FFFFFF-0

The 2011 World Science Festival took place on June 1-June 5 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.

2011 World Science Festival Programs

street_fair

Date:
Time: 12:59 PM-08:59 PM
Venue: Washington Square Park

The Washington Square Park area was transformed into a science wonderland when the World Science Festival Youth and Family Street Fair returned to New York City on Sunday, June 5, 2011. This year’s extravaganza featured a non-stop program of interactive exhibits, experiments, games, and shows designed to entertain and inspire. Some highlights of this year’s Fair included:

Check out the map »

holographic_world

Date: Friday June 3, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
Moderator: John Hockenberry
Participants: Gerard ’t Hooft, Leonard Susskind, Raphael Bousso, Herman Verlinde

What we touch. What we smell. What we feel. They’re all part of our reality. But what if life as we know it reflects only one side of the full story? Some of the world’s leading physicists think that this may be the case. They believe that our reality is a projection—sort of like a hologram—of laws and processes that exist on a thin surface surrounding us at the edge of the universe. Although the notion seems outlandish, it’s a long-standing theory that initially emerged years ago from scientists studying black holes; recently, a breakthrough in string theory propelled the idea into the mainstream of physics. What took place was an intriguing discussion on the cutting-edge results that may just change the way we view reality.

On the Blog: Space Is an Elaborate Illusion

More videos from this series: A Thin Sheet of Reality

This program was part of The Big Ideas Series, made possible with the support of the John Templeton Foundation.

all_aboard_the_mystic_whaler2

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 03:30 PM-06:00 PM
Venue: Yankee Pier, Governors Island

Folksinger Pete Seeger founded Clearwater over 40 years ago to teach people about the ecology and special heritage of the Hudson River. Join Clearwater educators to raise the sails on the schooner Mystic Whaler, set your course using charts and compass, and set off to to explore the Hudson as a citizen scientist. Identify the amazing variety of fish and invertebrates living beneath the waves; sample plankton; perform basic water quality tests; and learn about environmental issues impacting this important ecosystem. Enjoy sailing on-board a tall ship, sing some traditional sea songs, and enjoy a day of science on the Harbor that you’ll never forget. As part of the World Science Festival's all-day Science on Site
on Governors Island. For directions and ferry information, click HERE.

mystic_whaler

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 11:00 AM-01:30 PM
Venue: Yankee Pier, Governors Island

Folksinger Pete Seeger founded Clearwater over 40 years ago to teach people about the ecology and special heritage of the Hudson River. Join Clearwater educators to raise the sails on the schooner Mystic Whaler, set your course using charts and compass, and set off to to explore the Hudson as a citizen scientist. Identify the amazing variety of fish and invertebrates living beneath the waves; sample plankton; perform basic water quality tests; and learn about environmental issues impacting this important ecosystem. Enjoy sailing on-board a tall ship, sing some traditional sea songs, and enjoy a day of science on the Harbor that you’ll never forget. As part of the World Science Festival's all-day Science on Site
on Governors Island. For directions and ferry information, click HERE.

another_earth

Date: Friday June 3, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-10:00 PM
Venue: Museum of the Moving Image
Moderator: Faith Salie
Participants: Mike Cahill, Brit Marling, Brian Greene

It is the eve of the discovery of a duplicate Earth. Tragedy strikes, and the lives of two strangers become irrevocably intertwined. But when one of them is presented with the opportunity to travel to the other Earth and embrace an alternate reality, which path will she choose? Can the mistakes made on our Earth be undone, or will they also be made on the other? We hosted a special preview screening of the much-anticipated Fox Searchlight film Another Earth—recipient of this year’s Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film and the Special Jury Prize at Sundance - 2011. A post screening discussion then explored the art and the science of parallel universes.

Presented in collaboration with the Museum of the Moving Image

This program was supported by the Alfred P Sloan Foundation as part of its Public Understanding of Science and Technology initiatives.

genius

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
Moderator: Brian Greene
Participants: R. Douglas Fields, Philip Glass, Rex Jung, Dean Keith Simonton, Julie Taymor

Immanuel Kant, who coined the term genius in the 1700s, defined it as the rare capacity to independently understand concepts that would normally have to be taught by another person. Since then, the spectrum of abilities that we call genius has widened, but pivotal questions remain: What exactly is genius? Where do the remarkable abilities of genius come from? Is genius something that lives within all of us, or is it a categorically different way of seeing the world that is bestowed upon only a few? With the emergence of new imaging technologies and a fundamental shift in the understanding of how information is spread through our brains, we're beginning to find some answers. We joined neuroscientists, psychologists, renowned thinkers, and special performers as they untangled the complicated nature of genius, creativity, and exceptionality.

