The 2015 World Science Festival took place May 27-May 31 in New York City.

 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

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Light Falls: Space, Time, and an Obsession of Einstein

PARTICIPANTS: Brian Greene, Jessica Frey, Carl Howell, Michael Winther
CREATIVE TEAM: Scott Faris, Jeff Beal, 59 Productions

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s discovery of the general theory of relativity, this original work weaves together dramatic portrayals, state-of-the-art animation and innovative projection techniques to trace Einstein’s electrifying journey toward one of the most beautiful ideas ever conceived. Brian Greene and an ensemble cast tell the dramatic story of the breakthrough moments, near misses, agonizing frustrations, and emergence into the light, as one intrepid mind took on the universe ... and won.

Directed by Scott Faris, Music by Jeff Beal, Designed by 59 Productions.

This event is sponsored in part by Winton.


Who Run the Lab?

PARTICIPANTS: Chiye Aoki, Shara Bailey, Jasna Brujic, Jane Carlton, Lara K. Mahal, Wendy Suzuki, Christine Vogel, Alexandra Zidovska

What better way to inspire the next generation of women scientists than to meet working scientists, tour their labs, and learn about their paths to exciting careers? Women in labs from anthropology, neural science, physics, and more opened their doors to NYC high school girls at universities throughout the city, including New York University, Columbia University, and CUNY’s City College. Students had the rare opportunity to experience the work of several prominent scientists as they cycled through the labs to learn about the fields, meet the scientists, and be inspired to follow in their paths.

This program was produced in collaboration with the College of Arts and Science at New York University (NYU) and the Women in Science program (WINS), Columbia University and the City College of New York.


Space Exploration: Reaching New Heights

Ever wonder how rockets launch or spacecraft land when coming back from space? Curious about the technology that gives us those spectacular images of other planets and distant stars? NASA scientists and educators at the World Science Festival gave answers to such questions through hands-on activities with infrared cameras, seltzer rockets, models of the James Webb Space Telescope, and more. Also explored at this event: future flights to Mars and other parts of the solar system and the advancements in flight and technology that will help us journey through space.


NASA Orbit Pavilion

This massive, interactive art installation featured a captivating soundscape to represent the 19 Earth Science satellites that monitor our planet’s ever-changing pulse from their unique vantage points. In addition to the sonic interpretations of this group of satellites orbiting Earth, visitors were able to view our planet through 3-D programs, and conduct hands-on activities with NASA scientists. Created by NASA in collaboration with STUDIOKCA and Shane Myrbeck.


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Spark of Genius? Awakening a Better Brain

MODERATOR: Richard Besser
PARTICIPANTS: Nita A. Farahany, Richard Haier, Michael Weisend
OPENING CREATED BY: Blanca Li

How far would you go to improve your focus, memory, or even learning ability? Would you be willing to strap on headgear that delivers electrical shocks to targeted areas of your brain? You may soon have that option. It’s called transcranial direct current stimulation, and it’s currently being tested on soldiers and used by gamers, students, and others looking for a cognitive edge. But questions linger: does it work? What are potential long-term effects? And how should it be regulated?

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

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Light Falls: Space, Time, and an Obsession of Einstein

PARTICIPANTS: Brian Greene, Jessica Frey, Carl Howell, Michael Winther
CREATIVE TEAM: Scott Faris, Jeff Beal, 59 Productions

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s discovery of the general theory of relativity, this original work weaves together dramatic portrayals, state-of-the-art animation and innovative projection techniques to trace Einstein’s electrifying journey toward one of the most beautiful ideas ever conceived. Join Brian Greene and an ensemble cast for the dramatic story of the breakthrough moments, near misses, agonizing frustrations, and emergence into the light, as one intrepid mind took on the universe ... and won.

Directed by Scott Faris, Music by Jeff Beal, Designed by 59 Productions.

This event is sponsored in part by Winton.


