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Senior Mondays

The First Monday of Each Month

The first Monday of every month, seniors 65 and better can enjoy the Science Center exhibits, a show in the Heikoff Giant Dome Theater and a lecture on the quietest day of the month for only $8! No coupons or additional discounts are accepted. The Fleet's doors will open at 10 a.m. on the first Monday each month to get Senior Monday started. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the galleries and special senior discounts in Craveology and the North Star Science Store.

Sharp Minds Lecture Series for Adults

Join local scientists to learn about a variety of topics as they share their latest research in a friendly and exciting environment. Sharp Minds lectures begin at 10:30 a.m. on the first Monday of the month (except Labor Day) and are held in the Heikoff Giant Dome Theater.

The Sharp Minds lecture is free with purchase of the noon theater ticket. Tickets are required to attend the lecture and can be requested at the Ticket Counter. 



Date: February 4, 2019

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Noon Theater Show: Born to be Wild

God Food: The History of Chocolate and New Science on its Health Benefits

Cacao held great prominence in the life of Mesoamerican Indians for thousands of years. It held great value (was used as money) and was recognized for its health promoting capacities including its ability to increase muscle strength and endurance. Recently, these properties have re-emerged and science appears to support these historical claims which will be presented in this talk.


Dr. Villarreal is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). He trained as a Medical Doctor in the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, Mexico. He pursued doctoral (Ph.D. in Physiology and Pharmacology, 1989) and postdoctoral studies at UCSD. Major areas of research interest include cardiac pathophysiology and cardioprotection. Over the years Dr. Villarreal has published more than 100 manuscripts in peer review journals. The early focus of this work related to understanding the pathophysiology of cardiac remodeling and fibrosis. Later work focused on pharmacological strategies to protect the heart from infarction. Most recently his work has evolved to examine the cardioprotective effects of the cacao flavanol (-)-epicatechin. A series of pre-clinical and clinical studies has yielded encouraging results leading this area to be the major focus of his current work. Support for this work is provided by USA federal funding agencies and private entities. Dr. Villarreal is also a founder of Cardero Therapeutics Inc. a biotechnology start-up. 

Date: March 4, 2019

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Noon Theater Show: Adventures in Wild California

Invasion of the Gene Snatchers! How antibiotic-resistant bacteria swap and steal each others' armor

When antibiotics were discovered in the mid-1900's, we thought we had finally beaten bacteria. Now, the bugs are fighting back, outsmarting our best and strongest antibiotics faster than we can come up with new ones. Some experts even warn of a "post-antibiotic era". What makes these new superbugs so super? Is there any hope? We'll discuss how bacteria are using and even shortcutting evolution to escape our drugs, what scientists are trying to do about it, and the ongoing role of serendipity in scientific discovery and progress.


Dr. Robert Cooper is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego, studying synthetic biology and antibiotic resistance. Coming from an undergraduate physics background, he tries to apply a quantitative understanding to biological problems, and he always keeps an eye out for things that don't quite make sense. He is also dedicated to science communication, having spoken at Suds & Science, Pint of Science, and 2 Scientists Walk Into A Bar, blogged for science news sites, and twice organized a 30-table science expo at the March For Science – San Diego, put on by San Diego For Science, a new non-profit of which he is a cofounder.

Date: April 1, 2019

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Noon Theater Show: Dream Big

Renewable Energy—The Coming Revolution

The energy industry is in the midst of a sea change in technology as renewable options—especially solar and wind—become cheaper and more widespread and fossil fuels lose market share. The result is likely to be less expensive, cleaner and more resilient power systems.


Mr. Bob Hemphill graduated from Yale University, after which he became a Green Beret and platoon leader in Vietnam. He later joined the Energy Department as the Deputy Assistant Secretary and also served as the Deputy Manager of Power at the Tennessee Valley Authority. He was one of the initial partners in the electric company AES, which went from a $1M start up to a $7B public company. He later served as the CEO of AES Solar, a startup which went from its inception to 51 solar plants and $2.5B in assets in five years. Mr. Hemphill has authored two books about energy and international business and is the Founder and CEO of Sunshine Soldiers, a non-profit focusing on renewable energy education.