On the blog: The Other Brain of Genius

This program was part of The Big Ideas Series, made possible with the support of the John Templeton Foundation.

biorhythm_thursday

Date: Thursday June 2, 2011
Time: 12:00 PM-06:00 PM
Venue: Eyebeam Art + Technology Center

World Science Festival presents the US debut of the exhibition BIORHYTHM: Music and the Body from Science Gallery Dublin. Why does a minor chord sound sad? Is there a formula for the perfect hit? Whistling, dancing, finger-snapping, and toe-tapping—what makes us do it? Find out when music and science join forces in an interactive bazaar of beats, sounds, and rhythm in this new exhibition called BIORHYTHM. Learn what drives sound manipulation and discover how different types of music evoke different emotions. Trace the power of an impactful pop hook in a song, measuring the way our brains and bodies react, down to the responses in our fingertips. Watch the video BIORHYTHM, as part of the World Science Festival, is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 12 noon until 6:00 PM, with an opening reception Friday evening 6-9PM. BIORHYTHM at the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center is made possible through the generous support of Imagine Ireland, an initiative of Culture Ireland, and the Cordover Family Foundation. BIORHYTHM is created by Science Gallery and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Friday, June 3rd | 6:00 PM
WSF + BIORHYTHM Opening Reception Saturday, June 4th | 2:00 PM
Music, Memory, and Emotion

biorhythm

Date: Thursday June 2, 2011
Time: 12:00 PM-06:00 PM
Venue: Eyebeam Art + Technology Center

World Science Festival presents the US debut of the exhibition BIORHYTHM: Music and the Body from Science Gallery Dublin.

Why does a minor chord sound sad? Is there a formula for the perfect hit? Whistling, dancing, finger-snapping, and toe-tapping—what makes us do it? Find out when music and science join forces in an interactive bazaar of beats, sounds, and rhythm in this new exhibition called BIORHYTHM. Learn what drives sound manipulation and discover how different types of music evoke different emotions. Trace the power of an impactful pop hook in a song, measuring the way our brains and bodies react, down to the responses in our fingertips.

BIORHYTHM runs through August 6 at Eyebeam in NYC; the exhibit is open Tuesday–Saturday from noon to 6 PM

Watch the video from the WSF opening weekend

BIORHYTHM, in collaboration with the World Science Festival, is made possible through the generous support of Imagine Ireland, an initiative of Culture Ireland, and the Cordover Family Foundation. BIORHYTHM is created by Science Gallery and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

biorhythm_reception

Date: Friday June 3, 2011
Time: 12:00 PM-09:00 PM
Venue: Eyebeam Art + Technology Center
Participants: Chesney Snow, The Theremin Inspectors, Sonic Bed, Optofonica Capsule, Stone Forest Ensemble

World Science Festival presents the US debut of the exhibition BIORHYTHM: Music and the Body from Science Gallery Dublin.

Why does a minor chord sound sad? Is there a formula for the perfect hit? Whistling, dancing, finger-snapping, and toe-tapping—what makes us do it? Find out when music and science join forces in an interactive bazaar of beats, sounds, and rhythm in this new exhibition called BIORHYTHM. Learn what drives sound manipulation and discover how different types of music evoke different emotions. Trace the power of an impactful pop hook in a song, measuring the way our brains and bodies react, down to the responses in our fingertips.

More about BIORHYTHM

Join us from 6–9 pm as we kick-off our three-day engagement with BIORHYTHM. Festivities include one-on-one interactions with select artists and installations, as well as a live interactive performance featuring NYC beat boxer Chesney Snow and the Stone Forest Ensemble. During the performance, members of SARC (Sonic Arts Research Centre) Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, will guide the audience through a sound experiment using physical energy generated by audience interactions and touch.

Note: The gallery will be open 12 noon to 6 pm before the opening. BIORHYTHM at the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center is made possible through the generous support of Imagine Ireland, an initiative of Culture Ireland, and the Cordover Family Foundation. BIORHYTHM is created by Science Gallery and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

cancer

Date: Thursday June 2, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium
Moderator: Richard Besser
Participants: Mary-Claire King, Eric Lander, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Olufunmilayo Olopade

The deadly scourge of cancer has confounded doctors since ancient Egypt. Now, The Cancer Genome Atlas (modeled after the Human Genome Project) promises a new and powerful approach in this age-old battle. We joined a discussion including Eric Lander, Mary-Claire King and other leaders in the field as they described how and why the balance of power in the war on cancer may finally be shifting.

Related WSF Salon: Genetics and Cancer

More from this series: Cancer's Last Stand

science_at_the_met

When Antoine Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry, was beheaded during the French Revolution, he left behind a widow whom history has overlooked. Two Nobel prize-winning scientists and an art historian share a passion for a beguiling portrait of the Lavoisiers by Jacques-Louis David, painted just 6 years before the famed chemist was led to the guillotine. They're not alone in this passion; the work now presides over a gallery at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. What is it about this depiction of the Lavoisiers that captures the imagination of both scientists and art lovers? A conversation among two esteemed scientists, both savvy politicians, and an art historian from the Met. The three explored their infatuation with this portrait and revealed all that is hinted at on the canvas—and all that is not.

Presented in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art

cool_jobs_2011

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 02:00 PM-03:30 PM
Venue: NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
Moderator: Baba Brinkman
Participants: Beth Shapiro, Heather Knight, Mark Moffett, Nate Ball

Imagine hanging out with some of the world’s kookiest critters in the jungle’s tallest trees, building a robot that does stand-up comedy, inventing a device that propels you into the air like Batman, or traveling back in a DNA time machine to study ancient animals! We met the scientists who make it possible. They included ecologist and explorer Mark Moffett, aka “Dr. Bugs,” roboticist Heather Knight, mechanical engineer and daredevil Nathan Ball, and evolutionary biologist Beth Shapiro. We found out what they do, how they do it, and how they got the coolest and weirdest jobs on the planet.

 

longevity

Date: Thursday June 2, 2011
Time: 07:30 PM-09:00 PM
Venue: The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
Moderator: Bill Ritter
Participants: Leonard Guarente, Judith Campisi, Michael Rose, Aubrey de Grey

Getting old is an unavoidable truth of life. And yet, for most of modern history this mortal coil has baffled scientists. Over the past decade, however, researchers have made great strides in understanding the cellular, molecular, and genetic tableau of aging—which has brought the next question into sharp focus: Can aging be stopped? While a full answer remains elusive, recent advancements have opened the door for significantly extending the human lifespan. One controversial researcher even claims that the first person who will live 1,000 years has already been born. Mainstream researchers are decidedly more cautious in their predictions, but the prospect of postponing mortality, even in modest ways, raises important ethical, social, and practical questions. How would we control an increasingly out-of-control global population? Does life have meaning without death? Even if we could live forever, would we want to?

On the Blog: The Great Escape: Science’s Oldest Dream

stargazing

Date: Friday June 3, 2011
Time: 08:30 PM-12:00 AM
Venue: Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 1
Participants: Charles Liu, Timothy Ferris, Carter Emmart, Patrick Billard

Join professional and amateur astronomers for a free evening of urban stargazing. An outdoor party beneath the Brooklyn Bridge and the twinkling canvas of the night sky, it will be a night to explore and discover the vast wonders of the cosmos. Bring your telescope if you have one, or use one of the dozens we’ll have on hand. Or crawl under the night canvas of the Discovery Dome, an HD curved projection theater featuring asteroids, the solar system, and future space technologies for living on the moon and beyond. Bring a blanket, grab a tasty street bite and a glass of wine from the area food trucks, and space out to the cosmic beats of DJ Duckcomb (from the band Trap.Avoid) as we look to the stars together and imagine the worlds beyond.

Amateur Astronomers: Please click HERE to pre-register your telescope specs in order to ensure proper support. All others: No need to register; see you there!

illuminating_light

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 06:00 PM-07:30 PM
Venue: American Museum of Natural History
Moderator: Josh Zepps
Participants: Carter Emmart, Joy Hirsch

The wildly dancing beams of color and shape of The Joshua Light Show provided a spectacular jumping off point for exploring the nature of light and how we interact with it. Following the light show, we traveled through time with Carter Emmart, director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium, racing along with a photon—a particle of light—as it sped from the edge of the universe to the back of your eye. Then joined neuroscientist Joy Hirsch, co-curator of the Museum's current exhibition, Brain: The Inside Story, as she followed light’s journey through your eye to the cascade of activity it generates in your brain. Kids and families were invited to examine light at the speed of thought.

Presented in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History

improvising_science

Date: Thursday January 1, 1970
Time: 02:00 PM-03:15 PM
Venue: Paley Center for Media
Host: Alan Alda

What happens when scientists try a short course of training in improvisation? Actor-director-writer Alan Alda, who has interviewed hundreds of scientists from around the world in his role as host of the Emmy-award winning PBS series Scientific American Frontiers, is leading an effort to teach improvisational techniques to scientists, (developed at Stony Brook University’s Center for Communicating Science.) The goal is not to turn scientists into actors, pretending to be what they're not, but to bring about greater authenticity, clarity, and personal presence. The exercises help scientists communicate with a warmth and lucidity that makes their work more understandable to a lay audience and to colleagues across other disciplines.

cracking_cryptography

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 03:00 PM-04:30 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium
Moderator: Josh Zepps
Participants: Brian Snow, Simon Singh, Orr Dunkelman, Tal Rabin

Since the earliest days of communication, clever minds have devised methods for enciphering messages to shield them from prying eyes. Today, cryptography has moved beyond the realm of dilettantes and soldiers to become a sophisticated scientific art—combining mathematics, physics, computer science, and electrical engineering. It not only protects messages, but it also safeguards our privacy. From email to banking transactions, modern cryptography is used everywhere. But does it really protect us? What took place was a discussion of cryptography’s far-reaching influence throughout history (from Julius Caesar’s reign to Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks), and the ways in which it—and our privacy—are constantly under assault today as threats lurk behind IP addresses, computational power increases, and our secrets move online.

More from this series: Keeping Secrets

artificial_intelligence

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
Moderator: Faith Salie
Participants: Hod Lipson, David Ferrucci, Eric Horvitz, Alison Brooks

In recent years, machines have grown increasingly capable of listening, communicating, and learning—transforming the way they collaborate with us, and significantly impacting our economy, health, and daily routines. Who, or what, are these thinking machines? As we teach them to become more sophisticated, how will they complement our lives? What will separate their ways of thinking from ours? And what happens when these machines understand data, concepts, and behaviors too big or impenetrable for humans to grasp? We were joined by IBM’s WATSON, the computer Jeopardy! champion, along with leading roboticists and computer scientists, to explore the thinking machines of today and the possibilities to come in the not-too-distant future.

Watch videos from this event now

mathemagician_2011

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 11:00 AM-12:00 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium
Participants: Arthur Benjamin

Join us for a truly amazing presentation of mental mathematical gymnastics that will seemingly turn math into magic. We watched as mathemagician and math whiz Arthur Benjamin “out-calculated” an electronic calculator and figured out the weekday of any date in history with lightning-fast speed. We discovered the fun side of math that’s sometimes easy to forget when doing your homework, and met a surprising young guest who just might be a worthy mathemagical opponent.

The Mathemagician event was followed by Mathemagician's Apprentice, a workshop in which Benjamin divulged some of his amazing mental-math secrets. For ages 10 and up.

mathemagicians_apprentice

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 12:15 PM-01:15 PM
Venue: NYU, Kimmel Center Room 914
Participants: Arthur Benjamin

This exclusive event followed the main Mathemagician program. A workshop in which the Mathemagician divulged some of his amazing mental-math secrets, the Apprentice was a rare opportunity to get one-on-one instruction form the legendary math whizz.

music_and_the_mind

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: Great Hall of the Cooper Union
Moderator: John Schaefer
Participants: Pat Metheny, Jamshed Bharucha, Charles Limb, Aaron Berkowitz, Gary Marcus

Music. Improvisation. Spontaneous creativity. How does the brain do it? In the world of improvised music, eighteen-time Grammy award-winning jazz guitarist Pat Metheny is a legend. We took a live tour of his masterful musical mind at work as he performed and engaged in discussion with leading scientists who are also all musicians—Jamshed Bharucha, whose research in cognitive psychology and neuroscience will serve to explore the biological centers of creativity; Charles Limb, an otolaryngologist, surgeon, and neuroscientist who uses fMRI to study musicians while they improvise; Gary Marcus, a developmental psychologist who taught himself to play guitar at age 40 in order to examine the process of learning music; and Aaron Berkowitz, author of The Improvising Mind: Cognition and Creativity in the Musical Moment. Through performance and conversation, the program explored the neurological processes underlying improvisation and what they tell us about human creativity and the structure of the brain.

the_mathematical_universe

Date: Friday June 3, 2011
Time: 07:00 PM-08:30 PM
Venue: Tishman Auditorium at The New School
Moderator: Robert Krulwich
Participants: Jonathan Borwein, Keith Devlin, Marcus du Sautoy, Simon Singh

Mathematical mysteries have challenged humanity’s most powerful thinkers and inspired passionate, lifelong obsessions in search of answers. From the strangeness of prime numbers and the nature of infinity, to the turbulent flow of fluids and the geometry of hyperspace, mathematics is our most potent tool for revealing immutable truths. The event was a vibrant tour to the boundaries of the mathematical universe, and explore the deep puzzles that have been solved, the masterminds who powered the breakthroughs, and the towering challenges that have shaken the confidence of some of today’s most accomplished mathematicians—even as they enlist new ways to pursue mathematical truths.

On the Blog: Why I Became a Mathematician

This program was part of The Big Ideas Series, made possible with the support of the John Templeton Foundation.

on_the_shoulders_of_giants

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 01:00 PM-02:00 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Rosenthal Pavilion
Participants: Steven Weinberg

Each generation benefits from the insights and discoveries of those who came before. "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants," wrote Isaac Newton. In a new annual series, World Science Festival audiences are invited to stand on the shoulders of modern-day giants. For this year's inaugural address, "The future of Big Science," Nobel laureate and physicist Steven Weinberg considers the future of fundamental physics, especially as funding for basic research is reduced. Weinberg will explore physics' small origins, starting with the discovery of the atomic nucleus 100 years ago by a single scientist, and moving to the present-day, when collaborations involve hundreds of researchers and billions of dollars. What has motivated this growth spurt? What results has it yielded? And what would we stand to lose if Big Science were to suffer? Weinberg, one of the most revered voices in science, offers a distinguished vantage point for this crucial discussion.

pioneers_in_science

Date: Thursday June 2, 2011
Time: 09:00 AM-12:00 PM
Venue: NYU Shimkin Hall
Moderator: Josh Tenenbaum
Participants: Eric Lander, Mary-Claire King

Pioneers in Science is an annual program that gives middle and high school students the rare opportunity to interact with world-renowned scientists. In this installment, groundbreaking geneticists and humanitarians Eric Lander and Mary-Claire King met live and online with local New York City high school students and others from around the globe. During the weeks leading up to the event, invited students from various schools immersed themselves in the work of these pioneering scientists. In partnership with the Global Nomads Group, the program offered students the unique opportunity to learn about the lives and follow in the footsteps of trailblazing scientists.

rebooting_the_cosmos

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium
Moderator: John Hockenberry
Participants: Edward Fredkin, Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara, Jürgen Schmidhuber, Seth Lloyd

As computers become progressively faster and more powerful, they’ve gained the impressive capacity to simulate increasingly realistic environments. Which raises a question familiar to aficionados of The Matrix—might life and the world as we know it be a simulation on a super advanced computer? “Digital physicists” have developed this idea well beyond the sci-fi possibilities, suggesting a new scientific paradigm in which computation is not just a tool for approximating reality, but is also the basis of reality itself. In place of elementary particles, think bits; in place of fundamental laws of physics, think computer algorithms. But is this a viable approach? Is the universe the ultimate computer running some grand cosmic code? A discussion among the brightest minds in digital physics to explore math, computer science, theories of consciousness, the origin of life, and free will—and delve into a world of information that may underlie everything.
More from this series: Rebooting the Cosmos

the_articulate_hand

Date: Friday June 3, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: Galapagos Art Space
Moderator: Stuart Firestein
Participants: Andrew Dawson, Adam Cole, Kodi Azari

Through both art and science, explore the remarkable connection between mind, brain, and body. Based on his collaboration with neurophysiologist Jonathan Cole, performance artist Andrew Dawson presents The Articulate Hand, a media-rich, on-stage portrayal of patients whose peculiar impairments—physiological and neurological—provide stunning insights into just how we humans are wired, and how adaptable that wiring may be. Dawson and Cole will be joined in a post-performance conversation by plastic surgeon Kodi Azari, whose groundbreaking work with hand transplant patients offers complementary insights into how the brain copes with dramatic and traumatic bodily changes. Please note new starting time of 8 PM.

biorhythm_saturday

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 02:00 PM-03:00 PM
Venue: Eyebeam Art + Technology Center
Moderator: Joe Levy
Participants: Dave (Sluggo) Katz, Joseph LeDoux, John Leventhal

What makes us dance? Why do we sing the blues? Could there be a formula for the perfect hit? Whether it’s a pop song or country ballad, musicians and record producers want to capture listeners; individual styles may vary but they’re all searching for just the right lyric, melody, or seductive guitar chord. A few manage to turn out hit after hit – “hooking” our brains with irresistible beats. These songs become part of our collective identity. Years may pass, but as we all know, a song has the power to rekindle memories and emotions long forgotten. Can science illuminate why we respond the way we do?

As part of the BIORHYTHM: Music and the Body exhibit. Note that the gallery and installations are open to the public 12 noon to 6 PM.

BIORHYTHM at the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center is made possible through the generous support of Imagine Ireland, an initiative of Culture Ireland, and the Cordover Family Foundation. BIORHYTHM is created by Science Gallery and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

scents_and_sensibilities

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 03:00 PM-04:30 PM
Venue: Tishman Auditorium at The New School
Moderator: Juju Chang
Participants: Leslie Vosshall, Sissel Tolaas, Consuelo De Moraes, Avery Gilbert

What does fear smell like? Love? Can we use scent to control behavior? Do humans really sense pheromones? What if you could diagnose diseases just by smelling them? And exactly how does our brain convert floating organic molecules into chemical signals that our brain processes as odor? Over hundreds of thousands of years, our ancestors learned to encode specific scents with information that saved their lives. Many species still depend heavily on smell for their daily survival. Described as "the most direct pathway to the brain," olfaction is subconscious, pre-cognitive, and emotional. We were joined by neuroscientists, chemists, artists, and radical scent designers for a “scent interactive” discussion about the fascinating science of smell and how it offers a powerful window into our brains, behaviors, emotions, and communication.

