Category Archives: UC San Diego

CARTA at 10

More than 20 years ago, a small group of La Jolla academics began periodic meetings for transdisciplinary discussions on explaining the origin of humans – anthropogeny – an effort which has blossomed into an international intellectual collaborative organized by UC San Diego and the Salk Institute as the Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny – CARTA.

At the formal opening of CARTA just over 10 years ago a group of CARTA leaders and advisors attempted to “define the agenda.” Since then, much additional relevant information has emerged, and an expanded group of experts now revisits the agenda by addressing the following questions on a broad array of selected topics: What do we know for certain? What do we think we know? What do we need to know? How do we proceed?

Effectively, this is a whirlwind tour of many, but not all, approaches to anthropogeny.

Browse more programs in CARTA 10th Anniversary: Revisiting the Agenda

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Climate Change


“When you talk about diversity of the soil, human beings we carry our soil with us. And we give that a very fancy term which is all the rage these days which is ‘microbiome.’ And as we see microbes diminishing in the soil, we are also seeing the same things happen in ourselves,” says Kelli Gray-Meisner, RDN.

Super blooms, extreme weather, fires, insects, and human health, these seemingly separate things impact each other – for better or worse. Join a panel of experts as they tease out the relationships being built and destroyed by climate change. They also share how we as individuals can work to limit negative impacts and create positive outcomes.

Watch — Climate Change: What it Means for Our Agriculture & Our Health – Future Thought Leaders Series Presented by the Berry Good Food Foundation

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California Seaweed

Kelp cutters once harvested tons of the nearshore kelp off the San Diego County coastline, producing additives for your ice cream, beer and pharmaceuticals.

And of course, anyone who has had a California Roll or a bowl of miso soup is familiar with the centuries-old use of Nori.

But now Scripps researchers are working to uncover other value from the ubiquitous red, green and brown algae that thrives in our waters, even exploring the use of seaweed to reduce methane produced by dairy cows – and perhaps even improving their health and productivity.

Join Scripps Oceanography’s Jennifer Smith and entrepreneur Brant Chlebowski as they tell the story of their collaboration on applied aquaculture research that has sparked the formation of the California Seaweed Company.

Watch — Food, Feed and Climate Change – Emerging Opportunities for Shore Based Seaweed Aquaculture

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Contrast and Concordance

In his program notes for the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus concert entitled “Bernstein Centennial,” conductor Steven Schick notes that:

At first glance, this concert program seems like a straightforward juxtaposition of light and dark: we have Leonard Bernstein’s magnificent Kaddish —his prayer for the dead— and, on the other hand, Beethoven’s genial Eighth Symphony. Tying them together— metaphorically if not musically—is Laurie San Martin’s evocatively titled, nights bright days.

As is the case with other concerts in the Symphony’s 2018/2019 “Lineage” season, those juxtapositions are more complex than is evident at first encounter.

Leonard Bernstein’s Third Symphony takes its name, Kaddish, from the Jewish hymns of praise to God. Interestingly, though frequently associated in the popular imagination with Jewish mourning rituals the word and/or concept of death is never mentioned in the text; rather, the intention is to express a continued commitment to life (chayim) and faith in God in the face of overwhelming loss. Bernstein’s music moves metaphorically through the well-known stages of grief, at times lyrical and serene and at others discordant and tempestuous, reflecting the struggles of post-Holocaust Jews to maintain their core identity and beliefs while reaching an accommodation with an often-hostile world. Bernstein dedicated this piece to the memory of President John F. Kennedy, whom Bernstein had befriended at Harvard and who was assassinated three weeks before Kaddish’s premiere. The dedication bestowed a universal sense of sorrow, mingled with hope, upon a work rooted in Jewish tradition.

The contrasts most evident in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 are with that composer’s other symphonies and the fraught circumstances of his life. The Eighth is Beethoven’s shortest symphony and the one which most closely adheres to classical norms as established by Haydn and Mozart. In comparison to his better-known symphonies, most notably the Fifth and epochal Ninth, the Eighth (which Beethoven called “my little symphony in F”) is jovial, light on its feet, and even – dare I say it – humorous. This is all the more remarkable considering that at the time he wrote it Beethoven was grappling with deafness, his estrangement from his nephew, and unrequited love. Perhaps the composer was seeking solace in familiar forms, but whatever Beethoven’s motivations his Symphony No. 8 stands as a beacon of clarity in turbulent times, both Beethoven’s and ours.

Laurie San Martin’s nights bright days takes its title from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 43:

All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

San Martin notes that she wrote this piece in the middle of the night, and like Bernstein’s Kaddish, nights bright days contrasts light with dark, tranquility with anguish. The small hours of the morning are frequently a time for uncertainty mixed with reflection, with the approaching dawn promising the possibility of, if not resolution, perhaps a renewed sense of confidence.

Watch — Bernstein Centennial – La Jolla Symphony & Chorus

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Eavesdropping on Whales

Since ancient seafarers first heard the strange calls of whales, humans have been fascinated by their meaning – from Flipper’s clicks and trills to the long serenades of Humpbacks. Inhabiting the dark ocean depths, whales use sound in many different ways – from feeding to navigating to finding friends and family.

Join postdoctoral scholar Goldie Phillips for a captivating look into how scientists use whale calls to study whale populations.

Watch — Eavesdropping on Whales: How Whale Calls Inform Science

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