Podcasts

City College

Olympian Power to the People

September 6, 2011 | City College, Newsmakers

Like Zeus, the supreme god of the Olympians in Greek mythology, people will some day be able to control their own destiny, according to theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku. “Zeus could simply think about things and have them come to be; we will have that power,” says Kaku, co-founder of the strong field theory and physics professor at City College. In an interview at his office, Kaku discussed his latest book, “Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100,” and predicts a future where humans will be able to communicate with computers mentally and have access to the Internet via contact lenses.
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When Water Turned Great for Bagels and More

August 22, 2011 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series

New York has long prided itself on the quality of its drinking water but there was a time — before the Croton Reservoir was completed in 1842 — when it was undrinkable. “The water was known for being notoriously bad then — even the horses didn’t want to drink it,” says Kevin Bone, in his lecture, “The Secret Life of New York City Water.” As part of City College’s School of Architecture Sciame Lecture Series, Bone, professor of architecture at Cooper Union, explained the impact that the Old Croton Aqueduct, which supplied the city with a clean and adequate water supply until it was replaced with a newer one in 1890, had on the city’s development in the post-Industrial Revolution era.
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Elegant, Artistic Urbanity — the Woolworth Building

July 15, 2011 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series

When completed in 1913, Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Building was the world’s tallest skyscraper and the jewel of Manhattan, but today its majestic crown is barely visible behind a maze of glass and steel towers. “I wonder whether, indeed, the new skyline taking shape before us will possess the same magic, elegance, artistry and glamour — the same urbanity — as the old,” says Gail Fenske, professor of architecture at Roger Williams University and author of “The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York.” Upstaged by more famous neighbors like the World Trade Center, and new structures like Frank Gehry’s Beekman Tower, the Woolworth building and the era it represents may be at risk of being forgotten, says Prof. Fenske in the City College lecture series, “New York, New York: Place, Culture And Urbanity,” sponsored by the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture.
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Finding Your Own Life’s Story

May 17, 2011 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series, Hunter College

“Memoir is the most radical act anyone can undertake because you are refusing to be silent,” says Louise DeSalvo, author of the critically acclaimed 2002 work, “Vertigo,” a candid account of growing up in a dysfunctional, Italian-American immigrant family in Hoboken after World War II. In a City College Center for Worker Education Book Lecture Series talk, “Finding Our Life’s Story,” DeSalvo, who teaches memoir in Hunter College’s MFA Creative Writing program as the Jenny Hunter Endowed Scholar, encouraged her audience to write their own memoirs, “It’s not about what happened,” DeSalvo says, “it’s about what we remember and how we remember it.”
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‘The Colonel’ Was Writing to Unger

April 28, 2011 | Book Beat, City College, CUNY Lecture Series

Many artists have a source of inspiration that forever holds a place in their heart, and for Guatemalan-born David Unger it is Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his book, “No One Writes to the Colonel.” “That book forged my identity as a Latin American native and writer,” says Unger, who, through a shared language and culture, felt a kinship with Marquez. Today, Unger, who teaches translation at City College’s MFA program, is the author of four books, including his latest novel, “The Prince of Escape.” As part of the City College Center for Worker Education Book Talk Lecture Series: Writers on Writing, Unger reads from his work and talks about his brief encounter with Marquez as a graduate student at Columbia University.
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Fukushima and the One Hundred Year Storm

April 27, 2011 | City College, Newsmakers

Japan’s devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami were unavoidable forces of nature, but the nuclear meltdown that resulted was man made, according to Michio Kaku. “If you take a look at Fukushima, there have been previous tsunamis that have hit the exact same area,” says Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at City College, referring to the area about 140 miles north of Tokyo where the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station was built. In an interview, Kaku pointed out that engineers tend to study incidents that take place in their own lifespan, not long term. “When it comes to nuclear power, we have to look at the 100-year storm.”
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Is It Superman? No, It’s 2100

April 11, 2011 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series

By the end of the century, Michio Kaku sees a world in which humans will have x-ray vision, and micromachines — smaller than the period at the end of this sentence — will perform surgery. “Your computerized toilet will be able to analyze proteins emitted from a colony of cancer cells from excretions,” says Kaku, co-founder of string field theory and professor of physics at City College. Kaku’s latest book, “Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100,” predicts a future in which nearly everything we touch, including our eyeglasses, will be connected to the Internet. “You’ll blink and you’ll go online — it’s coming faster than you think.”
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New York in Turmoil: The Draft Riots

March 31, 2011 | Book Beat, City College, CUNY Lecture Series

The draft riots in New York City, which took place during the summer of 1863, remain to this day the worst civil disturbance in American history. In his 2002 book, “Paradise Alley,” Kevin Baker used the chaotic event as a backdrop for the critically acclaimed historical novel. “This really was more of a revolution than a riot, as one observer noted, it was a pitched battle.” At a Book Talk Lecture Series: Writers on Writing, sponsored by City College’s Center for Worker Education, Baker describes the mob of mostly poor, Irish Catholics, as overcome with anger at the Protestants who had exploited them and with resentment toward African Americans for being forced to fight for their freedom by the newly enforced Civil War draft. What happened during the riots was horrific, says Baker, including “killing, raping and looting.”

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Birds, Dolphins and Mimicry

December 28, 2010 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series, Hunter College

The ability to learn and mimic vocal sounds is rare in nature but found in certain birds and in dolphins says Diana Reiss, professor of psychology at Hunter College. “There’s been a lot of anecdotal reporting over the years that dolphins are highly mimetic,” says Reiss, an expert on dolphin cognition. City College associate professor of biology, Ofer Tchernichovski, who studies brains and vocal learning in birds, says birds, which are capable of vocal learning, even “dedicate” part of their brain to produce and learn bird songs. In a lecture, “Bird Culture and Dolphin Intelligence: How we learn from animal behavior,” part of the Serving Science Cafe Series, Reiss and Tchernichovski discuss their own research, and their collaborative study at the Baltimore National Aquarium to decode dolphin vocalization.
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Rivers at Risk

December 1, 2010 | City College, Newsmakers

Nearly 80 percent of the world’s rivers are so adversely affected by humanity’s footprint that the drinking water of 5 billion people and the survival of thousands of aquatic species are threatened, according to a report in the September issue of Nature. “We’ve repaired problems after they arise,” says Charles Vörsömarty, a professor of civil engineering and director of CUNY’s Environmental Crossroads Initiative at City College and the lead author of the study entitled, “Global Threats to Human Water Security and River Biodiversity.” Vörsömarty insists that there should be a more proactive approach and a global sharing of information and tools. We should be “protecting ecosystems and allowing ecosystems to do the very good job that they naturally do in providing stable and clean water supplies.”
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