On June 2, the World Science Festival set up shop in the Polytechnic Institute of NYU’s Metrotech Plaza for the first-ever Innovation Square. Just off the beaten path, the square was turned into a futuristic carnival, complete with feats of scientific wizardry, a mechanical bird that dipped and dived overhead, and dancers whose movements explained fairly sophisticated machine learning processes. Nick Deel from the International Business Times was touring the grounds, and he spoke to a few of the demonstrators.
Among them was David Rollinson from the Biorobotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, Jin Montclare, a professor at NYU Poly, and Tel-Aviv University’s Boaz Almog, whose work in superconducting materials yielded him a thin ceramic wafer that traps itself within magnetic fields—hovering as if by magic. Calling it “quantum levitation,” it quickly became one of the most popular demonstrations at Innovation Square.
Dr. Almog said that events like the World Science Festival were necessary for getting science out of the labs and into the public sphere:
“Superconductivity has been around for 100 years and people still don’t know what a superconductor is.”
The Times also caught up with Festival Co-Founder Tracy Day, who spoke to the ability of events like Innovation Square to capture the imaginations of young and old alike.
“We recognize that every child is a scientist by nature. They want to know how things work. I have a 4 ½-year-old and a seven-year-old and they’re asking questions all day every day about the earth, about the sun, about weather. They want to know things. And then something seems to happen. Perhaps when they get to school science suddenly seems rote. It’s about memorization. And all the wonder of science is gone. And in fact children don’t often think of science as a career, because they’ve never actually met a working scientist.”
Professor Almog added, “We need to show the kids that science is fun and that we still don’t understand everything that’s going on.”