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  • Sponsored by Best of the East Bay
  • Sponsored by Future Fridays

Future Fridays

Upcoming Speakers | Past Speakers

Chabot Space & Science Center presents
a series of community conversations
with science and futurist thought leaders

  • Tickets: $23 Members / $26 Guests
    $30 at the Door: No discounts & subject to availability

Ticket proceeds help underwrite the educational programming at Chabot.
Speaker Series tickets make great gifts for friends and teachers!

This series is proudly sponsored by Rudney Associates


2015 Season

March 20th (6pm - 7:30pm)
Bill Nye: Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation

"Evolution is one of the most powerful and important ideas ever developed in the history of science. Every question it raises leads to new answers, new discoveries, and new smarter questions. The science of evolution is as expansive as nature itself. It is also the most meaningful creation story that humans have ever found."—Bill Nye


Sparked by a controversial debate in February 2014, Bill Nye has set off on an energetic campaign to spread awareness of evolution and the powerful way it shapes our lives. In his latest book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, he explains why race does not really exist; evaluates the true promise and peril of genetically modified food; reveals how new species are born, in a dog kennel and in a London subway; takes a stroll through 4.5 billion years of time; and explores the new search for alien life, including aliens right here on Earth.

With infectious enthusiasm, Bill Nye shows that evolution is much more than a rebuttal to creationism; it is an essential way to understand how nature works—and to change the world. It might also help you get a date on a Saturday night!

Bio »

Bill Nye attended Cornell University, then worked as a mechanical engineer for the Boeing Company and eventually became a comedy show writer and performer. Nye went on to get his own show, Bill Nye, the Science Guy, which was an educational program that taught science to preteens. Each of the show's 100 episodes focused on a specific topic. The show is often used in schools as an educational tool. Over its five-year run, the show was hugely successful and won 18 Emmy Awards. Nye became a well-known entertainer and went on to perform in films and television shows, among other things, after his show ended. He also remained vocal in the science community.

When Nye isn't acting, making TV and film appearances, or writing, he is working as a scientist. In the early 2000s, he helped develop sundials that were used in the Mars Exploration Rover missions. From 2005 to 2010, he served as vice president and then as second executive director of The Planetary Society, one of the largest space-interest groups in the world.

Nye became the face of a "Bill Nye's Climate Lab," a permanent exhibition at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California. He is also a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, a nonprofit scientific and educational organization that aims to promote scientific inquiry and critical investigation: Nye has said that he is concerned about scientific illiteracy and wants to help teach the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims.

April 17 (6pm - 7:30pm)
Steven Shepard: From the Internet of Things to the Internet of Human Capability

Imagine if your coffee maker knew when you awoke and automatically started the brewing cycle. Walking to the kitchen, lights turn on and off as you enter and exit. Imagine if your car could send a message directly to your mechanic informing them of a problem. Science fiction at one point, now realized through technological developments. Explore how these scenarios are radically changing healthcare, education, retail, and other areas of life.

Bio »

Dr. Steven Shepard is the founder of the Shepard Communications Group in Williston, Vermont, co-founder of the Executive Crash Course Company, and founder of Shepard Images. A professional author, photographer and educator with more than 30 years of experience in the technology industry, he has written books and articles on a wide variety of topics.

Dr. Shepard specializes in international issues in technology with an emphasis on the social implications of technological change, technology infrastructure development, strategy creation, technical marketing and strategic technical sales. He studies the social implications of technological change, the deployment of social media as an organizational collaboration tool, and the development of multilingual educational programs. Through the Executive Crash Course Company, he also researches the effective use of multimedia. He has written and directed more than 40 videos and films and technical presentations on a broad range of topics for companies and organizations worldwide. He has written and photographed in more than 90 countries, serving clients across many different industries including telecommunications, IT, media, advertising, healthcare, and government, to name a few. He is fluent in Spanish and routinely publishes and delivers presentations in that language.



May 8th (6pm - 7:30pm)
Ed Finn: How to Build a Dream Machine

We can’t imagine a future if we don’t have the words to describe it. The first building blocks of any new world are stories and ideas. This was the inspiration for Project Hieroglyph, an experiment in bringing scientists, engineers and science fiction writers together to dream up astounding, technically feasible visions of the near future. Using Hieroglyph as a launching point, this talk will explore the relationship between science fiction and science and the vital role of imagination in getting big stuff done.

Bio »

Ed Finn is the founding director of the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, where he is an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English. Ed’s research and teaching explore digital narratives, contemporary culture and the intersection of the humanities, arts and sciences. He is the co-editor of Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future (William Morrow, September 2014) and is currently working on a book about the changing nature of reading and writing in the age of algorithms. He completed his PhD in English and American literature at Stanford University in 2011. Before graduate school Ed worked as a journalist at Time, Slate and Popular Science. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Princeton University in 2002 with a Comparative Literature major and certificates in Applications of Computing, Creative Writing and European Cultural Studies.



