Bryant Lake Bowl

810 W. Lake St., Mpls Open 8 am‑2am daily

Restaurant/Bowling (612) 825‑3737 Theater (612) 825‑8949


Café Scientifique

Presented by The Bell Museum of Natural History

The Bell Museum's Café Scientifique is a happy hour exchange of ideas about science, environment, and popular culture featuring experts from a variety of fields on diverse and often provocative topics.

Upcoming Performances + Tickets

April 2015

Tuesday, April 21 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Tickets: $5 - $12 sliding scale / Buy tickets
Topic + guests: TBA

Previous performances

September 2013 topic: The Short and Happy Life of a Serengeti Lion

Tuesday, September 17 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Presenter: Dr. Craig Packer

October 2013 topic: Birding for These Modern Times

Tuesday, October 15 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Sharon Stiteler is the author of three books and the enormously popular Birdchick blog. She keeps bees with Neil Gaiman (and photographs birds in his backyard,) and travels 40 weeks of the year to spy on birds all over the world. 
During one of her rare stints at home in Minnesota, and hot on the heels of a multi-week European birding trek, Stiteler will visit Café Scientifique. Her presentation will be based on her latest book, 1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know, and geared toward experienced birders as well as novices and the bird-curious alike.

November 2013 topic: Insect Behavior, Evolutionary Biology and Sexual Selection

Tuesday, November 19 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
How is it that insects, with their robotic demeanor and stripped-down biological toolbox, are able to accomplish so many of the same functions as humans? Tonight, evolutionary biologist Dr. Marlene Zuk gives us an account of the social behavior (and yes, the sex lives) of ants, crickets, bees, and other insects, illuminating the fact that many of the things we think of as setting humans apart--personality, learning, language--aren't so extraordinary after all. Marlene Zuk is a biologist and writer who recently moved from California to the Twin Cities, where she is a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. She studies sex and evolution in animals from insects to birds, and is interested in how people draw parallels between human and animal behavior. Zuk’s research has taken her around the world, in particular to Hawaii and other parts of the Pacific. Her books include Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can’t Learn About Sex from Animals; Riddled with Life: Friendly Worms, Ladybug Sex, and the Parasites that Make Us Who We Are; Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World; and Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live. She also writes for many popular outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and Natural History magazine, and has been interviewed on radio shows ranging from The Splendid Table to Fresh Air.

December 2013 topic: Animal Games: Blue Jays and the "Prisoner's Dilemma"

Tuesday, December 17 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
What do we observe when a bunch of birdbrains are compelled to play decision-making games? Dr. Stephens' research blends mathematical and experimental analyses to address a range of issues in behavioral ecology, especially feeding behavior and cooperation. Using psychological techniques and experimental games such as the Prisoner's Dilemma, the Stephens Lab at the University of Minnesota analyzes blue jay behaviors to create evolutionary models of learning, memory, decision-making, and other cognitive phenomena most often associated with the human mind.

January 2014 topic: Galaxy Formation and the Reionization of the Universe

Tuesday, January 21 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Presenter: Dr. Claudia Scarlata

February 2014 topic: The Cosmic Microwave Background: Astrophysics/Golden Age of Cosmology

Tuesday, February 18 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Presenter: Dr. Clem Pryke

March 2014 topic: Conservation Ethic in Modern Agriculture

Tuesday, March 18 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Minnesota farmer and philosopher Tony Thompson, who notably appeared in Bell Museum's Emmy award winning documentaries Troubled Waters and Minnesota: A History of the Land, will be headlining March's Café Scientifique. In acknowledgement of agriculture scientist, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and University of Minnesota alumnus Dr. Norman Borlaug's 100th birthday, Thompson will be sharing his insights into the Green Revolution "2.0", including his expert perspective on contentious industrial-scale GMO crops such as soybeans and corn, and the conservation ethic in modern technological agriculture.

April 2014 topic: Our Disappearing Bees

Tuesday, April 15 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Over the years, honey bees have faced a series of devastating problems, including a witches' brew of diseases, parasites and pesticides that together contribute to the mass honey bee die-off known as colony collapse disorder. Now, a relatively new class of insecticides that affect the central nervous system of insects is pushing the pollinator crisis to the edge, while researchers like Marla Spivak race to discover the causes and consequences of our disappearing bees. Presenter: Marla Spivak: Dr. Spivak is an entomologist and professor at the University of Minnesota, whose interest in bees began when she worked for a commercial beekeeper from New Mexico in 1975. She later completed her B.A. in Biology from Humboldt State University in northern California, and her PhD from the University of Kansas, under Dr. Orley "Chip" Taylor, in 1989. She spent two years in Costa Rica conducting her thesis research on the identification and ecology of Africanized and European honey bees. From 1989-1992 she was a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Insect Science at the University of Arizona. She began as Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota in 1993. Influenced by Martha Gilliam and Steve Taber from the USDA Bee lab in Tucson, she became interested in hygienic behavior of honey bees. This interest has expanded into studies of "social immunity", including the benefits of propolis to the immune system of honey bees, and to the health and diversity of all bee pollinators. Dr. Spivak received the prestigious "genius grant" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 2010.

