Physics and Space Sciences

Public Science Lecture Series

In our monthly public Science Lecture Series we host an evening lecture on a topic of general interest in science in the auditorium Olin Engineering Complex (room EC 118, see map below) on the 4th Friday of each month during the academic year. The lectures are at 8 p.m., and are followed at 9 p.m. by a public viewing session at the campus observatory on the roof of the Olin Physical Sciences Building (weather permitting). 

Check out previous lectures at our channel at and stream the videos in your browser.

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A Trip Through the Snake Brain: How Pit Vipers and Pythons see the World

Fri Sep 26, 2014

Dr. Michael S. Grace
Associate Dean, College of Science
Director, Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory
Director, High Resolution Microscopy & Advanced Imaging Center
Florida Institute of Technology


Pit vipers and pythons use their eyes to see much like we do, but they also possess novel "pit organs" that allow them to see heat! Like a heat-sensing thermal camera, these snakes form an image of their thermal environment, but they do it better than anything else on Earth - natural or artificial. Recent discoveries in the Grace lab are unravelling the mystery of snake infrared "vision", from the molecular thermosensors to the wiring of the brain to the behavioral correlates of seeing heat. Of particular recent interest, Dr. Grace and his colleagues have trained wild pythons, recently collected from the Everglades, to perform a complex series of tasks (including pushing buttons in response to flashing lights!) to teach us how they see the world. Dr. Grace will describe how his work may aid the development of novel artificial heat sensing devices, and help us understand the threats of invasive exotic species like the Burmese python.


Fri Oct 24, 2014

Dr. Véronique Petit

Want even more astronomy?

We now have the Melbourne Astronomical Society for local-area amateur astronomers (including students) to meet, discuss science and equipment, tips and techniques. If you'd like to join us for monthly meetings and meet other local-area amateur astronomers, please sign up for the MAS mailing list. We're meeting on the same nights as the Lecture Series at 6:30 p.m. in the Physical Sciences building room 144 (the first floor towards the south doors).


From:    To: 

Once on campus, park in the lot adjacent to the buildings marked 1 or 2. Talks will take place in the building marked 1 (Olin Engineering Complex Auditorium, room EC 118). Observing will take place on the roof of the building marked 2 (Physical Sciences Building) weather permitting.

FIT Map Showing Location of Astro Lecture Events