On the Blog: "Smell is a secret language, a coded vernacular whispering subtle cues"

science_storytelling

Science grapples with some of the most abstract of ideas, and bringing its drama to life for a broad audience is a significant—and vital—cultural challenge. In an all-day, multisession program, the World Science Festival will explore the communication of science—on the page, on the screen, and on the stage—illuminating the process of translating science to story. Some of the foremost interpreters of science for the general public—including scientists with literary sensibilities, journalists, authors, bloggers, composers, actors, filmmakers, and dramatists—will discuss how their narrative crafts are helping to shift science to its rightful place at the cultural center.

Presented in collaboration with the Paley Center for Media

 

science_on_screen

Date: Thursday June 2, 2011
Time: 09:00 AM-10:00 AM
Venue: Paley Center for Media

Fantastic imagery and groundbreaking journalism dominate the best of documentary science storytelling. Director Louie Psihoyos’ Oscar-winning documentary The Cove (2009) stands as one of the most audacious and dangerous-to-film operations in the history of the conservation movement. NOVA’s Emergency Mine Rescue (2010) chronicled the unprecedented technological feat of rescuing 33 trapped Chilean miners. Today’s best producers of on-screen science are pushing the envelope, using a range of computer-based tools—including the highly cinematic techniques of digital science animation—to take viewers on a swooping ride through previously unseen worlds. How do these newly available techniques influence and enhance their editorial judgment? And what stories of science are left to be told?

science_on_site_full

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 10:00 AM-06:00 PM
Venue: Governors Island
Participants: Timothy Ferris, Mark Kurlansky, Dean Pesnell, Robert Naczi

Adventures await! Choose your own adventure on Governors Island and learn to see the world as scientists do! This rich outdoor environment presents a rare opportunity for urban explorers to discover the science all around us—from New York's underwater world and its oyster population, to the unique cosmopolitan critters and plants beneath our feet, to our planet's favorite star, the Sun. Join scientists and experts from a wide variety of scientific disciplines for a day of exploration that starts with a free ferry ride and ends in a world of wonder.

Check out the map »

 

science_storytellers

Date: Thursday June 2, 2011
Time: 10:15 AM-12:30 PM
Venue: Paley Center for Media

Scientists with literary sensibilities are telling extraordinary stories about their quest to understand the natural world. With consummate narrative skill, these scientist-storytellers are creating compelling works that provide broad audiences with an entryway into otherwise impenetrable scientific subjects. They were joined in this panel by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists who have ventured into strange but thrilling fields of science. Their work turns the abstract and the seminal into writing so memorable that the rest of us can embrace the science and fully appreciate it. Note: There will be a 15-minute intermission.

spotlight_women_in_science

Date: Thursday June 2, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: Galapagos Art Space
Moderator: Faith Salie
Participants: Joy Hirsch, Jean Berko Gleason, Priyamvada Natarajan, Corina Tarnita, Tal Rabin

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 science’s most visionary women. It’s a science happy hour featuring cutting edge science and one-of-a-kind talks that promise to entertain, engage, and enlighten.

science_in_print

Date: Thursday June 2, 2011
Time: 03:30 PM-04:30 PM
Venue: Paley Center for Media

A new generation of science writers is tackling issues where the repercussions of not communicating responsibly with the public have enormous policy and research implications. Meanwhile, it is the best of times and worst of times for science writing on the Web. An expanding cadre of fiercely independent, talented, and often very young science bloggers is coming to grips with a new dilemma: Just how do they fit into the changing landscape of science journalism, and to what degree are they willing to incorporate some old media standards into their new media work?

2011_opening_gala

A special reading of RADIANCE: The Passion of Marie Curie
A new play by Alan Alda

This major new work explores the deeply moving story of one of the most accomplished and revered scientists in history. In a visually enhanced production celebrating the opening night of the 2011 World Science Festival, the play soars with flights of intellectual adventure grounded in the tumultuous and all too human story of a brilliant woman's determination to experience the passion she has both for knowledge and for love.

This reading of "RADIANCE: The Passion of Marie Curie" is made possible with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

the_dark_side_of_the_universe

For all we understand about the universe, 96% of what’s out there still has scientists in the dark. Astronomical observations have established that familiar matter—atoms—accounts for only 4% of the weight of the cosmos. The rest—dark matter and dark energy—is invisible to our telescopes. But what really is this dark stuff? How do we know it’s there? And what does it do? From the formation of galaxies to the farthest reaches of space, it appears that darkness rules. Without dark matter and dark energy, the universe today and in the far future would be a completely different place. We were joined by leading researchers who smash together particles, dive into underground mines, and explore the edges of the known universe in search of clues to nature’s dark side.

