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The 2009 World Science Festival took place on June 10-June 14 in New York City. We offered a slate of exciting new programs and old favorites this year, all aimed at unlocking the beauty and complexity of science for everyone. Sign up for our newsletter to stay connected and get exclusive interviews, stories, and updates.

2009 World Science Festival Programs

traffic_from_insects_to_interstates

Date: Friday June 12, 2009
Time: 07:00 PM-08:30 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Rosenthal Pavilion
Moderator: Robert Krulwich
Participants: Anna Nagurney, Mitchell Joachim, Iain Couzin

Can marching ants, schooling fish, and herding wildebeests teach us something about the morning commute? Robert Krulwich guides this unique melding of mathematics, physics, and behavioral science as Mitchell Joachim, Anna Nagurney and Iain Couzin examine the creative and sometimes counterintuitive solutions to one of the modern world's most annoying problems.

2009_world_science_festival_street_fair

Date: Sunday June 14, 2009
Time: 10:00 AM-06:00 PM
Venue: Washington Square Park

The New York University/Washington Square Park area was a science wonderland when the World Science Festival Youth and Family Street Fair returned to New York City on Sunday, June 14. This free, day-long extravaganza showcased the intrigue and pure fun of science with a non-stop program of interactive exhibits, experiments, games, and shows, all meant to entertain and inspire.
Click here for a detailed map and schedule.

a_new_look_at_nuclear_power1

Date: Saturday June 13, 2009
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: Tishman Auditorium at The New School
Participants: Yoon Chang, James Hansen

When listing clean renewable energy sources, solar, wind, and geothermal come to mind. But thanks to new reactor technologies, there's a transformation afoot. Some of the most ardent foes of nuclear power now believe it must be a large part of the energy mix to solve the world's climate woes. Join pioneering nuclear engineer Yoon Chang and renowned climate scientist James Hansen in this exploration of the science and rationale behind giving nuclear power a second chance.

avian_einsteins

How do we learn to speak? What is the connection between language and movement? Join a broad and distinguished panel of biologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, philosophers, musicians and writers, including leading bird scientists Erich Jarvis and Irene Pepperberg, on an exploration of how striking parallels between bird and human brains are providing sharp new insights into how we acquire language and links between hearing and movement. Featuring a special appearance of Snowball, the dancing cockatoo of YouTube fame.

battlestar_galactica_cyborgs_on_the_horizon

Date: Friday June 12, 2009
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: 92nd Street Y
Moderator: Faith Salie
Participants: Hod Lipson, Kevin Warwick, Mary McDonnell, Michael Hogan

Cast members from Battlestar Galactica join leading roboticists to explore scientifically, philosophically, and ethically the approaching frontier where intelligent machines are commonplace and cybernetic technology enhances human capabilities. Featuring sneak previews from the forthcoming Battlestar special The Plan as well as live appearances by some of the show's star cylons.

bio_blitzing_in_the_boroughs

Date: Saturday June 13, 2009
Time: 12:00 PM-05:00 PM
Venue: Blitz Locations
Participants: Tyrone Hayes

New York City might be the epicenter of human diversity, but what about our biodiversity? Join us for a Bio Blitz in some of the city’s most beautiful parks and gardens. Professional naturalists and research scientists will guide urban explorers of all ages and backgrounds in a scientific inventory of the flora, fauna, fungi — and all things crawly. In honor of E.O. Wilson, pioneer of the Bio Blitz method, this event will inspire Wilson-like wonder and appreciation for the natural diversity found right in our own neighborhood.

The Bio Blitzes will be a scientific survey to catalog all of the species found at the sites. The Blitzes will be part contest (to identify as many species as possible), part educational event, and part scientific endeavor. All programs will be free with the idea of engaging families and lay-people at the community level. Other educational activities could include field explorations and interpretative walks and talks to increase the public’s awareness of the diversity of their own “backyard”.

bioblitzing_the_planet_ants_frogs_and_crawling_wonders

Date: Sunday June 14, 2009
Time: 05:00 PM-06:00 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium
Moderator: Josh Zepps
Participants: Edward O. Wilson, Mark Moffett

How do ants communicate? Are we more like them than we imagine? What is the biggest frog ever photographed? And why does it matter? Bringing Bio Blitzing in the Boroughs full circle, America's consummate naturalist E.O. Wilson and world-renowned insect scientist and photographer Mark Moffett share stories from their adventures in exploring the fascinating and surprising biodiversity of life on Earth. A lively and visually compelling conclusion to the WSF Street Fair in Washington Square Park.

