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Preview/Review (Dec. 7 to Dec. 20)

A review and previews of some fun and informative U events and lectures occurring through Dec. 20

Compiled by Adam Overland

Google Visit: Eric Schmidt - 300x225
Google chairman Eric Schmidt.

December 6, 2011


Google chairman Eric Schmidt discusses the future of the high-tech economy
For a man poised to talk about the wonders and transformational power of technology, Eric Schmidt showed he has a good curveball to keep an audience off balance.

"Can I ask a question first? When did we lose control of our lives?" said the Google chairman to the crowd of about 250 techies and assorted guests at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. "When did it get to the point where you had to turn on your mobile device as you woke up and you had to check your email as you went to sleep? Now, come on. Is there anybody in the room who does not have this problem?

"This is the new addiction…Don't you remember the time when you could actually have some peace of mind? When people weren't constantly texting you…and you lived in the quietude of non-knowledge?"

That snapshot of American life, circa 2011, drew hearty laughter; and then Schmidt proceeded with his talk—which took the form of a Q&A session with Steve Kelley, director of the U's Center for Science, Technology, and Public Policy—on the future of the high-tech economy.

Schmidt's visit to campus wasn't completely random. The University of Minnesota is one of the first and leading adopters of Google applications in higher education, and there are currently nearly 90,000 U of M Google email account users.

He pointed out that the type of innovation that Google prizes is already inherent at the U.

"How does the University maintain innovation? Frankly, it's because of the students and the graduate students," Schmidt said. "Google exists because of the research universities of America, and we source these remarkably brilliant young men and women that you all produce. It's the proudest thing, I think, that we do in America."

To read more about Schmidt's talk, including questions about access to technology and the role of technology in democracies, read the full story "Visit by Google chairman a plus for U."

To hear Schmidt's entire talk, including his thoughts and opinions on cloud computing, control and security, and the ethics of pushing out new technology, visit livestream and click on "The future of the high-tech economy."

--Review by Rick Moore


Previews are the editor's choice, selected for variety, uniqueness, oddness, impact, and whimsy. Submit your events to Events that feature U faculty and staff are preferred. Unless otherwise noted, all events are free.

The Word Made Flesh. Nov. 28–Feb. 24. Anderson Gallery, Wilson Library. To celebrate the 400th Word made flesh exhibit 165anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, the Wilson Library exhibit will feature examples of biblical texts, including medieval manuscripts and facsimiles. Highlights will include two leaves from the 42-line Gutenberg Bible (the first major book printed with a movable type printing press); the original New Testament portion of the King James Bible; other early printings such as the Geneva Bible and the "Breeches" Bible; and related works stemming out of the Reformation, such as publications, broadsides, and pamphlets from Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, and others.

CSE Winter Light Show Kickoff and 5K Run. Dec. 9, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., (kickoff event) Civil Engineering plaza. Although the show will run multiple days after Dec. 9 (Dec. 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 22 and 23), the Dec. 9 opening is sure to be a grand affair. Join the College of Science and Engineering for this annual dazzling light show designed by students. The entire Civil Engineering Building Plaza will be covered in lights for an immersive 3D outdoor experience set to music. Two shows per evening, lasting about 20 minutes.

Preceding the CSE Winter Light Show kickoff on Dec. 9, the Science and Engineering Student Board (SESB) is hosting a "Freezin' for a Reason" 5K Run. Proceeds will be donated to charity.

Reading the Tea Leaves: The Rise of Political Parties. Dec. 10, 9–11 a.m. Continuing Education and Conference Center, St. Paul. Cost: $50. Throughout most of its history, American politics has been dominated by a two-party system. But from time to time, third parties rally popular support among voters disenfranchised by the partisan positions of mainstream Democrats and Republicans. Recently, polarization between the two major parties has increased, creating conflict and, at times, gridlock. While claiming not to aspire to third party status, the Tea Party has emerged as a new force in American politics, heavily influencing Republican Party politics, and is fully expected to continue to command attention during the 2012 presidential election. Join associate professor of political science Kathryn Pearson in a guided discussion of the history, evolution, and current state of American political parties. Prior to joining the U, Pearson served as a research fellow at the Brookings Institution and worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant for two members of Congress. Tuition includes refreshments. Offered by the College of Continuing Education's LearningLife program.

Robot Show. Dec. 12, 2:30–4:30 p.m., McNamara Alumni Center. For six weeks, 240 college students in Robot Fairthe Department of Mechanical Engineering's introductory design course design and build their own robots. Their task is to create a machine that "does something interesting." You can discover just how interesting (hint: very!) at this year's Robot Show. It is the largest collection of robots assembled in one place in the Twin Cities and is fun for kids of all ages. The show is free and open to the public, and because it is run like an open house, visitors can come for any or all of it.

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) in concert. Dec. 18, 2-4 p.m., Ted Mann Concert Hall. Tickets: $40, $25, and $10. Following his December performances of Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto, Christian Zacharias is soloist again in a rarely-heard gem of the Classical period: Carl Maria von Weber's Konzertstück, a work ingeniously complemented by Stravinsky's neoclassical Danses concertantes. A pair of symphonies by the father of the Classical style, Joseph Haydn, bookend the works by Weber and Stravinsky: Symphony no. 42, receiving its first SPCO performance, and the sonically inventive Military Symphony.

Jim Brandenburg's "Chased By The Light" photo exhibit. Opening Dec. 10, through May 13. Bell small chased by the lightMuseum. "Chased By the Light: Jim Brandenburg's 90-Day Photo Journey" comes back to the U's Bell Museum of Natural History for a new showing that opens Dec. 10. It's the first time in 13 years the popular exhibit will be available to area residents.

Brandenburg began his photo journey with a simple plan: "In autumn I set out to make one photograph—one single exposure—each day for 90 days. I hoped with patience and endurance to renew my vision of the natural world."

After 90 days, what emerged from the deep woods in and around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was a changed photographer with three rolls of film. Each roll was filled with images— such as a raven feather in the rain, a tree marked by a bear, or a vibrant view of an aurora borealis—that represented Brandenburg's feelings about the essence of wild places.

In today's era of quick communication, mind-boggling amounts of media, and digital cameras providing a nearly endless supply of photos to alter, "Chased By the Light" is more relevant than ever.

Life on Earth: The Origin of Elements. Dec. 20, 7 p.m., Bryant Lake Bowl, Minneapolis. Cost: $5-$12 (pay what you can) Tickets available at the door and online. Call 612-825-8949 for reservations.

The only elements made in the Big Bang were hydrogen and helium—the building blocks essential for life were nowhere to be seen. So, where did the carbon in our bodies come from? Terry Jones, U professor of astronomy, will explain how elements like oxygen and iron were made, and how they came to be incorporated into our home planet, making life on Earth possible.

Jones is an infrared astronomer who specializes in measuring the polarization of light to reveal the structure of dust in comets and the magnetic field geometry in galaxies, and to pinpoint the locations of hidden stars. He has been teaching astronomy at the U Institute for Astrophysics since 1982, and has received both the IT Outstanding Instructor award and the Morse Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education.

Find more Twin Cities events using the U's events calendar.

University events and lectures preview/review is a periodic column (about every two weeks) highlighting events and lectures recently past and soon-to-come on or near the UMTC campus. Faculty and staff are invited to contribute. Reviews should be no more than 500 words, previews 200 or fewer. Both are subject to review by the Brief editor.