Inside Science - Smithsonian Associates Science Literacy
Lectures & Seminars
Animals on the Move: Following Digital Footprints

Understanding the forces that set nature in motion is vital as efforts to maintain global diversity, map conservations hotspots, manage human-wildlife conflict, and even monitor the spread of pandemic disease continue to face challenges. Learn about the growing array of technologies, from drones to satellite tracking, that are behind a revolution in animal tracking today.

Date
Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Why, Oh Why, Do We Love Paris?: The Timeless Charm of the City of Light

What accounts for the timeless charm of the City of Light? It’s hard to identify the je ne sais quoi that gives Paris its powerful appeal. In an entertaining day-long armchair tour gain insights into the great city on the Seine. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, September 23, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Myth of the Lost Cause: How Civil War History Was Rewritten

The Southern-created Myth of the Lost Cause has shadowed the historical remembrance of the Civil War, the country's watershed event. Historian Ed Bonekemper critically examines the accuracy of that myth and how it has affected perceptions of slavery, states' rights, and the nature of the conflict itself.

Date
Saturday, September 23, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Moscow’s Haunted House of Government

In conversation with Peter Baker, White House correspondent for the New York Times and former Moscow bureau chief for the Washington Post, historian Yuri Slezkine discusses the lives of the Bolshevik true believers who lived in the House of Government, from their conversion to Communism to their children’s loss of political faith and the fall of the Soviet Union.

Date
Sunday, September 24, 2017 - 10:00 a.m.
War of 1812: Out of History’s Shadows

The War of 1812’s significance to the course of American history has long been overshadowed by the conflicts that bookend it: the American Revolution and the Civil War. Historian Richard Bell explains why the War of 1812 was, in fact, nothing short of a watershed event in the young republic’s life.

Date
Monday, September 25, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Fred Astaire: Dancing with Genius

Film scholar and writer Christine Bamberger uses film clip montages, rare photographs, and original recordings to create a fuller portrait of the immortal Fred Astaire, challenging clichés that have grown up around him and exploring his work as an actor and vocalist, as well as a man who revolutionized dance on film.

Date
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
American Women in Politics: Did Suffrage Matter?

Nearly a century after the 19th Amendment was ratified, it is worth asking whether having the women’s vote has made a significant difference in American politics. Historian Elisabeth Griffith, a biographer of suffrage pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, reviews women’s political engagement from marching for the vote to campaigning for (or against) a woman for president.

Date
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
T.S. Eliot: Daring To Disturb the Universe

September is a time to celebrate the birth of perhaps the greatest 20th-century poet, Thomas Stearns Eliot. To pay tribute to the author of The Wasteland and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, author Daniel Stashower explores Eliot’s life and legacy, and actor Scott Sedar offers dramatic readings of his works. Afterward, we will raise a toast and perhaps even “dare to eat a peach.”

Date
Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Tasting Spain: A Journey Into Cuisine, Culture, and Heritage

Learn about the cultural heritage of Spain in a lively program set in the turn-of-the-century Beaux-Arts mansion that once served as the residence of the ambassadors of Spain. With tasting of Spanish regional foods and wines.

Date
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Armistead Maupin: Tales of a Lifetime

Armistead Maupin, the groundbreaking author of the bestselling Tales of the City series, draws on his new book, Logical Family: a Memoir, as he traces his odyssey from the old South to freewheeling San Francisco. Hear him spin tales of the extraordinary individuals and situations that shaped him into one of the most influential writers of the last century.

Date
Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Sputnik Years

When a Russian rocket lofted Sputnik 1 into orbit on October 4, 1957, the Space Age—and the Space Race—had begun. Explore the events leading up to Sputnik's launch, the political fallout that led to America's response (Explorer 1), the formation of NASA, and the role that everyday citizens played in tracking the first satellites.

Date
Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
What Dinosaurs Tell Us

What can long-dead animals teach us? Plenty, according to paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara—including helping us to understand the planet’s geological origins, the nature of deep time, the meaning of fossils, and our own place on Earth.