carbon_conundrum_testing_earths_limits

Date: Thursday June 11, 2009
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: Greenberg Lounge, NYU Law
Moderator: Bill Ritter
Participants: Bill McKibben, David Battisti, James Hansen, Julienne Stroeve, Robert Corell, Sylvia Earle, Thomas Lovejoy

In December, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to negotiate the atmospheric level of CO2 beyond which we believe earth will fail to support life as we know it. Bill Ritter hosts a powerhouse panel including James Hansen,Thomas Lovejoy, Bill McKibben, Sylvia Earle, David Battisti and Robert Corell to probe the science and policy behind one of the most urgent debates of our times.

In anticipation of the Copenhagen summit, Robert Corell will hold a mock negotiation with the panelists showcasing C-ROADS, the real-time carbon emissions simulator designed to help audiences—and policy makers—better understand the implications of their decisions on environmental issues.

cool_jobs_2009

Date: Friday June 12, 2009
Time: 04:00 PM-05:30 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium
Moderator: Majora Carter
Participants: Dickson Despommier, Tyrone Hayes, Maurizio Seracini, Hazel Barton

This multi-media event invites curious minds of all ages to meet scientists with some of the coolest jobs out there. Join host Majora Carter to dive into remote caves with microbiologist Hazel Barton, hunt for hidden artistic treasures with Maurizio Seracini, and discover what frogs can tell us about our impact on the environment with biologist Tyrone Hayes.

da_vinci_detective

Date: Friday June 12, 2009
Time: 07:00 PM-08:30 PM
Venue: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Participants: Leonardo Bonanni, Maurizio Seracini

One of the great mysteries in the art world is the disappearance of a mural by Leonardo da Vinci. For centuries, "The Battle of Anghiari" was known as the "lost Leonardo" and believed to be destroyed. But now, using cutting-edge technology and art analysis, a bioengineer is convinced the work is hidden in the walls of the Palazzo Vecchio. 'Da Vinci Detective' Maurizio Seracini explains the technology and theories behind his quest.

This event is free with admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

diabesity

Date: Saturday June 13, 2009
Time: 07:00 PM-08:30 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium

Over 23 million Americans are living with diabetes and, while many of the disease's traumatic effects are well known, new findings suggest that "diabesity"—diabestes combined with obesity—may lead to brain impairment as well. Join Drs. John Kral, Francine Kaufman, and Antonio Convit with other leading researches as they explore the wide-ranging implication—for policy, preventions, and possibly cure—of these startling studies.

einstein_time_cool_stuff

Date: Saturday June 13, 2009
Time: 12:00 PM-01:30 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Rosenthal Pavilion
Participants: William Phillips

What is the relationship between speed and temperature? What does that have to do with making a perfect clock? Back by overwhelming popular demand, Nobel prize-winning physicist William Phillips takes audiences on a journey to the lowest temperatures ever recorded. Featuring jaw-dropping experiments, Phillips demonstrates what happens when ordinary objects are taken to the edge of absolute zero.

emily_at_the_edge_of_chaos_with_lawrence_krauss_and_janna_levin

Date: Saturday June 13, 2009
Time: 10:30 AM-11:30 AM
Venue: Baruch Performing Arts Center
Participants: Janna Levin, Lawrence Krauss, Emily Levine

In this one-woman show, join writer/comedian Emily Levine on two parallel journeys: from Newton's rational universe to the universe of chaos and from her own perfect health to mysterious, devastating illness. A surprising, thought-provoking and entertaining meditation on what the lessons of science can teach us about ourselves, followed by a conversation with physicists Lawrence Krauss and Janna Levin.

Marcia Jean Kurtz, Director. Ray Recht, Set & Lighting Designer. Developed at the Ensemble Studio Theatre as part of the EST/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Project for plays about Science & Technology

flash_of_genius_stories_of_invention

Date: Saturday June 13, 2009
Time: 03:00 PM-04:00 PM
Venue: Baruch Performing Arts Center
Moderator: Alan Alda
Participants: Hugh Herr, Dean Kamen

Alan Alda explores the nature of creative breakthroughs with innovators Dean Kamen, holder of more than 440 U.S. patents, and Hugh Herr, Director of the MIT Biomechatronics lab. The instant of inspiration can be as unpredictable as lightening, but true innovators create optimum conditions for transformative insights. What does it take to throw out conventional approaches to a problem and come up with something entirely new? Join us for a discussion about curiosity, passion, perseverance, collaboration and discovery.

