Scholars Notebook September 2015


Human Energy Demand 
& Climate Change:

What roles are appropriate for renewable and advanced nuclear technologies, including that most Intriguing of 
energy sources—
Nuclear Fusion.

September 2015 Speaker
Photo permission from George Tynan

A Talk by

Dr. Tynan is Associate Dean, Jacobs School of Engineering, and Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Faculty, Center for Energy Research at UC San Diego. He is an expert on plasma science and its application to controlled nuclear fusion, as well as the larger issues of sustainable energy. His talk will briefly examine the global energy demands of humanity, the constraints that climate change imposes on the emission of greenhouse gases, and how to meet global energy demand within these constraints. He will discuss the emerging role of renewable energy technologies, and advanced fission technology and will especially focus on the possibilities of nuclear fusion. 



I’d like to focus my messages this year on the many ways we continue to learn, because for me, being President of SDIS involves a lot of learning. 

I am always doing that which I cannot do,
In order that I may learn how to do it.
Pablo Picasso*

I feel to a kinship to Picasso’s “I,” but if I were writing his quote, I couldn’t in all honesty include the word “always.” I do have this habit of saying “yes” to things as an opportunity to “stretch” myself. I end up having a steep learning curve to maneuver.  

As President of SDIS, I’m getting a lot of help with that learning curve. Sue Rosner, last year’s President, has given me invaluable input. And I am fortunate to be working with an experienced board of directors. I am the only new board member, so I’m counting on their combined experience to guide me this year. I hope each and every one of them has a sense of how much I appreciate their input and continuing contributions to me and to SDIS.

Who are these invaluable SDIS board members?  

There’s Mike Seidel, Executive Vice President and Secretary. As a two-fer, he’s more than willing to wear several hats, and I’ve seen actual pictures where he is literally doing that. Tom Samaras, Administrative Vice President. Tom has volunteered for years to be on top of the intricacies of our meeting room(s) at UCSD. I can’t imagine how SDIS could ever replace him. Alvin Halpern, Program. As an almost new member, Alvin jumped right in to fill one of the most crucial jobs in SDIS. He began last spring to line up this year’s speakers. We all love his programs and his sense of humor. Dave Parker, Treasurer and Membership.  As another two-fer, Dave has had a busy summer, not only getting acquainted with the treasurer’s job, but preparing and mailing renewal forms. Arlene Gilbert, Editor, Scholars Notebook. Arlene was one of Sue R’s finds, recruited for this job almost before she joined! She loves writing and is the perfect choice for the job. Barbara George, Member At Large.  Barbara was another SDIS newbie who has competently planned our annual Holiday Party. I had heard about the capabilities of Arlene and Barbara long before I met them, and getting to know them is an added bonus for me.

And then there are those non-board SDIS members who contribute in their very special ways: There’s Life Member Joan Casale, who provides the sustenance for our sweet tooths at the general meetings; Don Bamber, who is working patiently with difficult web site software; Gerry Horwitz, who once again hosted another delightful July garden party; and Caroline Simpson, who came early and stayed late to help Gerry. And best of all, Donna Boyle continues her contributions to SDIS by working on several projects.

I’m learning from all of these people. I know more today than I knew last month. I have a lot more to learn, but I’m appreciative of the challenge and the help. Thank you, everyone!

*Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973. Considered a genius, and most famous 20th Century artist, he’s not as well known for his writings. He loved to write.  At one time he briefly quit painting to concentrate on writing poetry and plays. He expected his writings to gain fame after his death. A compilation of his poetry, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz & Other Poems, was published in 2004. His quotes appear frequently in books and articles about him.  Quotes that I particularly like: 

I do not seek.  I find.

Every positive value has its price in negative terms…the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.



Meeting Details are in Column 2

Colloquy Café
Our topic for August was "gender," a word with a wealth of definitions and little agreement on its meaning.  First, we discussed definitions for sex, i.e., humans' sex according to their chromosomes.  Since that got us nowhere in today's society of gender dysphoria and transgender social clubs, we focused on how people in history and other societies define gender.  To many, it defines one's sex, but in reality, it's a cultural construct, the meaning of which is very difficult to describe, since it changes from one culture to another and even among people within the same culture, like Americans.  As sex is more about whether we're XX or XY, gender is more about what one's culture expects from males and females.  Gender is seen as an identity and an expectation, along with the widely varied definitions of male/female one could find within a small group of people.  As someone said, "gender" is a political word rather than a medical term.  As such, we were not able to come up with any rigid definitions but decided we would return to the discussion sometime in the future.  Our September meeting will be on 9/16/15 with "happiness" as our topic.


Culture One
Members of Culture One have found an excellent book for zeroing in on our recent topic of interest, the evolution and development of humans. The book is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari, Harper Collins, 2015, hardcover, Vintage Books, Paperback. It’s a real find: “A bravura [re]telling of the human story … brilliantly clear, witty, and erudite.”