Related WSF Salon: The Mystery of Dark Matter

This program was part of The Big Ideas Series, made possible with the support of the John Templeton Foundation.

coincidence_randomness

Date: Thursday June 2, 2011
Time: 07:00 PM-08:30 PM
Venue: Tishman Auditorium at The New School
Moderator: Marcus du Sautoy
Participants: Amir Aczel, Gerd Gigerenzer, Leonard Mlodinow, Josh Tenenbaum

Stuff happens. The weather forecast says it’s sunny, but you just got drenched. You got a flu shot—but you're sick in bed with the flu. Your best friend from Boston met your other best friend from San Francisco. Coincidentally. What are the odds? Risk, probability, chance, coincidence—they play a significant role in the way we make decisions about health, education, relationships, and money. But where does this data come from and what does it really mean? How does the brain find patterns and where can these patterns take us? When should we ditch the data and go with our gut? What took place was a captivating discussion that sought to demystify the chancy side of life.

More from this series: The Illusion of Certainty

This program was part of The Big Ideas Series, made possible with the support of the John Templeton Foundation.

sleep_dreams

Date: Friday June 3, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium
Moderator: Carl Zimmer
Participants: Carlos H. Schenck, Matthew Wilson, Niels Rattenborg

We spend a third of our lives asleep. Every organism on Earth—from rats to dolphins to fruit flies to microorganisms—relies on sleep for its survival, yet science is still wrestling with a fundamental question: Why does sleep exist? During Shakespeare and Cervantes' time, sleep was likened to death, with body and mind falling into a deep stillness before resurrecting each new day. In reality, sleep is a flurry of action. Trillions of neurons light up. The endocrine system kicks into overdrive. The bloodstream is flooded with a potent cocktail of critically vital hormones. Such vibrant activity begs the question: Where do we go when we go to sleep? Based on new sleep research, there are tantalizing signposts. We delved into the one-eyed, half-brained sleep of some animals; eavesdropped on dreams to understand their cognitive significance; and investigated extreme and bizarre sleeping behaviors like “sleep sex” and “sleep violence.”

 

the_moth

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 07:30 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: The Players
Moderator: Mike Daisey
Participants: Kodi Azari, Eric Lander, Janna Levin, James Fallon, Paul Hoffman, Lisa P. Jackson

Presented with New York’s innovative storytelling collective, The Moth, esteemed scientists, writers and artists tell on-stage stories about their personal relationship with science. In keeping with Moth tradition, each story must be true and told within ten minutes, without notes. The result is a poignant, hilarious, and enjoyably unpredictable evening that’s sure to intrigue and surely hard to forget.

More from The Moth series

sexuality

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: Tishman Auditorium at The New School
Moderator: Andrew Solomon
Participants: Meredith Chivers, Jim Pfaus, Paul Vasey, Marc Breedlove

Sexuality and gender play a profound role in shaping identity, but for much of human history how they are determined has remained obscure. How does sexual orientation develop? What is it? Can it be changed? What is the relationship between sexuality and gender? How do biology and culture interact to produce it? Why does homosexuality defy evolution's dictate for reproduction? The long list of questions that has spanned centuries may finally be getting answers.
See all Sexuality content

photograph_51_saturday

Date: Sunday June 5, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-10:00 PM
Venue: 3LD Art & Technology Center

In the 1950s, three labs raced to unravel the structure of DNA. Five decades after the Nobel Prize was awarded for the breakthrough, the contribution of one scientist—Rosalind Franklin—remains controversial. A riveting performance of The Ensemble Studio Theatre Production of Anna Ziegler's Photograph 51, directed by Linsay Firman, a historical drama that explored Rosalind Franklin's electrifying story. Presented in collaboration with 3-Legged Dog Media + Theater Group, created with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

photograph_51_friday

Date: Friday June 3, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-10:00 PM
Venue: 3LD Art & Technology Center
Moderator: Lynn Sherr
Participants: Anna Ziegler, Donald Caspar, James Watson, Raymond Gosling

In the 1950s, three labs raced to unravel the structure of DNA. Five decades after the Nobel Prize was awarded for the breakthrough, the contribution of one scientist—Rosalind Franklin—remains controversial. The event was a riveting performance of The Ensemble Studio Theatre Production of Anna Ziegler's Photograph 51, directed by Linsay Firman, a historical drama that explores Rosalind Franklin’s electrifying story, followed (in Friday’s performance) by a discussion among three of the men whose lives the play dramatizes—Nobel laureate James Watson, Raymond Gosling, who worked closely with Franklin at King's College and co-authored one of Franklin's 3 papers published in 'Nature' in 1953, and emeritus professor of biology Don Caspar—illuminating one of science’s most remarkable, influential, and controversial discoveries.