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Pioneers in Science: Ellen Stofan

MODERATOR: Bill Ritter
PARTICIPANT: Ellen Stofan

Great minds inspire greatness. Our Pioneers in Science programs offer high school students a path toward greatness through rare opportunities to interact with world-renowned scientists. This year, students from around the globe got to engage with NASA chief scientist and leading planetary geologist Ellen Stofan. Stofan is one of the premier experts on the terrain of Titan, Venus, Mars, and Earth. During this intimate gathering, students asked Stofan about her career, her inspirations, and NASA’s science programs.


NASA Orbit Pavilion

This massive, interactive art installation featured a captivating soundscape to represent the 19 Earth Science satellites that monitor our planet’s ever-changing pulse from their unique vantage points. In addition to the sonic interpretations of this group of satellites orbiting Earth, visitors were able to view our planet through 3-D programs, and conduct hands-on activities with NASA scientists. Created by NASA in collaboration with STUDIOKCA and Shane Myrbeck.


Space Exploration: Reaching New Heights

Ever wonder how rockets launch or spacecraft land when coming back from space? Curious about the technology that gives us those spectacular images of other planets and distant stars? NASA scientists and educators at the World Science Festival gave answers to such questions through hands-on activities with infrared cameras, seltzer rockets, models of the James Webb Space Telescope, and more. Also explored at this event: future flights to Mars and other parts of the solar system and the advancements in flight and technology that will help us journey through space.


Electric Medicine and the Brain

MODERATOR: John Rennie
PARTICIPANTS: Marom Bikson, Richard Haier, Alayar Kangarlu, Leah Moran, Tarique Perera, Michael Weisend

Does electrical stimulation to the brain hold the key to better treatment for depression, stroke, and other neurological problems? This salon took an in-depth look at the use of TMS (magnetic) and tDCS (electrical) devices. Attendees heard from a psychiatrist and a depression patient he has treated with electric stimulation, as well as from neuroscientists who demonstrated these devices and discussed what their research is telling them about the potential for treatment.

The World Science Festival's annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival's premier public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and well-informed members of the general public.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Cheers to Science: Something Old, Something Brewed

PARTICIPANTS: Sam Calagione, Patrick McGovern

Dogfish Head president and founder Sam Calagione and biomolecular archaeologist Patrick McGovern took attendees on a heady tour of New and Old World traditions of fermented beverage-making, including the possible beginnings of distillation in pre-Hispanic Mexico. At the event, the audience got to sample the pair’s first ancient ale from Turkey (Midas Touch), their recreated ancient China brew (Chateau Jiahu), and a Nordic extreme beverage (Kvasir). Calagione and McGovern also talked about hwo ancient Native Americans and their ancestors, including the Aztecs and modern peoples, likely made drinks from a host of native domesticated plants including agave, hog plum, chile, guava, maize prickly pear, as early as 10,000 years ago. “Dr. Pat” discussed his chemical analysis of double-chambered jars from the heart of Mexico’s agave country that date back to as early as 1500 B.C., which may be the earliest distillation vessels ever discovered. The attendees also tasted three modern interpretations of ancient New World beverages—all named after the Aztec god for pulque, Ometochtlin, which means “Two-Rabbit.”


The Stanford Prison Experiment: Why Ordinary People Do Terrible Things

MODERATOR: Jeffrey Toobin
PARTICIPANTS: Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Scott Atran, Dean A. Haycock, Christina Maslach

In a notorious experiment to investigate the psychology of imprisonment, Dr. Philip Zimbardo created a mock penitentiary in which student volunteers were randomly assigned to be either guard or prisoner. The film, "The Stanford Prison Experiment," is a dramatic re-creation of the study’s shocking turn of events. The participants rapidly descend into their assigned roles, with guards becoming cruel and sadistic and prisoners rebelling or sinking into despair. Zimbardo (Billy Crudup) and his team monitor the escalation of action, not realizing that they too have shed their identities and been absorbed into the experiment. After the screening, the Festival hosted a discussion exploring the film’s central question, a refrain echoing from Auschwitz to Abu Ghraib to ISIS: What insight does science provide regarding why some of us become capable of extraordinary cruelty?

