September 8, 2017: The History of the Future – Steampunk, Spacesuits, and Beyond

What are the real life historical origins of steampunk? Why does the science fiction of the Victorian age appeal to us, and what are its roots in the actual discoveries and scientists of that time? How did thinkers in the past view the future and how are today’s thinkers envisioning the future?

Join us for the Empiricist League’s twentieth gathering, featuring presentations about the science of steampunk, past visions of urban futures, and designing outerwear for outer space.

Doors at 7pm. First speaker starts at 7:30pm.

RSVP here.


CLOCKWORK FUTURES: The Science of Steampunk 
Brandy Schillace, PhD, is a historian, author, and Senior Research Associate for the Dittrick Museum of Medical History (Case Western Reserve University). Brandy’s recent books include DEATH’S SUMMER COAT, exploring cultural approaches to death and dying (2015), and CLOCKWORK FUTURES, a social history of technology and the “steampunk” aesthetics of invention (September 2017). In all her endeavors, Brandy seeks to uncover the human stories at the center of science and medicine, proving truth is frequently stranger than fiction. Brandy will speak to the Empiricist League about her new book and the science of steampunk.

CITIES OF FUTURES PAST: Strange historical visions of the urban future
Wythe Marschall is an anthropologist of technology finishing his PhD in the History of Science Department at Harvard. He writes and teaches about future visions of biotechnology, farming, and cities. Currently, Wythe is researching how agricultural tech startups are trying to disrupt the food economy and change how we think about plants and buildings. Previously, Wythe taught at Harvard and in the English Department at Brooklyn College. He’s also curated art-and-science exhibitions and events about designing living things. Wythe will speak to the Empiricist League about how futurists have imagined utopian cities on Mars, covering the entire planet, and right here in the Five Boroughs.

THE FINAL FRONTIER OF DESIGN: Working with NASA to design the next generation of spacesuit gloves
Ted Southern is a sculptor, costume maker, and inventor from Brooklyn, New York. For the last 4 years, Ted has been developing a new generation of space suit gloves, in coordination with Nikolay Moiseev, a Russian spacesuit fabricator. In November 2009, Ted and Nik outperformed NASA’s current Phase VI spacesuit gloves, and won second place in NASA’s Astronaut Glove Challenge. Prior to space, Ted’s work focused on technical garments for movies, theatre, and television including wings for Victoria’s Secret and costumes for Cirque du Soleil. Ted will speak to the Empiricist League about his work designing garments for use in outer space.

March 22, 2017: CRISPR: The Emerging Future of Gene Editing

What makes CRISPR—Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats—such a buzzworthy technology? How could this gene editing technology be used? Designer babies? Driving mosquitos to extinction? Curing disease? Who will actually get to use CRISPR?

Join us for the Empiricist League’s nineteenth gathering, featuring presentations about the revolutionary gene editing technology CRISPR. Hear perspectives from the DIY, creative, and startup communities.

Doors at 7pm. First speaker starts at 7:30pm.

RSVP here.

Ellen Jorgensen, PhD
CRISPR 101: “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats” Made Easy
As co-founder of Genspace, Brooklyn’s Community Biotech Lab, Ellen has developed a haven for entrepreneurship, innovation and citizen science. Her efforts have been widely chronicled, including in Science, Wired, and The New York Times, and her TED Talks (on CRISPR and BioHacking) have received millions of views. In 2014 Fast Company named Genspace one of the World’s Top 10 Innovative Companies in Education, and in 2016 ​they named Ellen as one of the top Creative Leaders in Business. ​Genspace ​has received major funding from the Simons Foundation, the Pinkerton Foundation, and the Richard Lounsbery Foundation. Dr. Jorgensen will give to the Empiricist League a download on the basics of CRISPR.

Adam Bolt
Science and Society: Documenting the Evolution of Gene Editing
Adam Bolt is filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. He was the editor and co-writer of Inside Job (2011), which won an Academy Award winner for Best Documentary; He was editor, writer, and senior producer of Showtime’s Emmy-award-winning documentary series Years of Living Dangerously; editor and co-producer of the The Recruiter (HBO), which won a Columbia duPont award for excellence in broadcast journalism in 2010. Adam will speak to the Empiricist League about what inspired him to direct his upcoming feature length film about CRISPR.

Sarah Richardson, PhD
The Germ Wrangler: The Future of CRISPR and Gene Editing
Sarah Richardson, aka “The Germ Wrangler”, has a BS in biology from the University of Maryland and a PhD in human genetics and molecular biology from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 2015 she was awarded a L’Oréal Women in Science postdoctoral fellowship to pursue her work on cryptic CRISPR systems. As chief scientist of Ignition Genomics she is dedicated to the development of clever genetic tools for overlooked or underexploited bacteria. This past October, Richardson’s  SXSW Eco Keynote, The Planet is a Cookbook: Genetic Engineering Recipes for the Future was lauded as one of the best moments of SXSW Eco. Dr. Richardson will speak to the Empiricist League about what’s on the horizon for gene editing.

