Science Cafés in the Spring Semester 2018

February 13, 2018

Why do people talk different?

Kellam Barta
Lecturer, English Department at North Dakota State University

Abstract: English speakers in the United States don't all talk the same way, and you've probably noticed this from time to time when you've traveled to the East Coast, the South, or the Pacific Northwest. You may have noticed this in neighboring states like Minnesota and South Dakota, too. You may even have noticed that people talk different right here in Fargo – employing variation in pronunciation, word choice, and grammatical structures.

If you've ever wondered why people talk different, come to this presentation at Science Cafés. We will talk about why people who speak the same language still talk different. And, more importantly, this discussion will explore why people develop attitudes - both positive and negative - about varying features of spoken English.

Attendees of this presentation, please feel free to bring your own examples of variation in English – audience participation will be encouraged.

March 6, 2018

The Growth of Artificial Intelligence and its Benefits and Pitfalls

Jeremy Straub
Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, North Dakota State University

Abstract: Artificial Intelligence is growing in use across a multitude of areas. Some have said that it, combined with robotics, will put millions out of work. Others are concerned that it may take over civilization or launch a war. For all the hype, most people don't understand what AI is or how it works. This presentation will cover the basics of AI and explain why there is no need to fear its development. It will also discuss what precautions need to be taken to ensure that the doomsday predictions don't come true.

April 10, 2018

Mud and Bugs - Understanding past environmental changes in the Prairie Potholes

Jon Sweetman
Department of Biological Sciences, North Dakota State University

Abstract: One of the big challenges faced by environmental managers and ecologists is understanding how ecosystems have changed over time. Often there is a lack of long-term monitoring data, and it is difficult to determine how the environment might respond to ecological changes. I will talk about paleolimnology, a science used to reconstruct past changes using lake mud. Within the Prairie Pothole Region, there are millions of small ponds that dot the landscape, which can provide important information on both human impacts to the region, and understanding natural variability. In this presentation, I'll talk about how we use mud to understand the past, and summarizes a few recent examples that have looked at past changes in the prairies - from understanding past floods and droughts, to examining the potential impacts of agriculture on aquatic habitats.