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


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Science and Story: Nature’s Dramas

MODERATOR: John Hockenberry
PARTICIPANTS: Diane Ackerman, Dan Fagin, David Quammen, Rebecca Skloot, Neal Stephenson

From diseases and disasters to the miracles wrought by evolution, the environmental forces that shape our lives are the inspiration for countless science writers. This event featured five award-winning authors whose best-selling books explore the complicated interplay of science, ethics, history and social responsibility. Fiction and non-fiction—whether set in the past, present or future— both offer fascinating perspectives on our struggle with nature, and the power of science to see us through.

World Science Festival’s "Science and Story" series gathers the world’s foremost writers and thinkers to discuss how they craft stories that bring the vitality and wonder of science to life.


The Moth: It’s All Relative

MODERATOR: Nancy Giles
PARTICIPANTS: Mindy Greenstein, Mandë Holford, Michael Moss, Danielle Ofri, Ellen Stofan

In partnership with The Moth, the Peabody Award-winning storytelling collective, we brought esteemed scientists, writers and innovators to the stage to share stories of their personal relationships with science. They're tales of insight, wins and losses, and unexpected twists. In keeping with The Moth's tradition, the rules are simple: all stories are told within ten minutes, and without notes. The results are sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, and always entertaining.

Doors open at 6:30 PM.


The New Right Stuff

MODERATOR: Bill Weir
PARTICIPANTS: Jennifer Fogarty, Michael López-Alegría, Jack Stuster

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard piloted America's first manned space flight, Mercury 7. In the decades since, the bold few who followed were chosen only because they possessed the right combination of smarts, grit, and individualism—the right stuff. But now with commercial aerospace companies eyeing manned missions with private citizens paying their way, the “right stuff” is being radically revised. Besides a healthy bank account, what does it take to be a space tourist? What happens to the human body after weeks or even months living in a Space Hilton? And how should we choose those who will take a one-way journey into history, the first members of our species to live and die on another planet?

This program was produced in collaboration with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.


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To Infinity and Beyond: The Accelerating Universe

MODERATOR: Lawrence Krauss
PARTICIPANTS: Josh Frieman, Priyamvada Natarajan, Adam Riess, Jan Tauber, Neil Turok

Dark energy is cosmology's biggest mystery—an anti-gravitational force that confounds the conventional laws of physics. It makes up more than two-thirds of the cosmos, but science is still grappling to explain what dark energy actually is. In this program, top physicists search for clues to this mystery in both the earliest moments of the universe and far into the future of the cosmos.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Trivia Night at the Museum

MODERATOR: Faith Salie

Science geeks got to stretch their brains to the "limits" in an after-hours trivia night held under the famous blue whale at the American Museum of Natural History. The pub quiz-style game used the AMNH exhibition Life at the Limits as its inspiration. Television personality Faith Salie hosted this fun-filled evening.

This program was produced in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History.


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Planet of the Humans: The Leap to the Top

MODERATOR: Brian Lehrer
PARTICIPANTS: Lee Berger, Paul Bingham, Dean Falk, Steven Pinker
OPENING CREATED BY: Blanca Li

For all that Darwin contributed to our understanding of the biological world, he was haunted by one vexing question: How does the incremental process of evolution suddenly produce, say, humans—animals who walk upright, communicate through language, and possess the brainpower to travel to the moon? In this program, some of the world's leading thinkers in anthropology, linguistics, biology, and philosophy tackle this conundrum.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


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Pioneers in Science: Lee Berger

MODERATOR: Shara Bailey
PARTICIPANT: Lee Berger

Great minds inspire greatness. Our Pioneers in Science program offers high school students a path toward greatness through a rare opportunity to interact with world-renowned scientists. This year, students from around the globe got to engage with Lee Berger, one of the world's top paleoanthropologists. Professor Berger discovered an ancient skull in the Rising Star Cave in South Africa, and since then, more than 1,200 more fossils have been unearthed, contributing to our understanding of human evolution. During this intimate gathering, students had the opportunity to ask Professor Berger about his career, inspirations, and what he hopes to discover next.