May 6th, 2015: Food

Will eating insects one day replace eating McDonald’s? Are GMO’s the last, best hope for saving mankind? Should we grow meat in a lab instead of on a factory farm? Join us for the Empiricist League’s fifteenth gathering, covering the many ways that new discoveries will change how we eat. Taking place at Union Hall (702 Union St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn) on May 6th.

Doors at 7:30pm. First speaker starts at 8pm.

Buy your ticket here.

Eating Insects: An argument for self-sustenance and a bug-centric cuisine
Ashley Marie Quinn is a designer and activist interested in the cross-section between art, science and technology. Through her work she bridges the gap between environmental awareness, human action, and behavior change by creating novel experiences and design interventions. Ms. Quinn will speak to the Empiricist League about the history of entomophagy, better known as the practice of eating insects, it’s current state, and how to take it to the next level.

GMOs to the Rescue: Could golden rice, arctic apples, and other genetically modified organisms save the world?
Drake P. Bennett is a staff writer at Bloomberg Businessweek. He has written on topics ranging from robotics to anarchist activism to soccer match-fixing to the airline industry. Previously, he was the staff writer for the Boston Globe Ideas section. His freelance work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Wired and Slate. Mr. Bennett will speak to the Empiricist League about the promise of genetically modified organisms, and why they inspire such controversy.

The Vegan Cheeseburger: Why lab-grown meat can (and should) be the future of protein
Isha Datar is the Executive Director of New Harvest, a non-profit research organization working to develop animal products made without animals and instead in cell culture. She has a BSc. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Alberta and a M.Biotech from the University of Toronto. In 2012, she spoke at TEDxToronto about cultured meat and eating sustainably through changing one’s meat intake. Ms. Datar will speak to the Empiricist League about the technology and potential of cultured animal products.

February 4th, 2015: Free Will

Are we really in control of our own decisions? Do we have a “self” that actively makes choices, or do unseen processes within the brain make our decisions for us? Join a neuroscientist, a biologist/comedian, and a philosopher at the Empiricist League’s fourteenth gathering, covering the many ways that scientific discoveries are undermining one of our most cherished beliefs. Taking place at Union Hall (702 Union St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn) on February 4th.

Doors at 7:30pm. First speaker starts at 8pm.

$8 in advance, $10 day of show.

RSVP here.

Genetic Predestination: How Our Genes Are Ruining Our Lives
Raj Sivaraman is a writer, comedian, and Ph.D. scientist. He is one of the co-hosts of the Universe City podcast, which breaks down scientific papers for mainstream audiences, and has performed in several festivals all over the country and presented his research at as many international scientific conferences. Dr. Sivaraman will speak to the Empiricist League about how our genes constrain our ability to have “free will”.

The Automaton Within: Determinism and the Philosophy of Free Will
Dr. Justin Garson is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy department at Hunter College. He specializes in the Philosophy of Biology, with an emphasis on the intersection between biology and mind. Dr. Garson is the author of “The Biological Mind: A Philosophical Introduction” in which he outlines a philosophical perspective on morality and altruism, and how it unfolds in evolution. He will speak to the Empiricist League about the philosophical roots of the concept of free will.

You Are Your Brain: What Neuroscience Says About Who’s In Charge
Dr. Heather Berlin is a cognitive neuroscientist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She explores interactions of the human brain and mind with the goal of contributing to improved treatment and prevention of impulsive and compulsive psychiatric disorders. Dr. Berlin is a presenter on the Discovery Channel series Superhuman Showdown and has made numerous media appearances including the History Channel, BBC World Service, World Science Festival, StarTalk Radio, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and TEDx. Dr. Berlin will speak to the Empiricist League about recent research in neuroscience and their implications for our understanding of free will.

November 25th, 2014: Apocalypse

What’s it like to visit Chernobyl? What’s the best way to fight an Ebola outbreak? What is the FBI doing to keep the most dangerous biological threats in check? Join an FBI agent, the creator of “pollution tourism”, and a science & health journalist at the Empiricist League’s thirteenth gathering, covering some of the many ways that humanity might be extinguished. Taking place at Union Hall (702 Union St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn) on November 25th.

Doors at 7:30pm. First speaker starts at 8pm.

$8 in advance, $10 day of show.

RSVP here.

