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The great achievements in the Age of Reason were based on disproving Aristotle, yet it is no accident that the names of most of the sciences are of Greek origin.   Just like learning to walk, the first steps in creating science were the hardest.   Those steps were to establish science on a rational basis.  And just like a toddler walking, there some surprising achievements along the way, with a few bizarre missteps.   But the beauty of science is that it is based on experiment and observation, so that wrong theories are eventually cast aside.   In this way the Greeks jump-started science on its ever-rapidly advancing journey.  In this lecture, Dr. Matsakis will take us to a fascinating tour of Greek scientific achievements, from Astronomy and Physics to Medicine and the ‘soft sciences”, discussing along the way the advances that Greek scientists made towards understanding the complexity of our world.  As the “Keeper of Time” in the US Naval Observatory, Dr. Matsakis will also talk about his own career, which went from observing the end of the observable universe to the interior dynamics of atoms, the latter for the purpose of measuring time, so that, as he puts it, “our GPS will help us find our way to UMSL”!

Dr. Demetrios Matsakis is a Saint Louis boy who got his undergraduate degree from MIT and his graduate degree doing astrophysics at UC Berkeley, where he studied under Nobel Laureate Charles Townes, who invented the laser.  His thesis involved observing ammonia, water, and alcohol in the clouds where stars are born, and he continued this while working at the U.S. Naval Observatory, which hired him to observe quasars for the purpose of measuring the variable rotation of the Earth.  In the late 1980’s he was asked to find out why a new kind of atomic clock wasn’t working right, and he has since worked on almost every aspect of precise timekeeping.  For sixteen years he ran the US Naval Observatory’s Time Service Department, which sets the time for GPS and therefore for most of the world.  He has represented the United States in Paris and Geneva, won numerous awards, given many lectures to the general public, and published over 170 scientific papers, including tests of Einstein’s relativity theory.  He has published one book on modern timekeeping and secured one patent.  He also published five short stories that are admittedly science fiction.

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