2018 TSS Gold Medal Honoree Announced

The Tallahassee Scientific Society’s Gold Medal, established in 2004, is bestowed annually by the Society on a scientist or scholar selected from the Tallahassee community whose career achievements in science or science education and outreach are deemed exemplary.

The Society is pleased to announce that this year’s honoree is Dr. Jeff Chanton of FSU’s Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science. Jeff is a Gulf Coast Native. He received his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1985, and joined the faculty at Florida State University in the Department of Oceanography in 1989. He is a Lawton Professor, an AGU fellow, an Aldo Leopold Fellow, and has been named the Florida Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Communicator of the Year. He has authored or co-authored over 280 papers in the peer-reviewed literature and received over 65 grants and contracts to support his research. He has supervised 19 PhD dissertations, 37 Master’s theses, and 7 undergraduate honors theses. He teaches classes at the graduate and undergraduate level and is the director of the University’s Aquatic Environmental Science Graduate Program and the undergraduate Environmental Science Program.

Jeff works on a variety of research problems that involve the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide, isotopic geochemistry, permafrost thaw, oil spill carbon tracing, landfill methane emissions, and groundwater issues. He gives talks on the science of climate change to local churches, synagogues, civic groups, and government organizations, including the 2014 Florida gubernatorial candidates, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He has presented the science of Climate Change to both electric power and natural gas utility group meetings. In addition to scientific publications, he has written articles for popular magazines and newsletters, including The Florida Naturalist and Florida Wildlife.

For a complete list of the Society’s Gold Medalists – “The Tallahassee Scientific Society’s Gold Medal Winners” click here.

Gold Medal Awards & Membership Social 2018

The Society invites its members and their guests to attend a one-hour reception that features catered food and a cash bar. This will immediately precede the Honoree’s public presentation.

Jeff’s presentation for the evening of the Award Ceremony is entitled “Climate and Sea Level Rise – The Nuts and Bolts of an Inescapable Coastal Driver ”.

WHEN – Wednesday, September 26, 2018. Reception from 6:00 PM to 7 PM (EDT);
presentation from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

WHERE – Challenger Learning Center – 200 South Duval Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301

Lannutti Lecture Series

Dr. Gabriela González

Dr. Gabriela González

The 2017 Lannutti Lecture series will be held on November 30th. Mark your calendars and plan to attend one or both of the lectures.

This year’s presenter is Dr. Gabriela González, a professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University. LSU is only 30 miles away from the LIGO Livingston Observatory, where she conducts most of her research. The LIGO project, funded by the National Science Foundation, has gravitational wave detectors in two observatories, the one in Livingston and a second in Hanford, Washington.

Dr. González has been a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration since 1997, and in 2011 she was elected as its spokesperson. Her research addresses characterization of noise in and calibration of the gravitational wave detectors.

Her first lecture will be a Physics Colloquium in the FSU Department of Physics, 101 Richards Building (UPL), 1055 Atomic Way, at 3:45 PM on Thursday, 30 November 2017. Dr. González’ lecture will be, “Gravitational Waves Astronomy.”

Her second lecture, “Einstein, gravitational waves and black holes,” will be given on Thursday, 30 November 2017, at 7:30 PM at the FSU College of Medicine Auditorium, 1115 West Call Street.

Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Robots & The Wright Brothers


“Atlas”, a humanoid robot developed by researchers with the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola as part of a national competition sponsored by the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Topic of May 25 Horizons Talk


Self-driving cars, death-dealing drones, robots performing surgery, computers writing their own codes–not even George Orwell imagined a world where Big Brother could be a super-smart machine instead of a faceless, mind-robbing bureaucrat.

But such is our world today as humans face a future where robots are predicted to eventually take over countless tasks that since the dawn of man have been done strictly by flesh and bone. Whether we like it or not, The Age of Artificial Intelligence is upon us, with consequences that may be liberating, terrifying or merely annoying but surely profound.

Are recent dire predictions by such luminaries as physicist Stephen Hawking and billionaire tech guru Elon Musk just part of the “loonscape” in modern culture? Hawking has warned that artificial intelligence will overtake human intelligence within 100 years. Musk agrees and said that the rise of artificial intelligence could be more dangerous than the global proliferation of nuclear weapons. Noted Yale University ethicist Wendell Wallach has called on the U.S. government to outlaw development of military machines capable of killing people on their own volition, which some experts say is just around the corner.


Ken ford

Ken Ford is one expert on artificial intelligence who sees the rise of robots as the inevitable triumph of ingenuity in a wide range of scientific and technological fields. Instead of focusing on what some are describing as the “apocalyptic danger” of super-smart machines, Ford prefers to put the development of ultra-clever robots into the perspective of technology’s modern evolutionary history.