Patient Zero: “Plantibodies” and the New Frontier in the Fight Against Ebola
Joshua A. Krisch is a NYC-based journalist, specializing in science, health and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Motherboard (VICE), Scientific American, The Atlantic, Popular Mechanics and Esquire. In the past, he has written about bottles lost at sea and space blimps that fly into the stratosphere. He will speak to the Empiricist League about the cutting edge measures that scientists are taking to fight the next Ebola outbreak.

Visit Sunny Chernobyl: Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places
Andrew Blackwell is a journalist and filmmaker living in New York City. His acclaimed book Visit Sunny Chernobyl is a love letter to the Earth’s most degraded and despoiled nooks and crannies, and an impassioned argument for a new kind of environmentalism. Mr. Blackwell will speak to the Empiricist League about the end of Nature, the art of pollution tourism, and reasons to be optimistic about the apocalypse.

Achieving Biosecurity: An FBI Special Agent Tells You How
Special Agent Sara Wood is an Assistant Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Coordinator assigned to the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). SA Wood has a B.S. from Yale University and a M.A. from the University of Connecticut. Her investigative responsibilities include counterterrorism investigations involving weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation networks. SA Wood will talk to the Empiricist League about threats to biosecurity, how the FBI is tackling them, and how the science community can help.

September 23rd, 2014: Creativity

Where does creativity come from? What makes someone an expert? How can we increase our ability to generate innovative ideas?  Join us for  a round panel discussion with three of the world’s foremost scientific experts on genius, expertise, and creativity at the Empiricist League’s twelfth gathering, taking place at Union Hall (702 Union St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn) on September 23rd.

Doors at 7:30pm. First speaker starts at 8pm.

$8 in advance, $10 day of show.

RSVP here.

Inside the Minds of Icons: Historic Geniuses and the Psychopathology That Made Them

Gail Saltz, MD is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, columnist, bestselling author, and television commentator. She is a contributing editor for Health magazine and hosts two series at the famed 92nd Street Y. She has appeared repeatedly on national television programs including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, and Dateline and is frequently featured in the national press. She is currently writing a book on genius and psychopathology.

The Role of Inspiration and Passion for Creative Achievement

Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD is a psychologist, author, and popular science writer known for his research and writing on intelligence and creativity.  He is Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute and a researcher in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also co-founder of The Creativity Post and author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined.

Deliberate Practice: Is That All it Takes to Become an Expert? 

D. Zachary Hambrick, PhD, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University, has has argued that there are limits on the effects of training for expertise and creativity, and that genetic factors also play a role. He published an opinion piece in the New York Times, “Sorry Strivers, Talent Matters”. Dr. Hambrick also does extensive work on the merits of brain training, which he shared with the Empiricist League earlier this year.

Moderator:
Polly Palumbo, PhD is a child research consultant, psychologist, and child health advocate seeking more nuance and accuracy in science reporting. She is the founder Momma Data, a blog devoted to debunking parenting advice and children’s health news.

August 19th, 2014: Love

Does marriage help or hinder love? Are men and women really all that different from each other? What does the behavior of online daters tell us about the desires of modern singles? Join a co-founder of OKCupid and experts from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology at the Empiricist League’s eleventh gathering, taking place at Union Hall (702 Union St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn).

Doors at 7:30pm. First speaker starts at 8pm.

$8 in advance, $10 day of show.

RSVP here.


Sex on the Brain: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About Love, Lust, and Marriage
Dr. Bianca Acevedo holds a B.A. in Psychology from New York University and a PhD in Social/Health Psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is a research scientist at the NYC Departmentt of Health & Mental Hygiene in New York City and teaches courses in Interpersonal Relationships and Research Methods. She has published several widely-recognized articles on the science of love which have appeared in media outlets around the globe and which she has presented both nationally and internationally. Dr. Acevedo will speak to the Empiricist League about what the latest findings in neuroscience have to say about finding lasting love.

Mating Intelligence: Evolutionary Psychology’s Advice for the Lovelorn
Dr. Glenn Geher is Professor and Chair of Psychology as well as Director of Evolutionary Studies at SUNY New Paltz. Glenn has edited or authored numerous publications, including the book Evolutionary Psychology 101, as well as the blogs Building Darwin’s Bridge and Darwin’s Subterranean World for Psychology Today. He worked to launch the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society (NEEPS) in 2007 and is the lead guitar player for the Hudson Valley’s only all-professor punk rock band: Questionable Authorities. Dr. Geher will speak to the Empiricist League about how evolutionary pressures have shaped our approach to mating.

OKTrends: The Math of Online Dating
Christian Rudder is one of the founders of OKCupid and the author of OKTrends, a blog featuring observations and statistics from hundreds of millions of OkCupid user interactions, all to explore the data side of the online dating. His upcoming book,Dataclysm, explains how data scientists are quantifying the formerly unquantifiable and showing with unprecedented precision how we fight, how we age, how we love, and how we change. Mr. Rudder will talk to the Empiricist League about what this new explosion of data can teach us about the search for romance.