In resuming our Culture One meetings this fall, we are offering study group members the choice of either pursuing research on the evolution and development of Sapiens, or deciding to focus on a basic component of “Cultural Differences,” such as “Language and Thought,” “Centrality of Religion,” or “Neuroscience of Cultural Differences.”

Once we are able to meet again, we will announce the time and place for an organizational meeting at which we will determine the approach we wish to pursue at this time: evolution and development of homo sapiens, or fundamentals of cultural differences.

For further information or to express interest in attending our Culture One discussion meeting, please contact


Culture Two
In September the Culture Two study group will begin study of the Middle East, in order to increase our understanding of the issues related to that region. For any member of SDIS who may be interested, now is an ideal time to join this study group, as we start discussion of a new region of the world, its peoples and ideas. We invite inquiries from SDIS members about participating and will gladly provide details about readings, meetings, and the like. If you are possibly interested in participating please contact Sam Gusman by email at  New memberswelcome.

At its August meeting this study group completed its discussion of Religion in India by Fred W. Clothey. 

At the study group’s next meeting on Friday, September 25, our study of the Middle East will begin with an overview of Islam. Background reading for this meeting will be Islam, The Religion and The People by Bernard Lewis. 


Film Group
The Film Group will meet Wednesday, September 2 at 10 a.m. at the home of Barbara Heckler to view Inequality for All, a 2013 documentary which follows Robert Reich, U.C. Berkley professor and Secretary of Labor in the Clinton cabinet, as he explains the causes and implications in the disappearance of the middle class.  Contact for more information.


Literature Group
The literary group is meeting Monday, September 21st, at the home of Larry and Carol Gartner. We will be reading these selections from Thomas Mann's Stories of Three Decades: Little Herr Friedmann, Tobias Mindernickle, Little Lizzy, Tonio Kroger, Tristan, Gladius Dei, A Man and His Dog, Disorder and Early Sorrow, and Mario and the Magician.  All of these stories are in the Modern Library edition.

Marla Jensen will be leading the discussion. 

We meet at 10:30 a.m. Please bring your own lunch; Larry and Carol will provide refreshments.


Neuroscience Study Group
The Neuroscience Study Group will meet the third Tuesday of each month, at 3 p.m. in the home of Bea Rose. Discussions will focus on significant contemporary writings. The subject of the meeting September 15 is an article in The Guardian, published January 21, 2015, by Oliver Burkeman, Why Can’t the World’s Greatest Minds Solve the Mystery of Consciousness.



 Saturday, September 19, 2015
1:30 –3:30 PM

Free and Open to the Public 

Room 111A, 
Chancellor’s Complex
UCSD Campus 

Free Parking in the 
Gilman Parking Structure

Click here for maps and
directions telling how
to park on campus
and walk to the meeting room

This event, like all monthly meetings of SDIS, is free and open to the public. A question/discussion period follows the talk.


Dr. George Tynan received his Ph.D. in 1991 from the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, and after several years of research at major laboratories and in industry, he joined the UCSD faculty in 1999. Among other areas, he is an expert on the plasma physics of controlled nuclear fusion as an energy source.

Prof. Tynan is interested in the larger issue of transitioning to a sustainable energy economy based upon a mixture of efficient end-use technologies, large scale deployment of renewable energy sources, and incorporation of a new generation of nuclear technologies such as advanced fission and fusion reactor systems.



Third Saturday of each month:
2015 - 2016
September 19
October 17
November 21
(no December meeting)
January 16
February 20
March 19
April 16
May 21


Supper With Scholars

Meets on the 2nd Thursday of every month at 6 pm at Humphreys La Jolla Restaurant, 3299 Holiday Court, La Jolla. Meals from the menu (see are Dutch Treat. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to, stating whether you are coming alone or bringing friend(s).

The next two meetings are on September 10 and October 8.

Group discussion is based on suggested topics that have particularly interested the attendees in the last month. If possible, we select a question that can be addressed from the viewpoints of the various areas of expertise of the participants, which are ordinarily quite diverse, ranging from the humanities to natural sciences to social sciences to various professions. If some subject has particularly interested you during the past month, please suggest it.


Breakfast Roundtable
No meeting in September. Next meeting is October 19, 9:30 to 11 a.m. at Coco’s for breakfast and roundtable discussion. Coco’s is in University City, at the intersection of Genesee and Nobel Drive in the Costa Verde shopping center.



Study Groups
Times, Sites, Contacts

Colloquy Café
September 16, 2015
At the Vi
Contact: M.E. Stratthaus

Culture One
Time and place to be determined.
Contact: Sue Rosner

Culture Two
September 25, 2015
Contact: Sam Gusman
New Members Welcome

Film Group
September 2, 2015
10 a.m.
At Barbara’s home
Contact: Barbara Heckler

Literature Group
September 21, 2015
Host: Larry & Carol Gartner

Science Group
September 15, 2015
At Bea’s home at the Vi
Contact: Bea Rose


New Members:

We are pleased to welcome two new members who joined SDIS this summer:

  • Jean Mabie, who lists her interests as Finance, Music, and Neuroscience; and
  • Iris Lapidus, whose interests are listed as Medical Research and Psychology.