Before the discussion, join Alan Alda for a screening of the film Flash of Genius, based on the true story of college professor and part-time inventor Robert Kearns’ long battle with the U.S. automobile industry to receive recognition for his ingenuity at any price.

galileo_the_starry_messenger

Date: Sunday June 14, 2009
Time: 10:30 AM-11:30 AM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium

The Starry Messenger is a dramatic fun filled adaptation of Galileo's short treatise Siderius Nuncius. Galileo (dressed in 17th century costume) has arrived at the World Science Festival to present a public lecture on his most recent discoveries made using his newly devised spyglass. As he describes his discoveries, Galileo's new method of observation and measurement of nature become apparent. Throughout the presentation the “esteemed scientists” in the audience are actively involved in experiments and demonstrations.

infinite_worlds_a_journey_through_parallel_universes

Date: Saturday June 13, 2009
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
Moderator: Robert Krulwich
Participants: Alan Guth, Brian Greene, Andrei Linde, Paul D. Miller, Nick Bostrom

The multiverse hypothesis, suggesting that our universe is but one of perhaps infinitely many, speaks to the very nature of reality. Join physicist Brian Greene, cosmologists Alan Guth and Andrei Linde, and philosopher Nick Bostrom as they discuss and debate this controversial implication of forefront research and explore its potential for redefining the cosmic order. Moderated by Robert Krulwich and featuring an original musical interlude, inspired by parallel worlds, by DJ Spooky.

This program is part of The Big Idea Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

mathemagician

Date: Saturday June 13, 2009
Time: 12:30 PM-01:30 PM
Venue: Tishman Auditorium at The New School
Participants: Arthur Benjamin

Reader's Digest has called "Mathemagician" Arthur Benjamin "America's Best Math Whiz." Returning in an encore presentation, Arthur Benjamin displays feats of mental mathematical gymnastics and shares the secrets behind his skills. A combination of math and magic, this program will captivate the entire family.

matter_stories_of_atoms_and_eves

Date: Friday June 12, 2009
Time: 07:30 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: The Players
Moderator: Andy Borowitz
Participants: Erich Jarvis, Irene Pepperberg, Paul Nurse, Paul Hoffman, Leon Lederman

Presented with New York's storytelling organization, The Moth, Nobel-prize-winning scientists, renowned writers and esteemed artists tell on-stage stories about their personal relationship with science. In keeping with Moth tradition, each story must be true and told without notes in ten minutes. The result is a poignant, hilarious, and always unpredictable evening of storytelling and science.

navigating_the_cosmos

Date: Thursday June 11, 2009
Time: 06:00 PM-07:30 PM
Venue: Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History
Moderator: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Participants: Lawrence Krauss, Evalyn Gates, Jim Gates

Created especially for the World Science Festival, this presentation allows you to experience the Hayden Planetarium's Digital Universe with an immersive, three-dimensional tour of the cosmos that will change your perspective on home. Among other renowned scientists, theoretical physicists Jim Gates and Lawrence Krauss and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P. Rose Director, Hayden Planetarium, will lead a cosmic journey to explore the surprising factors that are firing a revolution in modern cosmology.

notes_neurons_in_search_of_the_common_chorus

Date: Friday June 12, 2009
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College
Moderator: John Schaefer
Participants: Bobby McFerrin, Daniel Levitin, Jamshed Bharucha, Lawrence Parsons

Is our response to music hard-wired or culturally determined? Is the reaction to rhythm and melody universal or influenced by environment? Join host John Schaefer, scientist Daniel Levitin and musical artist Bobby McFerrin for live performances and cross cultural demonstrations to illustrate music’s note-worthy interaction with the brain and our emotions.

nothing_the_subtle_science_of_emptiness

Date: Thursday June 11, 2009
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: Tishman Auditorium at The New School
Moderator: John Hockenberry
Participants: George Ellis, Frank Wilczek, John Barrow, Paul Davies

Why is there something rather than nothing? And what does ‘nothing’ really mean? More than a philosophical musing, understanding nothing may be the key to unlocking deep mysteries of the universe, from dark energy to why particles have mass. Journalist John Hockenberry hosts Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek, esteemed cosmologist John Barrow, and leading physicists Paul Davies and George Ellis as they explore physics, philosophy and the nothing they share.