NASA Orbit Pavilion

This massive, interactive art installation featured a captivating soundscape to represent the 19 Earth Science satellites that monitor our planet’s ever-changing pulse from their unique vantage points. In addition to the sonic interpretations of this group of satellites orbiting Earth, visitors were able to view our planet through 3-D programs, and conduct hands-on activities with NASA scientists. Created by NASA in collaboration with STUDIOKCA and Shane Myrbeck.


Space Exploration: Reaching New Heights

Ever wonder how rockets launch or spacecraft land when coming back from space? Curious about the technology that gives us those spectacular images of other planets and distant stars? NASA scientists and educators at the World Science Festival gave answers to such questions through hands-on activities with infrared cameras, seltzer rockets, models of the James Webb Space Telescope, and more. Also explored at this event: future flights to Mars and other parts of the solar system and the advancements in flight and technology that will help us journey through space.


Dark Energy: Measuring a Mystery

MODERATOR: Mario Livio
PARTICIPANTS: Josh Frieman, Priyamvada Natarajan, Adam Riess

Dark energy may be the most compelling problem in modern cosmology. An unexplained substance, it's believed to be the driving force behind cosmic acceleration. And yet there is no consensus on what dark energy actually is. The answer could have profound implications for our understanding of the fundamental laws of physics. This discussion focused on three cutting-edge studies of dark energy, each using radically different techniques. Adam Riess, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize for the discovery of dark energy, shared a new technique that attempts to more accurately measure the expansion rate of the universe. Priya Natarajan of Yale explained how dark matter can be used to explore dark energy. And Dark Energy Survey director Joshua Frieman delivered the very latest from his five-year study.

The World Science Festival's annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival's premier public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and well-informed members of the general public.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

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World Science U for a Day: Evolution of Mind and Matter

PARTICIPANTS: Lee Berger, Christof Koch, Alfred Mele, Adam Riess, Dimitar Sasselov

Humankind's grandest mysteries, from our accelerating universe to human consciousness were the in-class topics in this immersive live program. The curriculum, taught by some of the foremost experts in cosmology, neuroscience, anthropology, philosophy, and more, offered a curated curriculum for serious enthusiasts seeking stimulating science going beyond a popular-level presentation.


Bird Tracker’s Apprentice

PARTICIPANT: Janelle Robbins

Kids got to learn how conservationists track birds and other wildlife at the Bronx Zoo using wearable technology. Bedford Audubon Society engineer Janelle Robbins led instruction in how radio telemetry and geolocators work, what information they provide about birds, and how we use this data to protect them. Apprentices also got to come up with their own recommendations to help birds survive and thrive.

This program was produced in collaboration with the the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.


Aquatic Scientist’s Apprentice

PARTICIPANTS: Tina Walsh, Tony Wilson

Beneath the surface of New York's Hudson River, an underwater world teems with life. Brooklyn College biologist Tony Wilson and Hudson River Park educator Tina Walsh helped apprentices explore the diverse range of fish species in Hudson River Park’s waters. Kids learned about the reproductive genetics of a seahorse and observed a white perch dissection to learn more about fish anatomy.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.


Dog Behaviorist’s Apprentice

PARTICIPANT: Julie Hecht

How much do we know about our dogs? When your pooch has done something naughty, is that really a guilty look? What does it mean when a dog rolls over during play? Apprentices worked side by side with dog behaviorist Julie Hecht to observe dogs in action in Washington Square Park, and learned to take the data they collected and analyze it as a behaviorist does.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.


Genetic Engineer’s Apprentice

PARTICIPANT: Melissa Lee

There are good bacteria and bad bacteria, and at the Harlem DNA lab, there are also glow-in-the-dark bacteria. Apprentices joined biologist Melissa Lee who taught them how to take DNA from jellyfish and insert it into bacteria to create luminous microorganisms. They also toured the lab and learned about incubators, centrifuges, and DNA thermal cyclers, which help duplicate DNA.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.


Space Exploration: Reaching New Heights

Ever wonder how rockets launch or spacecraft land when coming back from space? Curious about the technology that gives us those spectacular images of other planets and distant stars? NASA scientists and educators at the World Science Festival gave answers to such questions through hands-on activities with infrared cameras, seltzer rockets, models of the James Webb Space Telescope, and more. Also explored at this event: future flights to Mars and other parts of the solar system and the advancements in flight and technology that will help us journey through space.


