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Sociable science

LESLIE BREFELDsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc
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FRISCO – The bar may not be the first place a person with questions about science thinks of turning to for answers, but the Backcountry Brewery is exactly the place to take them.Starting next Tuesday, the Frisco establishment will host the inaugural meeting of the Café Scientifique at the Summit, a group which meets once a month to discuss a scientific topic of interest.Breckenridge resident Elmer Koneman had taken the drive to Denver’s meeting several times before deciding to start one right here in the mountains.The first topic to be addressed is on bird flu and pandemic viruses. Dr. J. John Cohen, Professor of Immunology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, will give a presentation for about 25 minutes. Koneman said the group then takes a break for folks to get another beer or use the bathroom, before opening the discussion.Attendants are not expected to know much or anything about the topic; Koneman said a “basic intellectual curiosity” is the only requirement.”There are a great number of issues that have to do with just living in our present society, and a lot of these obviously have scientific interactions,” Koneman said. “I think the more people know about science, the more informed they are, the better decision they can make.”Café Scientifique started in England in 1998 and currently there are groups in more than 30 cities in Europe. Besides Denver, Colorado Cafés are also located in Colorado Springs and Boulder.

Koneman said the group chooses topics relative to the particular audience, and at the end of each session participants can input ideas they’d like to see covered.”We’re trying to have broad topics that have more public interest,” he said.The list of topics already compiled and scheduled differ in their areas of science as well as their scope.Koneman said he is ready with questions for Dr. Garrett Sullivan’s June 27 discussion on “Alternatives to Fossil Fuel,” such as how diesel fuel differs from regular fuel and why the United States hasn’t looked into the motors that burn alcohol like in Brazil.When Dr. Jan Updike leads the discussion titled, “Neuroscience – Brain Anatomy, Physiology and Patterns of Human Behavior,” Koneman said he is interested in learning more about how a person’s gene pool affects behavior.He said he also expects the session on global warming to be exciting, since he knows the presenter feels strongly about the topic.Koneman, a medical doctor, will serve as moderator to the group, and will keep the discussion on track.”Cafés are always a lot of fun and also very informative,” he said.

Inaugural Meeting of Café Scientifique at the Summit- What: Informal discussion about a chosen scientific issue in a laid-back setting. Each meeting begins with a presentation by a person in the know, followed by open discussion. No specific scientific knowledge assumed. The first topic is “Bird Flu” with J. John Cohen, M.D., Professor of Immunology, University of Colorado School of Medicine- Where: Backcountry Brewery, Frisco- When: Tuesday, May 30 from 6:30-8 p.m. Continues the last Tuesday of each month.- Contact: (970) 453-2685 for more information.

Upcoming Café Topics- June 27: “Alternatives to Fossil Fuel” with Garrett Sullivan, M.D., anesthesiologist, Summit Medical Center, Frisco- July 25: “Darwinian Evolution and Intelligent Design” with Dr. James E. Platt, Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Denver- Aug. 29: “Neuroscience – Brain Anatomy, Physiology and Patterns of Human Behavior” with Jan Updike, M.D., retired, Frisco- Sept. 26: “The Facts and Fiction of Global Warming” with Dr. Marty Hertzberg, Ph.D., Copper MountainLeslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13622, or lbrefeld@summitdaily.com.


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