Date
Thursday, October 5, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
A Sweet Afternoon with Yotam Ottolenghi

London-based chef and restauranteur Yotam Ottolenghi and pastry chef Helen Goh share the secrets for making the delicious baked goods, desserts, and confections collected in their new cookbook, Sweet.

Date
Monday, October 9, 2017 - 2:00 p.m.
Sally Quinn: On Life, Love and Spirituality

Celebrated journalist Sally Quinn's life is also the story of modern Washington during some of its most turbulent years. This evening, Quinn sits down for a wide-ranging interview with Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and journalist and author Elsa Walsh.

Date
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
De-extinction: Genomic Engineering of Mammoth Proportions

Geneticist George Church, one of the founders of the Human Genome Project, discusses how research into DNA sequencing might hold the key to bringing back the woolly mammoth. Author Ben Mezrich, who has chronicled the project in a book, and Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic magazine, are part of the conversation.

Date
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
In the Indian Kitchen

Join food writer Monica Bhide on a deliciously informative tour of India’s more than 35 regional cuisines. Savor the secrets of curry and the karma of Ayurvedic cooking, among other tasty topics. A buffet reception ends the evening.

Date
Thursday, October 12, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Matisse and Picasso: Artistic Rivalry and Mutual Inspiration

In this richly illustrated daylong program, explore the important works made by both of these seminal artists, and how their mutual influence, respect, and rivalry served to make each other’s work richer. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, October 14, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Make the Most of Your Memory: The Science and Strategies You Need To Remember

Memory is critical to every insight and idea we will ever have. And the better memory is, the better the mind functions. Peter Vishton, associate professor in the department of psychology at William and Mary, shares the science of how human memory functions and how we can enhance memory and reduce forgetfulness.

Date
Saturday, October 14, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Wit, Works, and Woes of Oscar Wilde

On the anniversary of playwright, poet, and novelist Oscar Wilde’s birthday, explore the complex man who declared that he put his talent into his writings and his genius into his life. Afterward, enjoy a slice of birthday cake and a glass of sherry and raise a toast to the man who wrote, “I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.”

Date
Monday, October 16, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
String Theory Explained

In the last few decades, scientists have come to believe they have found the key that finally unlocks the secrets of the universe—dangling from something called string theory. Professor of physics Steven Gubser explains how string theory relates to the forces that drive the universe and also to the real world.

Date
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Mindshift: Learning How To Learn

This evening, Barbara Oakley shares insights into how everyone can learn how to learn, no matter your age or stage of life.  You’ll walk away with practical tools based on solid research—and you’ll have fun along the way!

Date
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Baseball’s First Golden Age

During the sports-crazed ’20s, baseball established itself as the true national pastime—and a modern game entering a golden age. Join John McMurray, chair of the Deadball Era Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research for an examination of how that came about and an evaluation of this remarkable decade of change in baseball history.

Date
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Romanov Dynasty: Tracing the Path of Triumph and Downfall

After enduring for so long, what made the Romanov dynasty vulnerable to come tumbling down exactly a hundred years ago? Historian George Munro examines the policies of the rulers most responsible for the dynasty’s success in its first two centuries and explores the factors that brought about its ultimate tragic loss of power.

Date
Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Untangling the Legend of Lionheart

Was Lionheart a brave warrior and a hero of the tales of Robin Hood or a vicious killer and failed monarch? The truth about King Richard I is plucked from the tangle of legends in this entertaining program.   

Date
Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Portugal’s Golden Ages: An Artistic and Cultural Mosaic

Portugal’s famous voyages of exploration in the 15th century led to the creation of global maritime trading empires in Asia, Africa, and Brazil and fabulous wealth in the homeland. Art historian Lawrence Butler explores the art and architecture of Portugal and its dependencies during several of the country’s golden ages. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, October 21, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
The Russia That Just Won’t Go Away: What Is This Eternal Survivor’s Secret?

What is it about Russia and Russians that has allowed them to survive seemingly insurmountable obstacles over the centuries? In a fascinating and informative daylong program, historian George E. Munro explores the nature of each of the crises that Russia has faced and considers how it was that state and society managed to hold together.

