Science by the Pint

Our new fall and winter schedule is here! See below.
Science by the Sippy Cup & The Loved Child Present:

The Social Network of Germs: What is the microbiome and why we need computers to understand it.

with Dr. Daniel Segré

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 at 7 PM at The Loved Child
173 Belmont St. Belmont, MA 02478

Most people think about microbes only when they, or their children, fight an infection. Trillions of microbes, however, accompany us all the time. They populate our body since birth, forming tiny but complex societies that count thousands of different species, and that are collectively known as the human microbiome. Most species in the microbiome are not harmful to us, and in fact perform functions that are fundamental for our health. During this get-together we will discuss a few of the fascinating questions around research on the microbiome: (1) How do we know who is there? (2) How do these microbes interact with each other and with our body? (3) How can science deal with the huge data associated with the microbiome? (4) Can we predict how our microbiome behaves, and modify it to cure diseases? Visiting Scientist: Daniel Segré, Ph.D. Professor of Biology, Bioinformatics & Biomedical Engineering, Boston University

Science by the Sippy Cup is an exciting event series running tangent to Science by the Pint, but aimed at an audience that might not make it to the bar on a weeknight: parents! Our pilot event is for parents only, and future events may include children. Like our sister group, our goal is to spark a dialogue between scientists and the community. Each month, we will host a scientist with his/her lab to share their work in a casual and engaging discussion. Topics range the scientific gamut and discussions are targeted for a non-scientific audience, so come curious and ready to explore cutting-edge ideas! The registration fee covers wine/drinks and local middle eastern appetizers!
We hope to see you at our launch to learn more about the microscopic bugs that live in us, on us, and all around us!

Please reserve your seat at:
Questions? Contact:

Our traditional format SbtP in December features…

M. Selim Ünlü (and John H. Connor)

Soap-bubble physics to visualize and count individual viral pathogens

Meet us Monday, December 14th at 7pm at The Burren in Davis Square

Disease diagnostics have been evolving through the synergistic collaboration of medicine with engineering and science. Clinical tests actually date back thousands of years to the time of Hippocrates, when the color and odor of urine was utilized in diagnostics. Until the 20th century, clinical diagnostics relied mostly on medical history and physical examination. With the advent of the measurement/sensing technologies that provided the ability of detecting trace substances in bodily fluids, such as blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid, in vitro tests have become a cornerstone of clinical practice.

Following the invention of optical microscope in the 17th century, scientists have visualized cells, microorganisms and bacteria and identified previously unknown sources of infection. Viruses, however, remained elusive due to their small size compared to the wavelength of visible light making visualization under an optical microscope practically impossible. Recently, we utilized a fundamental property of light – its wave nature – allowing for enhanced visualization and measurement of minute amounts of material using interference. Using this property of light that makes soap bubbles display wonderful patterns of rainbow colors, we can now visualize and count individual viruses bound on a sensor surface. The ability of counting individual viruses or “digital detection” is a disruptive technology potentially allowing most advanced disease diagnostic tools to become available at a low cost and at the point-of-need. This is similar to how digital audio on compact discs enabled access to the highest-quality music recordings without expensive Hi-Fi equipment. Similar to reading a binary recording (1 s and 0 s), detection of single particles, when possible, is easier than the precise measurement of the ensemble quantities.

Check out our new fall+winter schedule below: