Bowers Writers House opens for semester, panel on new technology

Jamie Verrekia September 14, 2017 0

A panel-style presentation allowed the Elizabethtown College community to hear a variety of opinions on new technology emerging within the sciences. The event took place Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. at the College’s Bowers Writers House. The panel consisted of four professors with varying specializations in the sciences.
The presenters included associate professor of physics and engineering Dr. Tomas Estrada, associate professor of biology Dr. Diane Bridge, associate professor of biology Dr. Aaron Cecala and professor of physics and engineering Dr. Kurt DeGoede.
Estrada enjoys writing and soccer. Bridge’s research focuses on the connection between biomedical and environmental sciences. Cecala has recently done research involving the study of a monkey’s brain. DeGoede is an avid runner.
Before the event began, the weather outside did not look promising. The rain continued to come down as students entered the event.
“I liked the multiple perspectives among the panel,” first-year Scott Kennedy said. “I also liked how the topics were interconnected to each other.”
The event started with a raffle for a book entitled “The Biology of Luck” by Jacob Appel. Then the presentations began. The panel set up gave each professor about ten minutes to share their research.
DeGoede went first and talked about how wearable devices use sensors to track the body’s movement. The devices can be useful for patients completing physical therapy. He also brought in a prototype.
Estrada presented next. He talked about how old technology like the electronical power grid, computer and radio have “changed our lives.”
He went on to talk about future technology that could have the same impact, such as the smart grid, self-driving cars and 5G. A smart grid would allow electronic communication to run more efficiently.
The self-driving cars may be able to “prevent drunk driving and reduce human error,” Estrada said.
5G is a new form of smartphone that will be able to convey information more widely. He concluded his segment by explaining some concerns with the newer developing technology. One issue is that the interconnectivity of the devices could lead to cyberhacking.
After Estrada, Cecala talked about how advancements in technological tools have helped advance the study of the brain.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a technology that allows doctors to see images of the brain, but it does not give them a full picture of what the brain looks like. Advancing technology can now turn on and off certain areas of the brain to give a better understanding of the brain as a whole.
“Computers have greatly helped make advancements in this field,” Cecala said.
Bridge presented last and talked about how studying molecules can help in creating new technology.
For example, bacteria found in Yellowstone National Park undergo a process called the polymerase chain reaction. This reaction means DNA is being copied. Scientists can use this process to make faster and cheaper DNA sequencing, which can help in treating diseases.
A chocolate fondue reception followed the event, which gave students a chance to ask the professors additional questions depending on their interests.
The event is the first of many to be held at the Bowers Writers House this year. The next event will take place Sept. 15 and will discuss the changing climate of Turkey.

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