Date
Saturday, October 21, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Tea with a Bookseller: Previews of the Newest Mystery and Suspense Titles

Washington is home to excellent local bookstores serving every kind of literary taste. In the first of a new monthly series in which local booksellers preview upcoming titles, Eileen McGervey, owner of One More Page Books in Arlington, investigates the newest crop of mystery and suspense titles. (Tea, sherry, and cookies round out each session.)

Date
Sunday, October 22, 2017 - 4:00 p.m.
How Manhattan Became an Isle of Joy

Historian Mike Wallace takes a fascinating look at the confluence of social, economic, and creative forces that transformed New York City in the 1920s into a cultural mecca. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the rides at Coney Island, there was something for everyone.

Date
Monday, October 23, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
How the Brain Works

Neuroscientist Moran Cerf looks at how the brain influences behavior, emotion, decision-making, and dreams. He also offers a new perspective on how much free will we have.

Date
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Jane Austen: From the Parlor to Politics

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen. The passing years have increased her novels’ appeal as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the Dashwood sisters, and Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley continue to delight us. Discover how Austen introduced the realities of Regency England into her carefully crafted worlds.

Date
Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Evolution of Alice Waters: How American Cuisine Found Its Way

When Alice Waters opened restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, in 1971, no one ever anticipated the indelible mark it would leave on the culinary landscape. Tonight, Waters talks about her evolution from follower to activist who effects change on a global level through the common bond of food.

Date
Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
From Neoclassicism to Romanticism

Neoclassicism focused on order and the enduring values of Greece and Rome. Romanticism embraced exotic scenes and studies of nature. Art historian Joseph Cassar explores the artistic and cultural highlights of the two movements, from the Enlightenment to the age of revolutions, and their lasting impact on Western artists. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, October 28, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
In Search of Ancient Israel

Step back in history with biblical scholar Gary Rendsburg as he presents a fascinating overview of new findings about the world of ancient Israel. Learn about archaeological excavation and exploration in the Holy Land and what has been revealed about the people, culture, society, and religion of that ancient land.

Date
Saturday, October 28, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Mummies and Their Mysteries: Kings to Crocodiles to Eva Peron

The practice of mummification dates back thousands of years. Egyptologist Bob Brier (also known as Mr. Mummy), discusses the history of mummies from ancient to modern times.

Date
Saturday, October 28, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Secret Revolution: Espionage, 1776 Style

Learn how George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and other leaders of the American Revolution used espionage, covert action, and other techniques to trick the British.  David Robarge, chief historian at the CIA, explores the secrets of the Revolutionary War.

Date
Monday, October 30, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Alex Guarnaschelli: The Home Cook

Alex Guarnaschelli’s mother edited the seminal 1997 edition of The Joy of Cooking, which defined the food of the late 20th century. Now the accomplished chef and author talks about her new cookbook, The Home Cook, with recipes that reflect the way we eat today.

Date
Monday, October 30, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Grisly World of Victorian Surgery

If you were unlucky enough to need surgery in the early 19th-century, you had more to fear than your malady: The procedure itself could kill you. Medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris leads a fascinating Halloween-night excursion into the germ-ridden, dirty, and often-deadly Victorian operating room, where your surgeon made up for his lack of skill by some fairly gruesome means.

Date
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: Where the Noble Experiment Flopped

Prohibition came to the nation’s capital in 1917—three years earlier than the rest of the country. Despite the head start, Washington turned out to be a town that nurtured more than 3,000 speakeasies and where Congress had its own-in house bootlegger. Garrett Peck raises a toast to the centennial of the booze ban that wasn’t.

Date
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Written Out of History

In the earliest days of our nation, a handful of unsung heroes—including women, slaves, and an Iroquois chief—pioneered the ideas that led to the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, and the eventual abolition of slavery. Their largely forgotten stories are given a deserved airing by Utah Sen. Mike Lee.

Date
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Incomparable Ella: A 100th Birthday Tribute

John Edward Hasse, curator of the current Smithsonian exhibition Ella Fitzgerald at 100: First Lady of Song, draws on film and video clips, rare photographs, and original recordings  to provide insight into the extraordinary life and career of Ella Fitzgerald.

Date
Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Analyzing President Trump’s First Year: Twelve Months Unlike Any Other

On the 1-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election, experts from media and politics offer a measured examination of the changes President Trump has brought and how the political landscape has changed in 12 tumultuous months.