On Wednesday, May 25, Ford will give a talk at the IMAX Theater that compares the emergence of artificially intelligent machines to the sudden birth of aviation, an epochal innovation of the last century that–for better and for worse–transformed the entire world forever. His presentation “The Wright Brothers Revisited: Climbing Aloft on the A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) Wing” begins at 7 p.m. in the IMAX located within the Challenger Learning Center on Kleman Plaza.

Ford is the founder and CEO of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a nonprofit research group headquartered in Pensacola. The institute has grown into one of the nation’s premier research organizations aimed at amplifying and extending cognitive and perceptual capacities between humans and machines. A computer scientist by training, Ford is author of six books and hundreds of scientific articles on topics ranging from artificial intelligence to robotics in industry.

Ford has said that after decades of pundits and philosophers arguing that artificial intelligence is impossible, the argument now is that it’s not only possible but also dangerous.

“In only about a decade, the conversation has shifted from you can’t do it to we shouldn’t do it,” he said. “My purpose in this talk will not be to go into these arguments, but rather to draw attention to an interesting historical parallel between A.I. and another, older, technology which was also controversial, thought to be impossible, and then deemed to be a great danger to the human race–and that’s artificial flight.”

The talk is the final presentation in the four-month-long 2016 HORIZONS spring speaker series sponsored by the Tallahassee Scientific Society. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by visiting the Society’s website at www.TallySci.org. Cost is $8 for members and $15 for non-members.

If you go

What: Wright Brothers Revisited: Climbing Aloft on the AI Wing with Ken Ford

When: 7 p.m. May 25th. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Where: Challenger Center, Kleman Plaza

Cost: $8 for members and $15 for non-members. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by visiting the Society’s website at www.TallySci.org.

Scientist’s Talk Examines Brainy Honeybees



Just how smart are honeybees? Scientists already know they are some of the cleverest insects on earth, capable of recognizing landmarks and different colors — and even smells — for navigation.

But it turns out that bee biologists are now discovering that the buzzing little critters are far brighter than scientists ever realized. The new findings are putting honeybees’ critical roles in nature and agriculture into an intriguing new perspective, scientists say.

One of the foremost honeybee ecologists in the country, Tom Seeley of Cornell University, says that while individual bees are astonishingly clever — given the fact that their brains may be the size of a few grains of sand — they really show their stuff when they organize into swarms.

Seeley has found that when they come together, honeybees generate a new, higher intelligence. This collective, advanced IQ — so to speak — gives the bees amazing power to select the right places to build their nests and raise their young, a constant life-or-death decision in the honeybee world.

Seeley will present his latest findings, along with signing copies of his just-released fourth book, on April 28 at the IMAX Theater inside the Challenger Learning Center downtown. The presentation is the third in the annual HORIZONS spring speaker series sponsored by the Tallahassee Scientific Society, a local nonprofit group.

Swarms as small as 300 individuals generate the ability to quickly assess the suitability of various options for home-building, Seeley said. In doing that literally on the fly, bees engage in collective fact-finding, open sharing of information, vigorous debate and even fair voting, he’s found.

“With the right organization, a group of bees can overcome the cognitive limitations of their individual members and achieve a high collective IQ,” he said. “By examining natural systems that have evolved this ability, we can begin to understand how to endow human groups with collective intelligence.”

For the country’s legion of bee lovers, Seeley is best known for his books, “The Wisdom of the Hive” (Princeton, 1996) and “Honeybee Democracy” (Princeton Press, 2010). His newest book released by Princeton this spring is “Following the Wild Bees: The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting.” Seeley’s major professor at Harvard, the preeminent naturalist and ant biologist E.O. Wilson, has described the book as “a delightful foray into the pastime of bee hunting…that vividly describes the history and science behind this lost pastime and how anyone can do it.”

Seeley’s talk begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, but doors to the Challenger Center will open at 6. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by visiting the Society’s website at www.TallySci.org. Cost is $8 for members and $15 for non-members.

The 2016 HORIZONS series, which began in 2012, concludes May 25 with a presentation by Ken Ford, founder and chief executive officer for the Pensacola-based Institute for Human & Machine Cognition. A computer scientist, Ford will present “The Wright Brothers Revisited: Climbing Aloft on the AI (Artificial Intelligence) Wing.” The talk will address the rise of super-smart robots in all walks of life and what this phenomenon may mean for society.

If you go

What: Tom Seeley of Cornell University talk on IQ of honeybees

When: 7 p.m. Thursday. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Where: Challenger Center, Kleman Plaza

Cost: $8 for members and $15 for non-members. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by visiting the Society’s website at www.TallySci.org.

Article via Tallahassee Democrat