Biochemist’s Apprentice

PARTICIPANT: Mandë Holford

There can be a fine line between potentially fatal poisons and lifesaving medicines. Kids joined biochemist Mandë Holford, who showed how to use a microscope to spot tiny venomous critters. Apprentices also learned how to remove an animal's venom glands and run a chemical analysis to isolate harmful compounds from helpful ones.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.


Be the First to See Disney-Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’

PARTICIPANTS: Heather McKellar, Kelley Remole

The World Science Festival offered families the chance to attend the first New York City advance screening of Disney-Pixar's 2015 summer release, Inside Out.

The film takes place inside the mind of Riley, an eleven-year-old girl. Her emotions, including Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling), compete for control of Riley's mind as she struggles to adjust to a new life in a new city. Following the screening, there was a special talk about how our brains actually work led by neuroscientists Heather McKellar and Kelley Remole. Guests also got to see a real, specially-treated human brain.

Inside Out is set to open in U.S. theatres on June 19, 2015.


Nanochemist’s Apprentice

PARTICIPANT: Rein Ulijn

As any Lego builder will tell you, trying to connect really tiny items can be challenging. In this apprentice program, CUNY nanochemist Rein Ulijn took kids on a journey into the realm of the super small—the nano world. Using a process known as molecular assembly, apprentices got to mix special compounds to create gels like the ones scientists use to deliver medicines or to power electrical circuits. Then they used microscopes to see how these molecular building blocks fit together and toured a state-of-the-art lab to learn about nano fabrication tools and powerful electron microscopes.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.


Origin Stories: The History of Us

MODERATOR: Bill Blakemore
PARTICIPANTS: Lee Berger, Paul Bingham, Michael Purugganan

Solving the puzzle of how we humans developed the unique traits that separate us from our ancient ancestors is a full-time, multidisciplinary pursuit. From fossils to food cultivation to social structure, the story of human evolution is written from many angles. Attendees heard from leaders in biology, anthropology, and archaeology who search for the answer to that most basic question: what makes us, us? This discussion included the remarkable findings of paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, whose Rising Star Expedition in South Africa has discovered a treasure trove of hominin fossils.

The World Science Festival's annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival's premier public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and well-informed members of the general public.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Science and Story Café

MODERATOR: Rick Karr, John Rennie
PARTICIPANTS: Scott Barry Kaufman, Alfred Mele, Leonard Mlodinow, Steven Pinker, Bob Reiss, Laura J. Snyder, Wendy Suzuki

Top science authors mingled with attendees for coffee and conversation throughout the day.


The Great Fish Count

Across five boroughs and beyond, people of all ages pulled on a pair of waders, cast a net, and found marine life in New York’s waterways. Top ecologists and biologists helped catch, count, identify, and release the animals in NYC's swarming waters.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.

Roboticist’s Apprentice

PARTICIPANT: Maurizio Porfiri

What can robots teach us about fish? Plenty, according to NYU Polytech professor Maurizio Porfiri, who engineers robotic animals and showed apprentices how it’s done. Using a design program and a 3-D printer, kids got to create their own robotic fish. Professor Porfiri also led a tour through his lab to explain how these engineering marvels are used in science experiments with real fish.

Ages: 6th-8th grade.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.


NASA Orbit Pavilion

PARTICIPANT: Astronaut Nicole Stott

This massive, interactive art installation featured a captivating soundscape to represent the 19 Earth Science satellites that monitor our planet’s ever-changing pulse from their unique vantage points. In addition to the sonic interpretations of this group of satellites orbiting Earth, visitors were able to view our planet through 3-D programs, and conduct hands-on activities with NASA scientists. Created by NASA in collaboration with STUDIOKCA and Shane Myrbeck.