Date
Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Secrets of the Sommeliers

Not long ago, sommeliers were little more than bit players in the theater of fine dining. These days, however, many “somms” are among the marquee players in the world of food and wine. Hear four established stars share stories about working with wine and then enjoy a guided wine tasting.

Date
Friday, November 3, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Scott Kelly: A Year in Space

The veteran of four space flights, astronaut Scott Kelly discusses the dangers, achievements, and physical and emotional challenges he encountered during his record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station.

Date
Friday, November 3, 2017 - 7:00 p.m.
Visual Literacy: The Art of Seeing

In an illustrated daylong program, art historian Lisa Passaglia Bauman explains how art communicates, how to analyze and interpret it, and how it reveals something about the society that produced it. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Traditional Roots of Modern China: How an Ancient World View Drives Contemporary Policies

In a timely daylong program, China scholar Robert Daly traces China’s 21st-century drive for wealth, power, and status to the beliefs, geographic influences, and social and cultural practices rooted in the earliest dynasties.

Date
Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
The Black Sea: Civilizations at the Crossroads of Europe and Asia

From antiquity to our own day, the Black Sea has been a crossroads of civilizations and is still a bridge between Europe and the Middle East and between the cultures of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Islam. Spend a day drawn into its turbulent past and present.

Date
Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Burr Conspiracy: An Early American Crisis of the Truth

What led Aaron Burr to be tried for treason in 1807? Historian James E. Lewis Jr. examines how partisan politics, biased newspapers, Thomas Jefferson—and Burr’s rumored plan to establish a new empire ruled by his daughter—all played a role in the former vice president’s public depiction as “the chief villain of the Founding Fathers.”

Date
Monday, November 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Future of Spices

The global culinary movement has made even the most exotic spices an essential part of many kitchens today. Lior Lev Sercarz, a chef, spice blender, and owner of New York City spice shop, discusses how the demand for spices and ethnic food are challenging producers today, and looks at new applications for spices—such as distilling and brewing—that move beyond cooking.

Date
Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Digging Deeper: An Insider’s Look at Field Archaeology

They go out with their shovels and come back with priceless artifacts. If you think that sums up field archaeology, you’ve got another thing coming. From excavating lost cities to an army of Chinese Terracotta warriors, learn a few secrets from a seasoned pro.

Date
Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Fate of Rome: Nature’s Triumph Over Human Ambition

The centuries-long dissolution of the Roman Empire was shaped not just by emperors, soldiers, and barbarians but also by volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, climate instability, and devastating viruses and bacteria. Classicist Kyle Harper traces how a seemingly invincible empire fell victim to forces far stronger than its armies: those of the environment.

Date
Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Lee Child on Jack Reacher’s Latest Adventure

As his newest thriller debuts, join internationally bestselling author Lee Child as he discusses the inspiration behind his Jack Reacher novels, his writing process, and the latest story in the series, The Midnight Line.

Date
Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Jacques Pepin: Cooking for the Love of It

For years, legendary cook, teacher, and host Jacques Pepin has made it look easy. Now, he has a new kitchen apprentice: his granddaughter, 13-year-old Shorey Wesen. Listen to a delightful conversation as Pepin and Shorey sit down with Joe Yonan, food editor of the Washington Post.

Date
Friday, November 10, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Tea with a Bookseller: Previews of the Newest Nonfiction Titles

Washington is home to excellent local bookstores serving every kind of literary taste. In the second installment of a new monthly series in which local booksellers preview upcoming titles, Jon Purves from Politics and Prose looks at the big nonfiction books set to debut this fall. (Tea, sherry, and cookies round out each session.)

Date
Sunday, November 12, 2017 - 4:00 p.m.
The Norman Invasion: William’s Unlikely Conquest

The 1066 invasion and occupation of England led by Duke William II of Normandy changed the course of history. But the Norman Conquest never should have succeeded. Historian Jennifer Paxton sets the scene for this unlikely triumph for France, and how its after-effects echo through the centuries.

