Geeking Out at the World Science Festival

20130602-202951.jpgOne of my favorite annual traditions in New York City is the World Science Festival. It started in 2008 to bring science to the general public. Over several days in late May to early June there are several talks and demonstrations from leading scientists all over the world. While the talks do cost something, many events are free and you can watch many of the talks for free online.

Ben and I attended three talks (The Whispering Mind: The Enduring Conundrum of Consciousness, Spooky Action: The Drama of Quantum Mechanics, and Brains on Trial: Neuroscience and Law). The first and third talk had a panel of various experts and a moderator who have a discussion about that particular topic. In the talk about consciousness, I found Christof Koch, a neuroscientist, an absolute delight. Dressed in orange and with a booming voice, he was difficult to ignore. He was full of quips; my favorite was, “No brain, never mind,” when talking about the relationship of the mind and body. Alan Alda was the moderator for Brains on Trial and he was fantastic. He was really funny and asked great questions. Spooky Action was a bit different because Brian Greene, physicist from Columbia University, was more like a theater piece. Greene gave the history of quantum mechanics with a few actors who would come on stage and say a few lines to portray different scientists, such as Albert Einstein, and Niels Bohr. The talks were fascinating and informative.

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Whispering Minds

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Brains on Trial

Ben and I finished our nerdy weekend by seeing Tesla, a play about Nikola Tesla, his inventions, and his relationships with Thomas Edison, JP Morgan, and George Westinghouse. I found the structure of the play a bit odd (an older Tesla looking back and commenting on the younger Tesla; Marconi, the inventor of the radio, appearing on stage once in a while and not interacting with anyone except to talk about how he invented the radio; a brief suggestion of mutual attraction toward a wife of a friend). Ben quite enjoyed the play. I had found an online deal, so we got our seats for $9 ($12.50 with the service charge). Cheapest theater seats that I’ve ever gotten. I love Theater80, which is a small independent theater in the East Village. It seats about a few hundred people, so every seat is a great seat and has a small bar, which makes terrific Breton crepes. I believe in supporting these independent theaters, so I look forward to attending more plays there.

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