SSU holds 1st science symposium Tuesday

See life as a fractal.

What? See below.

Sonoma State University's School of Science and Technology on Tuesday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Green Music Center, is to hold its first science symposium to showcase high-level student research projects and the brains behind them.

At some point, SSU junior Mallory Rice, 21, is to take the stage to present her research proposal, which seeks to understand how ocean acidification causes the growth and calcification of a seaweed.

"It's such a different world than what we're used to seeing," Rice, a Santa Rosa native, said of her field, marine science.

Later on, big thinker Ransom Stephens, a science writer, a former high tech-physicist and professor, and a novelist, is to deliver the keynote speech: "Your pursuit of greatness in a technical world."

One can't know in advance, but Stephens, 51, a Petaluma resident, may move quickly to the microphone because, in an interview, that's how he spoke, swiftly delivering ideas such as "a fractal structure of challenge."

Which returns us to fractals. Stephens defines them, in the simplest terms, as something that appears the same no matter what its scale.

And by the "fractal challenge" he means: "The idea is that the structure of life is sort of a grand set of challenges but every challenge within has the same essential features.

"It helps people understand and anticipate what sorts of struggles they're going to go through and what is likely to please and disrupt them as they go out trying to do something that's really difficult," he said.

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