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ORICL - Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning
Science and Technology
Science and Technology

550     The Art and Craft of Problem Solving

rubiks cubeThe course title is the title of a book by Paul Zeitz, an Olympiad coach. He, and other coaches like him, have codified various strategies for solving Olympiad problems in books like the one cited. This course will deal with eight of the major strategies. Each strategy will be elucidated in one lecture by means of carefully chosen examples. The presentations in class will be supplemented by a detailed written handout.  A problem may be suggested for your consideration at home. The only background needed is that provided by high-school mathematics (the Olympiads are for high-school students).  

Lawrence Dresner worked for ORNL from 1954 until 1994.  He has a PhD in physics from Princeton University.  Since his retirement, his main hobby has been recreational mathematics.  He has been an annual lecturer at ORICL since 2002.

Eight Sessions:  Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. - 12:10 p.m., September 25, October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, November 6 and 13

551 The World of Science FairsScience Fair

Every May over 1,500 students from 50 states and tens of countries participate in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).  This year’s ISEF fair was held in Los Angeles next door to the Clippers and Thunder NBA playoffs.  To reach the international level, the projects advance through local, regional, and state competitions. The project topics cover everything from agriculture to zoology and display an astonishing level of ingenuity and understanding.  Best of all, the students are bright, enthusiastic, and create an atmosphere of excitement and expectations for future accomplishments. The prizes include four-year scholarships, cash awards, and summer research experiences.

Lee Berry has a PhD in physics, and was a long-time staff member at ORNL in fusion.  He has a particular interest in science education.

One session:  Monday, 11:00 a.m. - 12:10 p.m., September 22

552 Life in Our Universe

This course will be a continuation of the course offered during the Summer 2014 term.  The series of 30 minute lectures by Professor Laird Close of The University of Arizona will be continued.

Topics will include:  Discovery of Extrasolar Planets, The Kepler Spacecraft’s Planets, A Tour of Exotic Alien Solar Systems, Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life, SETI – The Search for Intelligent Life, and the Fermi Paradox – Where is Everyone?

Richard Wright received a commission in the U. S. Naval Reserve in March 1961.  He served as an instructor in physics and mathematics at the U. S. Naval Nuclear Power School from 1961-64.  He received an MS in mathematics from Emporia State University in 1965.  He was employed by Union Carbide at K-25 from 1965-69 and then worked at ORNL from 1970-2000.  He was employed as a consultant with the Nuclear Science and Technology Division at ORNL in 2005-2006 and is now retired.

Four sessions:  Thursdays, 9:30 - 10:40 a.m., September 25, October 2, 9 and 16

553 Synthetic Biology and Biofuels Production

synthetic biologySynthetic biology is the design and construction of biological devices and systems for useful purposes. In this class, we will introduce some examples of synthetic biology applications, and then focus on the creation of biofuels. For this purpose we will discuss bacterial micro-compartments, BMCs. These are small compartments that exist inside of some bacteria, and they act like small factories: they take products from the bacteria, carry out some chemical reactions, and release useful products back to the bacteria. We will explain how we can use BMCs, to create biofuels.

Miguel Fuentes-Cabrera received a BA and PhD from the University of La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.  He is a member of the Research Staff at the Center For Nanophase Materials Sciences Division, Computer Science and Mathematics Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  He is also an Associate Professor, Department of Materials Science & Engineering, The University of Tennessee.

Two sessions:  Tuesdays, 7:30 - 8:40 p.m., September 23 and 30

554 Using Neutrons to Understand the Universeneutrons

Thanks to its role in nuclear fission, it can be rightly said that ORNL owes its existence to the neutron.  Today ORNL is home to two of the world’s premier research facilities, the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) and the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS). Most of the research at these facilities takes advantage of unique abilities of the neutron to reveal information on the properties of materials under study. In these lectures a complementary facet of neutron research will be presented, one that takes advantage of unique abilities of neutrons to reveal why there is any matter at all in the universe today.

Vince Cianciolo is the Neutron Physics Group Leader within the Physics Division at ORNL and the project manager for the neutron electric dipole moment experiment at the Spallation Neutron Source. He has been at the lab for nearly 18 years, shortly after obtaining a PhD in nuclear physics at MIT. For most of that time his research has focused on measuring the outcome of collisions between extremely high-energy heavy nuclei, with the goal of studying matter at extremes of temperature and density not seen since a microsecond after the Big Bang. Recently his research focus has shifted to studying properties of neutrons with eighteen orders of magnitude less energy in an attempt to understand why that matter was even present.

Two sessions:  Mondays, 6:00 - 7:10 p.m., October 20 and 27

555 DNA Sequencing Technologies and Their Impact on Molecular Biology

dnaThe development and evolution of next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms has dramatically changed biological studies in recent years and is improving our understanding of relationships between microorganisms, the environment, human health and food production. Basic concepts around DNA and discovery of its function and structure will be introduced. This course will examine the evolution of DNA sequencing from the time of the Maxam and Gilbert method to the latest single-molecule sequencing techniques and the current third generation of massively parallel sequencers. This course will review different types of DNA sequencing technologies, their impact on molecular biology and applications, with a concentration on microbiology.

Steven D. Brown is a Staff Scientist in the Biosciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  Hs is Joint Faculty, Associate Professor, Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education and Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology.  He is also an Adjunct Faculty Member, Genome Sciences and Technology (GST) Graduate School University of Tennessee.

Three sessions:  Mondays, 5:00-6:10 p.m., November 3, 10, and 17

556 Technical Book Groupbook

The Technical Book Group will discuss nonfiction books on topics in science and technology.  The first session will discuss "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson.  This book presents vignettes on a number of topics (the author’s stated goal for the book was to educate himself), and may lead to interest in books devoted to particular topics.  Members are encouraged to bring suggestions for future books to the first meeting where selections for future monthly meetings will be made by majority vote.

Lee Berry is the class coordinator.

Three sessions:  Mondays, 4:00 - 5:10 p.m., September 29, October 20 and November 24

557     New Developments in Isotopes

cellsImmediately following the Manhattan Project, Clinton Laboratories experimented with the production of radioisotopes in the Graphite Reactor. Later, Calutrons at Y-12 were converted to enrich stable and radioactive isotopes that became ubiquitous in scientific research. Today Oak Ridge National Laboratory has a leading United States role in new initiatives with stable and radioactive isotopes.  In four lectures, ORNL scientists and engineers will describe recent isotope developments, primarily for applications in science, medicine and space exploration.

The speakers and topics to be discussed are:

Advanced Stable Isotope Separation Technologies - Brian Egle, Group Leader, Isotope Development

Targeted Cancer Therapy with Alpha-Emitting Radioisotopes - Saed Mirzadeh, Distinguished Research Scientist,  ORNL Medical Radioisotope Program

Medical Quality Radioisotopes - Rose Ann Boll, Senior R&D Scientist, Nuclear Materials Processing Group

Radioisotope Power for Deep Space Exploration - Robert Wham, Technology Manager for Pu-238 Production

Four sessions:  Tuesdays, 4:00 - 5:10 p.m., November 4, 11, 18, and December 2

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