April 29th, 2014: Evolving Evolution

Can evolution make music better? Does Darwin need to be modernized?  What does the latest research on zombie-creating parasitic wasps teach us about what makes us human? The Empiricist League’s tenth gathering will take place on Tuesday, April 29th at Over the Eight (594 Union Ave., in Williamsburg, Brooklyn). First speaker starts at 8:30pm.  Please RSVP here.  Admission is FREE!

Evolution & The Creative Frontier
Maryam Zaringhalam is a Ph.D. Candidate at the F.N. Papavasiliou Laboratory of Lymphocyte Biology at Rockefeller University as well as the founder of ArtLab, “an ongoing experiment at the interface of art + science”. Maryam will show the Empiricist League how evolutionary principles are being applied to creative fields in order to create new experiences in music and art.
The Modern Darwin
Daniel Duzdevich is a Ph.D. candidate in the laboratory of Professor Eric Greene at Columbia University. He studies biological molecules that function as tiny machines on strands of DNA. His interest in the relationship between science and language motivated him to pen “Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Modern Rendition”. Daniel will speak to the Empiricist League about the importance of language in science, and how Darwin struggled to describe groundbreaking ideas that lacked an existing vocabulary
The Bugs Within
Anastasia Liapis, PhD is a scientific advisor who specializes in immunology, oncology, genetics, and cardiovascular disease. Anastasia is making her second appearance at the Empiricist League. Having dazzled us with the renegade power of our immune system’s Killer T-cells, Anastasia will speak on how microbiomes are the back-seat drivers of evolution. She’ll also share new research on how our modern lives affect our microbiome.

January 14th, 2014: The Science of Morality

Ethical robots! Altruistic cavemen! Shameless cheaters! The Empiricist League’s eighth gathering will take place on Tuesday, January 14th at Over the Eight (594 Union Ave., in Williamsburg, Brooklyn). Doors at 6:45pm, first speaker starts at 7:30pm.  Please RSVP at Facebook.  Admission is FREE!

Nice Guys Finish Last? The Evolutionary Basis for Morality and Altruism

Dr. Justin Garson is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy department at Hunter College. He specializes in the Philosophy of Biology, with an emphasis on the intersection between biology and mind. Dr. Garson is excited to be sharing a portion of material from his upcoming book, “The Biological Mind: A Philosophical Introduction”” (Routledge, September 2014), in which he outlines a philosophical perspective on morality and altruism, and how it unfolds in evolution.

The Ethical Robot: Passing the Turing Test

Simon Pearce is a lifelong AI geek, who holds degrees in Philosophy, Psychology, Industrial Design and Manufacturing from Cambridge and Bristol Universities. He’s the founder of Fabric Branding, a brand strategy and design agency based in New York City. Mr. Pearce will discuss whether the sentient machines of our near future will resemble Asimov’s moral robots, whose existence is defined around service to their creators, or if robot self-awareness will lead inexorably to the pop culture nightmare of a robot uprising.

Calibrating the Moral Compass: The Psychology of Cheating

Dr. Maria Konnikova is a Russian-born American writer and journalist. She is the author of the New York Times best-seller “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.” Her writing has appeared online and in print in numerous publications, including The New York Times, WIRED, Scientific American and recently The New Yorker, where she shared a view Inside the Cheater’s Mind. Dr. Konnikova will be speaking to us about how we justify cheating, and why we are prompted to cheat.

“Five Billion Years of Solitude” Giveaway

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 11.17.05 PMSome of you may have seen science writer Lee Billings speak at the Empiricist League earlier this year on the ongoing search for Earth-like planets. Well he has just released his new book on the topic, Five Billion Years of Solitude, and we are pleased to announce that the Empiricist League will be giving away three copies of the book on Twitter over the next few weeks.  Here’s how to win:

  • In 140 characters or less, tweet your answer to the appropriate question below.
  • Be sure to tweet your response to the Empiricist League by including @EmpLeague in the body of the tweet.
  • Also include the hashtag #alienlife in the body of the tweet.

Question #1 (10/3-10/9): What will be the best thing about finding intelligent life beyond Earth?

Question #2 (10/10-10/14): What will be the worst thing about finding intelligent life beyond Earth?

Question #3 (10/15-10/18): What question would you ask an alien?

After each question’s time period is complete we will select the most interesting and creative tweet to get a free copy of the book.  Have fun, and feel free to follow the Empiricist League on Twitter (@EmpLeague) or Facebook.  Or just sign up for our mailing list by entering your email address on the right-hand column of the home page.