the California Science Center, where we explore critical and often controversial science issues at the forefront of public concern.
Each program begins with a presentation that illuminates the science behind the issue. A panel of nationally renowned experts from diverse perspectives then discuss its societal implications and respond to questions from the audience.
How does “fracking” work and what are its potential impacts on our communities? Do the economic benefits of this practice outweigh its health and environmental risks?
Does marijuana provide an effective alternative treatment for the symptoms of various medical conditions, as its advocates argue, or is it a dangerous substance with no proven medicinal value, as its opponents maintain, and thus should remain illegal?
Is the increase in autism cases real or just due to over diagnosis? And what are the ethical, social, and policy implications of how this disorder is defined, diagnosed, and treated in different communities?
Is a marine life protection plan compatible with a viable fishing industry? A panel of experts presents different sustainable fishing strategies within the context of marine science and fishery management.
Who will benefit? Who will pay? And what are the dangers inherent in the digitalization of health records?
How valid is the concept of race from the biological standpoint? Should race matter or should medicine be colorblind? How much should doctors and researchers place on the role of race in health issues?
What is the science of perception and memory that lie at the core of eyewitness testimony? Is the practice scientifically sound or inherently flawed?
Seven of the top ten illegal drugs used in the United States are prescription medications. What is the science of such addiction and treatment, and how should we respond? Does the best solution lie with more prescription drug legislation to further restrict the drug supply, or through more intense public education to decrease demand?
Scientific research on the human genome has pitted the hopes for progress toward the eradication of disease against ethical concerns about manipulating the human genome and worries over public access to private data. Do the prospects for improved health and productivity outweigh other concerns?
Speakers present the current science of obesity and
discuss the ethics of different approaches to the obesity
epidemic. Are we a society that controls what people
Nuclear fission reactors have long been controversial.
Yet, considering the current concern over global climate
change, pollution, and energy shortages worldwide,
is their role changing?
Fear is a universal emotion, yet poorly
understood by the general public. In presenting
both the science and ethics of fear, the speakers illuminated
the arresting power of fear and the ethical implications of
its use and abuse.
A science presentation explained the current science of global
warming and the means by which scientists evaluate the effects
of human activities and predict the impact of future climate
change. In this light, panelists discussed the range of human
responses to global warming and the potential roles played
by government, business and private citizens.
How will society deal with the impact of this powerful yet
infinitesimally small technology? Who will benefit from the
fruits of nanoscience and who will monitor its effect?
In our first Science Matters program of the year, a neurologist
presented the latest findings in brain research about the neural
processing of religious thought and experience. In light of
this research, panelists discussed how we reconcile these different
aspects of our brain in our understanding of the world. Are
humans genetically hard-wired for critical thinking and religious
spirituality, and what are the implications for the compatibility
of science and faith in the human experience? Can we believe
in science and still have faith?
Popular news magazines report that for $30,000 you can clone
your cat, and soon you will be able to clone your dog. Scientists
and ethicists explained the current science of cloning and
what's possible in the near future. In this light, a panel
of experts discussed the responsibilities, obligations, and
implications associated with reproductive cloning.
How do we ascertain when life ends? In this program, scientists,
physicians and ethicists reviewed various ways of measuring
life, and discussed related legal, ethical, and cultural aspects
of this question.
The first in this program series looked at the Promise and
Pitfalls of Stem Cell Research.