September 2014 topic: Carp & Culture

Tuesday, September 16 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
The relationships between humans and carp are complex and surprisingly varied in different cultures around the world. In North America, carp are despised as ravenous invasive pests that destroy habitat for fishes, ducks and other organisms. Yet in China, Japan, Britain, and Eastern Europe, the carp is cultured for food, raised as expensive pets, revered as a symbol of perseverance and strength, sought-after as game fish, and served as a prized delicacy on the most special of occasions. Tonight, Professor Andrew Simons will discuss the biology, aquaculture, and control of carp in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, while exploring the cultural importance and symbolism of carp in art and folklore across the globe. Presenter: Andrew Simons is an Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology.  He is also Curator of Fishes in the Bell Museum of Natural History.  He is interested in the evolution of carps, minnows, and blennies, as well as the effects of Pleistocene glaciations on distribution and population structure of North American freshwater fishes. 

October 2014 topic: Einstein: The Old Sage Versus Young Turk

Tuesday, October 21 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Drawing on his work for the Einstein Papers Project and his collaborations with scholars at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin, Dr. Michel Janssen will explain, in layperson's terms, the scientific methodology behind the spectacular successes of the young Einstein (special and general relativity and early contributions to quantum theory). He will then show how some of Einstein's personal experiences during World War I played a key role in making the older Einstein adopt a very different methodology, one no longer driven by empirical data but by mathematical elegance. This Café Scientifique promises to be an entertaining mix of history, philosophy, and physics. Dr. Michel Janssen has long been interested in making the results of his research on the history and philosophy of modern physics accessible to a broader audience. A Professor in the Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Minnesota, Janssen has been offering a popular seminar called Einstein for Everyone. He is also one of the editors of The Cambridge Companion to Einstein which likewise aims at a broad audience.

November 2014 topic: The Lives and Times of Ice Age Mammoths and Mastodons

Tuesday, November 18 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Mammoths and mastodons are among the most well known species of the North American and Eurasian megafauna, and comparisons by Georges Cuvier in the early 19th century of their bones to those of the African and Asian elephants established the concept of species extinction. This talk will describe how contemporary paleontologists study the anatomy, ecology, and behavior of these emblematic fossil elephants using microscopes, isotopes, and CT scanners. David Fox’s research focuses on the roles of climate and habitat change on the evolution of ecosystems over geological timescales. His projects use the stable isotope geochemistry of sedimentary rocks, fossils, and modern animals and the morphology of teeth to reconstruct aspects of the diet of extinct mammals, including mammoths and mastodons, as well as aspects of their environment. He received his PhD in Geological Sciences from the University of Michigan in 1999 and joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 2001.

December 2014 topic: Fabricating Nature: Bringing Prehistory to Life

Tuesday, December 16 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Tim Quady, owner of Blue Rhino Studio in Eagan, will present the process of designing and fabricating museum exhibits, including huge, long-extinct creatures such as mammoths and short faced bears. Taken together, the November and December Cafes are a two-part mini-series on visioning/recreating the Pleistocene through science and art. Blue Rhino Studio specializes in interpretive design and artistic fabrication for museum, visitor center, and zoological environments. Working in a wide range of styles to create diverse exhibits that include sculpture, mural, carpentry and metal work, Blue Rhino has become a leader for artistic quality and value the industry.

January 2015 Topic: The PHAT Map: Hubble’s Legacy

Tuesday, January 20 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Andromeda’s stars, along with their ancestors and descendants (e.g., molecular clouds, HII regions, supernova remnants, etc.) can help us see and understand what galaxies are made of, providing opportunities for vast advances in the foundation on which all knowledge of the Universe is based. In 2007, the Space Telescope Science Institute asked scientists to propose “awesome, but crazy” projects that the Hubble Space Telescope could undertake as it aged – multi-year enterprises too massively complex to consider in Hubble’s earlier years – that would be just the sort of legacy the telescope ought to leave behind. University of Minnesota astrophysicist Dr. Evan Skillman will explain how the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT) fits that bill. Evan Skillman has been a Professor of Astronomy at the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics and the University of Minnesota since 1989. His research interests lie in extragalactic observational astronomy, with specialties in the chemical evolution of galaxies, structure and evolution of dwarf galaxies, HII Region abundances, star formation, cluster galaxies, and Big Bang nucleosynthesis. Dr. Skillman’s research is featured in the Bell Museum’s current exhibit.

February 2015 Topic: The Power of Poisons, feat. the Honey Badger, presented by Sharon Jansa and Danielle Drabeck

Tuesday, February 17 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Bell Museum curator of mammals Sharon Jansa and her intrepid grad student Danielle Drabeck have spent the last couple of years examining the evolution of resistance to snake venom in mammals, and are about to publish a new paper on the evolution of resistance to snake venom in honey badgers. They will introduce us to anthropological/cultural interpretations of toxins through a scientific lens, and explain how the honey badger's adaptations help researchers use biochemistry and evolutionary biology to better understand interspecific interactions and evolution itself.

March 2015 topic: Hemp's Return to Humanity, presented by Doug Fine and George Weiblen

Tuesday, March 17 at 7:00 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
Journalist Doug Fine and professor George Weiblen discuss whether hemp is the game-changing plant that’s going to feed the world and free us from fossil fuels while putting small farmers back to work. Hemp has strong fibers, nutritious seed oil and untapped potential as an alternative energy source. Fine published “Hemp Bound” in 2014, a book that has been called “a blueprint for the future of America,” and Weiblen is an expert in popular genetics, including Cannabis genetics.

Past performances

Tuesday, May 20 at 7:00 pm



Full bar and menu service
available throughout the performance