This program is part of The Big Idea Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

peak_experience

Date: Saturday June 13, 2009
Time: 07:00 PM-07:00 AM
Venue: Rubin Museum of Art
Participants: Robert Anderson

Peak Experience is the ultimate sleepover adventure for forty children, ages 9-12, as they work together to confront the challenges of climbing Mt. Everest. Led by Robert Anderson, sherpas, and some of the world's most experienced climbers, these young participants will explore the many scientific aspects of mountain climbing — from the physiological demands to the physics.

picturing_earth_the_story_of_life_in_images

Date: Friday June 12, 2009
Time: 07:00 PM-08:30 PM
Moderator: Carl Zimmer
Participants: Derek Briggs, Frans Lanting, Chris Eckstrom, Michael Novacek

Witness the power of legendary National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting’s breathtaking images of life on Earth from its earliest beginnings to its present diversity, and hear his incredible stories of how they were created. Lanting and his partner, Chris Eckstrom, present excerpts from their extraordinary multimedia project, LIFE: A Journey Through Time, and sit down for a discussion with leading paleontologists Michael Novacek (American Museum of Natural History) and Derek Briggs (Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History).

pioneers_in_science_2009

In the second installment of this World Science Festival annual event, selected New York City High School students will interview Nobel laureate and co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Harold Varmus, and preeminent marine biologist, Sylvia Earle. In these insightful interviews, youthful curiosity compels unusually candid conversations, revealing the essence of pioneering science.

Students researching Dr. Varmus conducted experiments at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Harlem DNA Lab.

portraits_of_perception_the_human_face

Date: Friday June 12, 2009
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: Baruch Performing Arts Center
Moderator: Kurt Andersen
Participants: Chuck Close, Christopher W. Tyler, Devorah Sperber, Ken Nakayama, Margaret S. Livingstone

What makes Mona Lisa's smile so intriguing? What makes Picasso's portraits so compelling? Kurt Andersen hosts artists Chuck Close and Devorah Sperber, with neuroscientists Margaret Livingstone, Chris Tyler and Ken Nakayama, as they examine the power of brain imaging technology to illuminate how we perceive the most intimate yet public of features, the human face.

rising_waters_in_a_thirsty_world

Date: Friday June 12, 2009
Time: 08:00 AM-09:30 AM
Venue: Greenberg Lounge, NYU Law
Moderator: Josh Zepps
Participants: Dickson Despommier, Billy Barlow, Radley Horton, William Solecki

Climate change and rising sea levels threaten substantial flooding and droughts worldwide. How do we avoid mass migrations, food shortages, disease and political conflict that could accompany such devastation? Join the world's foremost adaptation experts as they survey threatened regions of the planet, including New York City, and suggest strategies for changing our strained relationship with H2O.

science_faith_religion

Date: Saturday June 13, 2009
Time: 03:00 PM-04:00 PM
Venue: Tishman Auditorium at The New School
Moderator: Bill Blakemore
Participants: Colin McGinn, Kenneth Miller, Lawrence Krauss, Guy Consolmagno

Public debate, pitting atheist against believer, typically yields a polarized picture. Might a more nuanced conversation that transcends simplistic assertions, and weaves insights from physics, biology, and psychology provide a more fruitful exchange of ideas? Bill Blakemore hosts scientists Lawrence Krauss, Ken Miller and Guy Consolmagno, and philosopher Colin McGinn to find out.

surfing_the_solar_system_with_lucy_hawking

Date: Sunday June 14, 2009
Time: 11:45 AM-12:30 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium
Participants: Lucy Hawking

Lucy Hawking’s talk ‘Surfing the Solar System’ is a young person’s guide to the Solar System and the fascinating universe beyond. Lucy will discuss working with her father, Professor Stephen Hawking, on George’s Secret Key to the Universe, the children’s book that they have authored together. Discover the mysteries of physics, science and the universe in an informative and entertaining look at just what is — and isn’t — out there.

the_hudson_since_henry_a_natural_and_unnatural_history

Date: Thursday June 11, 2009
Time: 06:30 PM-08:00 PM
Moderator: Andrew Revkin
Participants: Alex Matthiessen, David Gonzalez, Elizabeth Hutchinson, Eric Sanderson, John Waldman

Celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's arrival by exploring the eponymous river's history from its pristine days, through its decline during the industrial revolution, to its heartening rebirth as an environmental success story. The program will include a special presentation by Eric Sanderson of his remarkable Mannahatta Project, a 3D computer recreation of 1609 New Amsterdam, and dramatic readings by acclaimed storyteller and poet David Gonzalez. Join New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin in a lively conversation with Riverkeeper President Alex Matthiessen and noted experts on American art history and the Hudson's rich aquatic life.

time_since_einstein

Albert Einstein shattered previous ideas about time, but left many pivotal questions unanswered: Does time have a beginning? An end? Why does it move in only one direction? Is it real, or something our minds impose on reality? Journalist John Hockenberry leads a distinguished panel, including renowned physicist Sir Roger Penrose and prominent philosopher David Albert, as they explore the nature of time.