Computer Scientist’s Apprentice

PARTICIPANTS: Jake Hofman, Justin M. Rao

Whether they're making the smallest smartphone apps or the biggest search engines, computer scientists need to know more than just how to write code. They need to be able to think like a computer too. Apprentices were one of the few to get a chance to visit Microsoft's Research Lab and join researchers Jake Hofman and Justin Rao. Kids wrote their own code to predict an opponent's next move in Rock, Paper, Scissors, distinguish spam from normal emails, and learned how search engines are not really different from auction houses.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.


Neuroeconomist’s Apprentice

PARTICIPANT: Paul Glimcher

Decisions are a big part of daily life. What to eat? Go to bed or stay up late? Homework or video games? Apprentices ran an experiment with NYU neuroeconomist Paul Glimcher to determine how we arrive at these kinds of choices. Kids also predicted what risks their peers are willing to take for a potential big reward, and visited a brain-imaging center to watch a scan of an NYU student's brain.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.


Museum Scientist’s Apprentice

PARTICIPANT: Marco Leona

Scientists are busy working in labs at art museums, and in this program, apprentices got a chance to go behind the scenes with one. Kids joined Marco Leona, scientist in charge at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and learned how to make dyes from dead bugs like the Maya and Aztec civilizations did. They also used the latest scientific techniques and technologies to identify dyes in artwork over 100 years old.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.


On the Shoulders of Giants: Edward Witten

PARTICIPANT: Edward Witten

Acknowledging the scientists who blazed intellectual trails before him, Isaac Newton wrote, “If I have seen a little further it was by standing on the shoulders of giants.” In this special annual series, we invite our audience to stand on the shoulders of a modern-day giant. In 2015, we were honored to present an address by a titan of physics, Edward Witten. Professor Witten is a leading light of superstring theory and the only physicist to have won the vaunted Fields Medal, mathematics' highest honor. Known for advancing a number of novel approaches in mathematics and physics, Witten opened up new vistas in 1995 when he unified five seemingly competing superstring theories into M-theory, which seeks to unify Einstein’s general theory of relativity with quantum mechanics.


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Cool Jobs 2015

MODERATOR: “Science Bob” Pflugfelder
PARTICIPANTS: Marah Hardt, Tanya Lowe, Amber Straughn, Steve Wolf

Imagine yourself on a movie set with the special effects exploding around you, or exploring a beautiful coral reef under a deep blue sea. Maybe you'd like to be a wildlife handler, or an astronomer studying the stars. Wait—you don't have to wonder about those jobs anymore; the World Science Festival brought together the coolest scientists with the most interesting jobs on the planet.


Astronomer’s Apprentice

PARTICIPANT: Allyson Sheffield

How do we study space from Earth? Astronomer Allyson Sheffield of LaGuardia Community College answered that question with a tour of the Rutherford Observatory. Apprentices learned how to spot sunspots through the optical telescopes, then got to test out a spectrograph and try to determine elements of stars, gas clouds and more.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.


Neuroscientist’s Apprentice

PARTICIPANT: Wendy Suzuki

How brainy are you about brains? New York University neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki led students in a (very) up-close exploration of the brain. Apprentices got to dissect a sheep’s brain and learn about its anatomy and function. They also discovered which parts of your brain control the muscles and the senses.

This event is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation.


Scientific Kitchen: We All Scream for (Stretchy?!) Ice Cream

PARTICIPANTS: Kent Kirshenbaum, Bill Yosses

How about some ice cream you can eat with a knife and fork? In this laboratory-turned-ice-cream-parlour, NYU chemist Kent Kirshenbaum and former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses demonstrated the making of the Turkish ice cream known as "dondurma." It’s an amazingly elastic style of ice cream that uses salep powder, a flour made from an orchid root, and mastic gum, made from tree resin, in addition to milk and sugar. Attendees also learned about the chemical properties that make it melt-resistant and stretchy.

This program is part of the Scientific Kitchen Series—intimate, hands-on workshops behind the scenes of exclusive kitchens and laboratories in New York.


Scientific Sails: Under the Sun

PARTICIPANT: Frank Nitsche

Attendees found their sea legs during a daytime sail aboard the schooner Mystic Whaler. On deck, geophysicist Frank Nitsche showed how he analyzes the waters surrounding Antarctica, and how those same tools and measurements can be used to gauge the health of the Hudson River.


