Festive Science

There’s a nice write-up about the World Science Festival in the New York Times today:

The second annual World Science Festival, a five-day extravaganza of performances, debates, celebrations and demonstrations, including an all-day street fair on Sunday in Washington Square Park, began with a star-studded gala tribute to the Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson at Lincoln Center Wednesday night. Over the next three days the curious will have to make painful choices: attend an investigation of the effects of music on the brain with a performance by Bobby McFerrin, or join a quest for a long-lost mural by Leonardo Da Vinci at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Learn about the science behind “Battlestar Galactica” with actors from the show, or head to one of various panels of scientists and philosophers arguing about free will, alternate universes, science and religion, time and what it means to be human?

On Saturday there’s a chance to play naturalist, scouring a pair of New York parks under professional guidance in what Dr. Wilson calls a “BioBlitz” for flora, fauna and “all things crawly.” On Sunday you can get your hands in a variety of experiments at the street fair, including a “CSI”-style crime scene.

Once again, it sounds pretty cool, and once again, I can’t make it, this time because Unions Commencement is Sunday, and I need to be on campus this week. Next year for sure, when I have an actual book to promote…

Of course, you could get the general announcement of the Festival from their web site. The real reason to read about it in the Times is that they’re not afraid to ask the tough questions:

In a sort of smackdown between the two, art, represented by Mr. Alda, got the better of science, represented by Dr. Greene. Challenged to explain string theory, Mr. Alda produced a serviceable explanation: the smallest entities in nature are wriggling strings that take on different identities depending on how they vibrate. But Dr. Greene was stumped when asked to hum the theme song from “M*A*S*H.”

You’ve won this round, Art, but we’ll be back!


  1. #1 Matt Leifer
    June 12, 2009

    Hmm, I just tried to hum the M*A*S*H theme myself and, although I did finally manage it, there were a few false starts where it came out as Quantum Leap.

    It’s nice to see string theory and popular culture being treated at the same level. It’s much more appealing to me than the usual comparison to classical music (see http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=2051&cpage=1#comment-48604).

  2. #2 dr. dave
    June 12, 2009

    I attended the “Science of Nothing” panel last night. It was ok… people seemed to enjoy it, but I’m not sure how much anybody LEARNED. It was pretty high on the “Gee Whiz Isn’t Physics Wacky” factor and full of puns about “learning about nothing” and the LHC “discovering nothing”… har, har.

    I was more intrigued looking around at the audience – a 50/50 mixture of run-of-the-mill nerds and NY-intellectuals-with-money.

  3. #3 Paul Husser
    November 20, 2010

    If your having trouble memorizing all this information maybe you should try online flashcards. Funnelbrain offers some of the most creative and simplistic flashcards that I’ve ever seen. They are located at http://www.funnelbrain.com give them a try and see for yourself. You will be amazed!

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