This program is part of The Big Idea Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

time_the_familiar_stranger_mysteries_of_mind_and_time

Date: Saturday June 13, 2009
Time: 07:59 PM-09:29 PM
Venue: Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College
Moderator: Harold Evans
Participants: Daniel Gilbert, Oliver Sacks, Warren Meck

Time allows us to live in the moment, reflect on the past, plan for the future. It’s our most familiar, precious, yet mysterious commodity. Celebrated author and neurologist Oliver Sacks and psychologist Daniel Gilbert draw on converging insights from physical, biological and neurological perspectives to reflect on this most vital factor shaping the human experience.

transparent_brain_visible_thoughts

Date: Thursday June 11, 2009
Time: 07:00 PM-08:30 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Rosenthal Pavilion
Moderator: Brooke Gladstone
Participants: John Donoghue, John-Dylan Haynes, Frank Tong, Paul Root Wolpe

So you thought nobody could know what you're thinking? Well, you're right. For now. But fMRI brain research, identifying patterns linked to thoughts, is moving forward at a pace that's surprising even experts. Host Brooke Gladstone joins leading neuroscientists for a state-of-the-art tour through research that's closing in on an ability to make our thoughts visible. The program will also explore related research on brain controlled prostheses and the newly emerging field of neuroethics.

wall_es_world_designs_for_an_invisible_footprint

Date: Friday June 12, 2009
Time: 06:30 PM-08:00 PM
Venue: Museum of Arts and Design
Moderator: Carl Zimmer
Participants: Ben Schwegler, Christopher McKay, Mitchell Joachim

Beneath WALL-E’s whimsical surface lies a grown up, cautionary tale about humanity’s relationship with the environment. Carl Zimmer hosts leading scientists Mitchell Joachim, Christopher McKay and Ben Schwegler as they explore ingenious strategies for creating a sustainable future — from 'carborexic' cities made entirely from recycled trash to how the pursuit of "green" space exploration may one day help to revolutionize waste management here on Earth.

watching_wilson_and_watson_and_the_future_of_life_on_earth

Date: Thursday June 11, 2009
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
Moderator: Charlie Rose
Participants: Harold Varmus, Jane Lubchenco, Anna Deavere Smith

Hailed by Newsweek as "the most exciting individual in American theater", Actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith melds journalism and performance to create insightful one-woman vignettes depicting two of the most influential scientists of our day – Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of DNA, James Watson, and "father of biodiversity and sociobiology" E.O. Wilson. Following the performance, Charlie Rose hosts Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus and head of NOAA Jane Lubchenco in an exploration of the impact Watson and Wilson have had on modern life and how their work will profoundly shape the future.

wsf_spotlight_2009

Date: Friday June 12, 2009
Time: 05:00 PM-06:30 PM
Moderator: Emily Levine
Participants: Dominic Johnson, Frank Wilczek, Kristin Baldwin, Sean Carroll, Christopher McKay

Strip away the trimmings of a traditional science presentation, add cocktails, and you have the WSF Spotlight. An intimate, cabaret-style setting provides an unobstructed glimpse into the minds of some of the world's most inspired thinkers. It's a science happy-hour featuring cutting edge science and one-of-a-kind talks that promise to entertain, engage and enlighten.

yours_to_decide_fate_free_will_neither_or_both

Date: Saturday June 13, 2009
Time: 07:59 PM-09:29 PM
Venue: 92nd Street Y
Moderator: Paul Nurse
Participants: Daniel M. Wegner, Alfred Mele, Patrick Haggard

Do we choose our actions or are they pre-determined? Is free will real or an illusion? In this special presentation with the 92nd Street Y, Nobel laureate Paul Nurse joins psychologist Daniel Wegner, neuroscientist Patrick Haggard, and philosopher Alfred Mele for a discussion that promises to illuminate this pivotal and perplexing age-old puzzle.

This program is part of The Big Idea Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.