Presented in collaboration with 3-Legged Dog Media + Theater Group, created with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

memory

Date: Friday June 3, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
Moderator: Dan Harris
Participants: Daniel L. Schacter, Lynn Nadel, Todd Sacktor, Elizabeth Phelps

It’s the thought of your childhood home. It’s that comforting aroma you can still smell ten years later. It’s the way you define yourself. It’s your memory. Where is memory stored? How do we recall? Why do we forget? We’ll shine a light on these and many other questions about long-term memory from a molecular, psychological, and emotional perspective. The audience discovered how their long-term memories can be naturally twisted, tweaked, and changed, and how memories of the past could also help us peer into the future. We explored the bumpy road even a youthful mind sometimes travels when experiencing déjà vu, succumbing to suggestibility, or having a “senior” moment.

Related WSF Salon: Manipulating Memory: Progress and Implications

On the Blog: The Biological Mechanism That Gives Life Meaning

See all the content from this program

This program was part of The Big, the Small, and the Complex, a Series made possible with the support of The Kavli Prize.

salon_cancer

Date: Friday June 3, 2011
Time: 10:30 AM-11:30 AM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Rosenthal Pavilion
Moderator: Emily Senay
Participants: Charles Sawyers, Eric Lander, Mary-Claire King, Siddhartha Mukherjee

Cancer claims the lives of more than one half million Americans each year. Now, the end to that may come from the work of scientists that was once called misguided. Leaders in the field of genomics who have devoted themselves to preventing and curing cancer gather to discuss this important effort. As the National Cancer Institute continues developing its Cancer Genome Atlas, geneticists in laboratories around the world are stepping up their research. Here, some of the best in the field sit down to talk about how they’re doing.

Some of the advanced topics to be explored may include the differences in cancers that do and do not come from inherited genetics; the personalized treatments that genetic breakthroughs have brought; and the manipulation of DNA repair pathways to enhance the effect of chemotherapies.

World Science Festival Salons are an opportunity for in-depth conversations with world-leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s flagship public programs at a level appropriate for graduate students, postdocs, faculty and particularly well-informed members of the general public.

Related flagship program:
Cancer’s Last Stand? The Genome Solution
Learn more about all the WSF Salons

salon_memory

Date: Saturday June 4, 2011
Time: 04:30 PM-05:30 PM
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Rosenthal Pavilion
Moderator: Julie Burstein
Participants: Cristina Alberini, Adam Kolber, Joseph LeDoux, Lynn Nadel, Elizabeth Phelps, Todd Sacktor

We are our memories, but can they be tampered with? Erased? What are the ethical considerations? Whether enhancing memory for an aging population or inhibiting memories that prevent function, new drugs bring new possibilities for abuse and misuse. Even in their most welcome applications, these drugs raise profound questions about the relationship between the subjective experience of memory and the true nature of what we remember.

Some of the advanced topics which the conversation may explore include: Latest progress in memory research, including the enzyme PKMzeta and memory "erasure," infusion of the protein synthesis inhibitor anisomycin, problems of animal models in memory research, and therapeutic implications inherent in these discoveries.

World Science Festival Salons are an opportunity for in-depth conversations with world-leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s flagship public programs at a level appropriate for graduate students, postdocs, faculty and particularly well-informed members of the general public.

Related flagship program:
The Unbearable Lightness of Memory
Learn more about all the WSF Salons

This program is a part of The Big, the Small, and the Complex, a Series made possible with the support of The Kavli Prize.

salon_dark_matter

Leading researchers have called this the ‘Decade of Dark Matter,’—the era in which data finally establish the identity of the universe’s unseen matter. As results are released, what will they tell us about our current theoretical models, and the properties of dark matter? What are the plans for new detection experiments? And if no dark matter is found, what then? Are there plans for more refined experiments? Will attention turn to maverick theories that seek to explain observations without invoking dark matter?

Some of the advanced topics to be explored may include: Annual modulation signals for dark matter; reconciling the CoGeNT, DAMA, CDMS and XENON experiments; the ICECUBE and DEEPCORE experiments; possible connections between dark matter and dark energy; modified gravity approaches.

World Science Festival Salons are an opportunity for in-depth conversations with world-leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s flagship public programs at a level appropriate for graduate students, postdocs, faculty and particularly well-informed members of the general public.

Related flagship program: The Dark Side of the Universe
Learn more about all the WSF Salons