2010 World Science Festival Blog

Authors Anonymous

Shhhh…I have a secret.

When we send out information about the World Science Festival, the producers commonly use the phrase, "a Festival meant to engage and inspire the public about science." For me, there’s no better way to inspire than to offer the public a  chance to meet one-on-one with scientists. And I’m not talking about rushing the stage after an in-theatre program, in the hopes that you’ll be shoved to the front of the geeked-out mosh pit and win a chance to graze Leonard Mlodinow’s foot.

I’m talking about calmly and cool-ly walking up to a scientist and having the opportunity for a meaningful exchange. It seems the place to do that is at the Street Fair, and in particular, at Author’s Alley

This oft overlooked gem is an annual part of the Festival. Tucked away on the 8th floor of the NYU Kimmel Center all afternoon Sunday June 6, it offers science-lovers from ages 5 to 75 the chance to meet award-winning scientists. It’s a series of 30 minute, family-friendly, in-theater programs by individual scientists who have written books, or writers who have penned science-themed works. Each in-theater program is followed by a signing and selling, which is when you can go up and meet many of the same fabulous (and famous) people we’ve had on our stages all week. And did I mention all this is FREE? For starters …

Dr. Sylvia Earle will be joining us for an in-theatre presentation, and then she’ll retire to the next room, where the public can buy her books, get her autograph, and generally soak up the mojo of this deep-diving diva. If you could actually tire of Dr. Earle, simply shift your focus to the nearby tables. You’ll see Arthur Benjamin, known as the mathemagician. His seat will later be taken by Trekkie and leading physicist Lawrence Krauss, who’ll then be replaced by charismatic explorer and National Geographic photographer (as well as E.O. Wilson protege) Mark Moffett. He’ll be more than happy to chatter to you about ants and months spent backpacking around Asia and Africa.

If you stand in this one room for the 6 hours that it’s open, you’ll also have the chance to meet not only with these folks, but also a biological computing expert and two psychologists: one for dogs, the other for bonobos. Plus, you can personally thank Jean Marzollo for creating that book-turned-car-ride-saving-game: I SPY.

It’s true, the in-theatre programs will be geared toward a family-friendly audience (check out our Web site for specifics on ages). But I’ll tell you what: your 9-year old will be learning information about dogs that I never knew, and so you’ll probably learn something, too. As for the Author signings? That event is ageless. Scientists will be sitting there, just waiting for you to come up and talk to them. This is your chance to do more than catch their sweat as it drops into the mosh pit. This is a secret worth talking about. But maybe don’t tell everyone. I don’t want my foot to get stepped on.

—Molly Webster

Swing by Author’s Alley to step on your favorite author’s foot from 11AM until 6 PM on Sunday June 6, on the 8th floor of NYU’s Kimmel Center, on 60 Washington Square South. Molly also thinks a really cool chance to meet scientists is at the World Science Festival’s star-gazing program, on Friday June 4.

(Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk, Flickr.com)