October 16 (6pm - 7:30pm)
Carleen Cullen: Warming the Bench

Climate science tells us that our climate is changing. The question is, why aren’t we? Research shows that more than half of all Americans believe in anthropogenic climate change yet energy consumption remains high and introducing sustainable solutions has been limited. Every good coach knows that the players on the bench need to be ready too-we need to warm the bench and get civil scientists into the game. In this talk, Cullen looks at commercial and behavioral science approaches, highlighting opportunities to engage the American public in their personal actions reducing energy usage, building green markets, and shifting legislative thinking.

Bio »

Carleen Cullen is founder and executive director of Cool the Earth, a non-profit organization embracing a child-led approach to engaging American families in climate action. To date, the organization has reached 200,000 kids and their families and inspired 300,000 actions to reduce the family’s carbon footprint. Carleen is the creator of Cool the Earth’s new game-for-change platform, securing a seed grant from the MacArthur Foundation and garnering a commitment from Apple to feature CTE’s new climate app for Earth Day 2015. Prior to CTE, Carleen was part of the start up team at Ovid Technologies, a leader in medical information. She helped grow the company to over 300 employees in 5 countries, take the company public and sell the business in 1998.

November 13th (6pm - 7:30pm)
Peter H. Gleick: The Future of Water for California and the World

Challenges around access to safe, sufficient, and affordable freshwater are growing around the world as populations increase, economies expand, and our climate changes. Hundreds of millions of people still lack access to basic water services. Billions lack access to adequate sanitation. Violent conflicts over water allocations and control are on the rise. Freshwater ecosystems are increasingly threatened and endangered. Even for a state like California, endowed with wealth, unsurpassed intellectual resources, and – by some measures plenty of water – our fights over water are legion. With unprecedented recent droughts, new environmental threats, and ongoing political discord, it is appropriate to ask: What will the future bring? Dr. Peter Gleick, cofounder and president of the Pacific Institute, will offer insights into our water challenges and describe new, innovative solutions. He will discuss the concept of "peak water” and the soft path for water: a path toward a sustainable, equitable, and balanced water future for California and the rest of the world.

Bio »

Dr. Peter H. Gleick is an internationally recognized environmental scientist and communicator and co-founder of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California. His work addresses the critical connections between water, energy, food, and health, the impacts of climate change, and international security and conflicts over water resources.

Dr. Gleick was named a MacArthur "genius” Fellow in 2003. In 2001, Gleick was dubbed a "visionary on the environment" by the BBC. In 2006 Dr. Gleick was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. In 2008, Wired Magazine named him "one of 15 people the next President should listen to.” His work has redefined water from the realm of engineers to the world of sustainability, human rights, and integrated thinking. His influence on the field of water has been long and deep: he developed one of the earliest assessments of the impacts of climate change on water resources, defined and explored the links between water and international security, and developed a comprehensive argument in favor of basic human needs for water and the human right to water – work used by the UN and in human rights court cases.

Gleick received a B.S. in Engineering and Applied Science from Yale University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the Energy and Resources Group of the University of California, Berkeley. He serves on the boards of numerous journals and organizations, and is the author/editor of many scientific papers and ten books, including Bottled & Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water and the biennial water report, The World's Water, published by Island Press (Washington, D.C.).

Past Speakers


  • Will Wright
    Game Designer & Creator of Sim City
  • Tom Atchison
    Founder & Chairman, Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation
  • Carl Haber
    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Physicist
    and MacArthur Genius Award Winner
  • Edward Moses
    Director of Fusion Science and Applications Research,
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Alexander Rose
    Executive Director of Long Now Foundation and Clock Project Manager
  • Ray Jayawardhana
    Author and Professor of Observational Astrophysics


  • Jim Capobianco, Derek Thompson & Kevin O'Brien
    Pixar Animation Studios
  • Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon
  • Dr. Alex Filippenko
  • John Romero & Brenda Brathwaite Romero
    Game Designers
  • Robert Weiss
    President of Xprize & Entertainment Movie Producer


  • Brian David Johnson
    Author and FutureCaster at Intel
  • Ben Burtt
    Sound Director, Designer & Engineer for LucasFilms/Pixar
  • Bill Nye the Climate Guy
    Scientist, Engineer, Comedian, Author, and Inventor
  • Ray Jayawardhana
    Author and Professor of Observational Astrophysics


  • Dr. Michio Kaku
    Bestselling Author and Popularizer of Science
  • Mary Roach
    Columnist and Popular Science Writer and Author
  • Bill McKibben
    American Environmentalist and Writer
  • Al Worden
    Apollo 15 Astronaut