Date: May 6, 2019

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Noon Theater Show: Amazing Journeys

Exploring Space in a Tin Can:  How Mercury and Vostok Opened up the Universe Forever

Six decades ago, two superpowers committed themselves to getting a human traveler into orbit.  Within three years, the space barrier had been broken by both sides.  How did we achieve that unprecedented goal?  Who were the brave souls who made the journey?  And how did we stumble along the way?  Come learn the story and  the science of the first chapter of humanity's cosmic adventure.  Discover the legacy of Mercury and Vostok!


Gideon Marcus is a professional space historian with degrees in Japanese, music, and mathematics.  His passion is teaching the public with his unique brand of "educational stand-up," lecturing at venues across the country on all aspects of science fact and fiction.  His award-winning site, Galacticjourney.org, is a time shifted web presence set 55 years ago, day-by-day, spotlighting sci-fi and the Space Race.



So you’re telling me I have more than a trillion epigenomes?
Yes, I am. Gene, genome, epigenome… not long ago these terms were rare to encounter outside of a laboratory. However, these terms are becoming increasingly common in our society, and our understanding of the concepts they represent can influence decisions about healthcare, lifestyle, politics, and more. Join us as we discuss recent advances in our understanding of the human genome, and how it contributes to our health and well-being on a daily basis.

Precision Medicine: Forging a Path to More Effective, Less Toxic, Personalized Treatments for Patients
Precision medicine seeks to identify the unique molecular characteristics of each patient and their disease.  The goal is to then treat the patient based on these personal and disease characteristics rather than with traditional, standard of care practices that are blanket therapies for anyone with this disease.  Advances in drug development for targeted therapies, "biomarkers” as predictive and diagnostic indicators, and the world of “omics” will be discussed in this presentation, with a few specific examples to highlight each of these. 

Understanding Adaptations to Altitude
From Mount Everest to Machu Picchu One of the most striking examples of adaptation within our species occurred in populations that migrated to high altitude in Asia and South America thousands of years ago.  Our recent studies in Tibet and Peru provide evidence for both physiological and genetic adaptations in these populations and provide further insight into the variation observed in human responses to decreased oxygen availability inherent to many disease states (sleep apnea, cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular disease). 

Healthy Brain Aging: Using Neuroimaging to Understand How to Enhance Brain Health
Brain imaging has been frequently used to understand how the brain declines with age and how it is altered due to diseases of aging.  More recently, however, research has started to focus on brain characteristics of "successful agers" and to examine how the brain responds to interventions that aim to enhance quality of life among older adults. In this presentation, the state of the science regarding healthy brain aging will be reviewed and we will explore evidence for brain-enhancing interventions.

History Through Science
You may have heard of the history of science, but what about looking at history through science? Join us to learn about some of the important scientific discoveries in the field of chemistry, accidental and on purpose, that changed the course of history. Featuring Dr. Shane Haggard, Assistant Professor of analytica chemistry at San Diego City College. 

Materials for Space Environments: What will it take to colonize other planets
The idea of living on Mars or other planets has been a staple of science fiction since the 19th century. In the event that life on Earth becomes untenable, what would it be like to actually live there? Dr. Olivia A. Graeve will discuss the living conditions and other resources that could make the Red Planet a potential destination for pioneering colonists. Featuring Dr. Olivia A. Graeve, Professor for material science and engineering at the University of California, San Diego. 

The Secret Languages of Bees
Aside from being an important pollinator of our food crops, the common domestic honey bee is also notable because of the complex and fascinating way that colony members use dances to "talk" to one another. Come join us as we explore the different dances of bees and what they mean.

Healthy Aging and Neurodegeneration. A New Perspective
Throughout life, the brain is capable of changing and adapting. This ability is called plasticity, and it’s key to develop the circuits necessary for a healthy brain. Neurodegenerative disorders (like Alzheimer’s disease or stroke) decrease plasticity, but the normal process of aging takes a toll too. Join us to discover recent research that looks into why this happens in health and disease from the perspective of a specialized cell type in the brain, called astrocytes.

DNA—The Crime Fighting and Disease Fighting Tool of the Future
Ever since the elucidation of the DNA double helix in 1953, the interest in understanding and using DNA to improve human health, increase food production, fight crime and understand our anthropological roots has been a major driver of science and technology. The ability to alter the genetic code of organisms by simple editing or major rewriting is driving efforts to solve or alleviate problems from climate change to feeding the next 2 billion earth inhabitants, mitigating pollution and toxin concentration to storing all history’s data in a simple, inexpensive format.
Join us as we discuss the beauty of this magnificent molecule and how we may be able to exploit its amazing properties to solve society’s greatest challenges.