2019 Lecture Series

Each evening begins with a social hour at 6:00 p.m., followed by a presentation and Q&A session from 6:45 to 8:00 p.m.

Lectures are held at Temple Har Shalom:
3700 North Brookside Court
Park City, UT 84060

Wednesday, May 8, 2019
The Past, Present, and Future of Using Data for Good
Daniel Hadley
Managing Director, Sorenson Impact Center
From early modern uses of demographics to today’s artificial intelligence, humans have found social utility in data. In this talk, Hadley will describe notable uses of data and statistics to improve health, end wars, reduce parking tickets, and generally make the world a better place. He will also share some examples from his work as a data scientist who collaborates with governments, funders, and nonprofits to solve social problems. Curious about where crimes happen in Salt Lake, or how one city used Bayesian statistics to get rid of rats? Come hear about the promise and pitfalls of using data for social good.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019
The Culture War Over Public Restrooms
Terry S. Kogan
Professor of Law, S.J. Quinney College of Law
Public restrooms sit at the vortex of a culture war now waging against transgender people in America. Recently, states and municipalities have passed laws mandating that access to this space be based on birth sex and not gender identity—which wreaks havoc on the lives of gender-nonconforming people. The justification for these laws is often based on the assumption that public restrooms have always been sex-separated based on simple anatomical differences between men and women. In this presentation, Kogan will show how this assumption is false. In fact, restrooms in America were not sex-designated until the 1850s. The justification for this practice was based on an early nineteenth-century sexist ideology that viewed women as weak and vulnerable and therefore in need of protective spaces whenever they left their domestic havens to enter the dangerous public realm. Understanding the biased origins of our practice of separating restrooms by sex can aid in imagining new ways to configure public restrooms, ways that provide safety and privacy for all patrons while discriminating against no one.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Is Water the New Oil?
Alan D. Eastman
Instructor, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Cofounder and CTO, GreenFire Energy
Water can be considered the “new oil” in that it is replacing oil as the cause of local, regional, and even global conflicts. Of course, we in Utah know about some of the problems that water shortages and uneven distribution can cause. Look, for example, at the efforts of St. George to build a pipeline from Lake Powell, or the rather embarrassing discovery that about 20% more water has been allocated from the Colorado River than actually flows! But it’s even worse than that: one of the world’s largest lakes has completely dried up because countries upstream took all its inflow water and countries downstream used all the lake water for irrigation. Last year, Egypt threatened war with Ethiopia because the latter started building a dam that would reduce the flow of the Nile by about 2%—and recently, the chief architect of that dam was found murdered in his apartment. Plus, water itself is pretty interesting: for example, it’s not native to planet Earth, but was deposited by asteroids (really, that’s what the science says!) This talk will open your eyes to the role of water in our world and some of the problems we’ll face as we cope with the unpleasant fact that we have all the water there is—and it doesn’t seem to be enough.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Ethical Issues in Editing our Genes
Jeffrey R. Botkin
Professor of Pediatrics, Associate Vice President for Research
In recent years, exciting new developments in genetic technology like CRISPR–Cas9 enable the “editing” of the genomes of bacteria, animals, cells in our bodies and, potentially, human embryos. This technology is proving to be remarkably efficient and relatively inexpensive, putting it in reach of many scientists across the world. While this approach offers opportunities to treat genetic diseases, it also offers the opportunity to manipulate human embryos to either target genetic diseases or, potentially, “enhance” their genetic traits. Of note, genetic changes to embryos will be inherited down through subsequent generations. This presentation will address the ethical issues and controversies associated with germ-line genetic manipulations in human embryos. This set of issues has been the focus of extensive analysis over the years, largely in a hypothetical context. Now the prospects of actual clinical interventions are at hand and it is critical that the public be aware of these exciting and potentially alarming developments.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Red rocks and marbles from Earth to Mars: Tales of science and crime
Marjorie A. Chan
Professor of Geology, Department of Geology & Geophysics
The colorful red and white sandstones of southern Utah provide valuable analogs to help interpret geology on Mars. Recent, rich displays of surface features remotely imaged on Mars indicate past watery conditions, with the tantalizing potential for extraterrestrial life. This talk features comparisons between Utah’s marble-like concretions (cemented mineral masses) and the Martian “blueberries” imaged by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, in addition to other sedimentary features Earth and Mars share in common. And, you’ll find out what happened in the “Case of the Missing Marbles,” when Utah’s distinctive concretions were stolen from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.