Date
Monday, November 13, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Gilbert and Sullivan and the Savoy Tradition

In this lively evening, Steinway artist and musical theater expert Robert Wyatt draws on musical recordings and film clips to introduce this legendary theatrical duo and the cultural and societal trends that informed their work. A performance by members of the Georgetown Gilbert and Sullivan Society adds to the Savoyard delights.

Date
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Lafayette Escadrille: Legends with a Cause

The brash young Americans who volunteered to fly with French fighter pilots during the early days of World War I became the nucleus of the legendary Lafayette Escadrille. Paul Glenshaw, an aviation expert and filmmaker, tells the story of the “founding fathers of American combat aviation” and offers preview clips from his documentary film about the Escadrille pilots.

Date
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Code Girls: The Women Who Decrypted World War II

In 1942, more than 10,000 young women were recruited for a top-secret project in which they served as codebreakers for the U.S. Army and Navy. Their wartime achievements saved countless lives and aided the Allied victory—but were nearly erased from history. Author Liza Mundy rescues the code girls’ amazing story.

Date
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
La Cucina vs. La Cuisine: A Gastronomic Faceoff

Italian and French food fans seem destined to be at perpetual odds in the “which-is-the best?” argument. Join Fred Plotkin, author of six books on Italian culinary traditions, as he examines how la cucina and la cuisine are not so much rivals as great influences and inspirations on one another. Afterward, savor a buffet that shows off the delights of both cuisines.

Date
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Thomas Paine: Revolutions of a Founding Father

He was admired for helping to ignite the fight for independence in the Colonies, but when Thomas Paine died in June 1809 only a dozen people came to his funeral. Historian Richard Bell examines the reasons behind Paine’s meteoric rise to celebrity status during the American Revolution and his equally dramatic fall from grace in the decades afterward.

Date
Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Spell of Vermeer

A master of light and color, Vermeer created a timeless world in which the smallest actions took on a beauty beyond their commonplace settings. Explore his artistry and legacy with art historian Aneta Georgievska-Shine. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, November 18, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Protestant Reformation

October 31, 2017—Reformation Day—marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that began with Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. John M. Freymann, permanent military professor in history at the U.S. Naval Academy, reviews the emergence and development of the 16th-century reformations from the late Middle Ages into the early modern period.

Date
Saturday, November 18, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Secret Selves: Charlotte and Emily Brontë

Charlotte and Emily Brontë lived a small, isolated family home in an English village, far from literary circles. Author John Pfordresher examines the forces of creative imagination and personality that nonetheless allowed them to cast a critical eye on the issues of their time through passionate female characters—who often resembled their creators.

Date
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
What It’s Like To Be a Dog

What if we could actually know what was going on in our pets’ brains? It’s possible, according to neuroscientist Greg Berns. He shares stories about his research with dogs and other animals that reveal that complex intelligence is all around us.

Date
Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Scandinavian Art and Architecture: Modern Aesthetic and Traditional Heart

Scandinavians are renowned internationally for their modern aesthetic and innovations in architecture and design. Explore the creative contributions of the region’s beautiful cities with art historian Karin Alexis. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, December 2, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Write the Stories of Your Ancestors

You’ve gathered information about your ancestors. It’s time to share their stories. Leading genealogy expert John Colletta explores the many ways to assemble and write the saga of a family.

Date
Saturday, December 2, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Dickens Without the Humbug

Follow the life and career of Charles Dickens through the best of times and the worst of times with author Daniel Stashower and actor Scott Sedar, reading from selected works. Then, have a piece of cake and raise a toast to the premier storyteller of the Victorian age. 

Date
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Olmec Culture: Monuments, Masterpieces, and Mysteries

More than 30,000 years ago, important centers of Olmec culture flourished along the Gulf of Mexico. George L. Scheper of Johns Hopkins University provides a cultural overview of these achievements, and examines the Olmecs’ relationship and influence on neighboring civilizations. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1 credit)

Date
Saturday, December 9, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Early-Renaissance Florence and Siena: Dueling Artistic Traditions

Lisa Baumann, professor of art history at George Mason University, explores the stylistic differences among artists working in the city-states of Florence and Siena at the cusp of the Renaissance. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Date
Monday, December 11, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.