Wizards of Odds

MODERATOR: John Hockenberry
PARTICIPANTS: Robert C. Green, Leonard Mlodinow, Masoud Mohseni, Alan Peters

Probability is the backbone of science, but how well do you understand it? Odds are, not as well as you think; it is a surprisingly subtle concept that is often misunderstood, sometimes even by professionals who use it to guide crucial and far-reaching decisions. In this program, experts from technology, physics, medicine, and programming explore the slippery side of probability and the powerful role it plays in modern life.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Until the End of Time

MODERATOR: George Musser
PARTICIPANTS: Vijay Balasubramanian, Janna Levin, Lee Smolin

Could time as we know it come to an end? Does the very question blow your mind a little? This World Science Festival salon explored this idea by examining the Big Bang and the mysteries of black holes, where, according to the laws of physics, time itself comes to an abrupt halt.

The World Science Festival's annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival's premier public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and well-informed members of the general public.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Spotlight: Women in Science

MODERATOR: Tracy Day
PARTICIPANTS: Dean Falk, Mandë Holford, Patricia Kovatch, Tara M. Ruttley

Attendees mingled with some of the brightest and boldest women scientists in an intimate cocktail party setting. In a frank and funny conversation, participants told stories about their work, their inspirations, their triumphs and challenges.

This event is sponsored by the Mount Sinai Health System.


Cyber Insecurity

MODERATOR: Rick Karr
PARTICIPANTS: Carrie Crot, Artur Ekert, Koos Lodewijkx, Radu Sion

From banking to the battlefield, we guard our secrets with digitally encrypted messages. Today's encryption systems are based on factoring algorithms—calculations too difficult for classical computers to crack. But a quantum computer would be exponentially faster, leaving even the most secure information vulnerable. Quantum cryptography pioneer Artur Ekert shared the latest efforts to develop unbreakable codes. The program also explored how private industry and the government are fighting cyber crime with experts from the FBI and IBM.

The World Science Festival's annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival's premier public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and well-informed members of the general public.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Night Lights, Big City: Stargazing

PARTICIPANTS: Blanca Li, Mario Livio, Astronaut Lee M. Morin, Irene Pease, Emily L. Rice, Astronaut Nicole Stott, Alex Young

A night of stargazing and music that celebrated the dance of the planets. Guests met astronomers and astronauts, and experienced the lights of our universe.

This event is sponsored by Celestron.


Scientific Kitchen: Botany at the Bar

PARTICIPANTS: Selena Ahmed, Rachel Meyer, Christian Schaal

The scientists from Shoots and Roots took guests on an intoxicating botanical journey. This workshop explored biodiversity to show the surprising similarities between people and plants through cocktails and food. Roots and Shoots teamed up with Christian Schaal of Estela to create species-rich cocktails of amaros and bitters.

This program is part of the Scientific Kitchen Series—intimate, hands-on workshops behind the scenes of exclusive kitchens and laboratories in New York.


Scientific Sails: Under the Stars

PARTICIPANTS: Frank Nitsche, Astronaut Nicole Stott

Under the sails of the Mystic Whaler schooner, guests learned how navigation has evolved through the centuries from charting a course with a compass to relying on radar, electronic charts, and GPS. Geophysicist Frank Nitsche of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory showed how the modern navigational tools are used in the open sea and NASA astronaut Nicole Stott talked about navigating in space.


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Mind Over Masters: The Question of Free Will

MODERATOR: Emily Senay
PARTICIPANTS: Christof Koch, Tamar Kushnir, Alfred Mele, Azim Shariff

Do we make conscious decisions? Or are all of our actions predetermined? And if we don't have free will, are we responsible for what we do? Modern neurotechnology is now allowing scientists to study brain activity neuron by neuron to try to determine how and when our brains decide to act. In this program, experts probe the latest research and explore the question of just how much agency we have in the world, and how the answer impacts our ethics, our behavior, and our society.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


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Reality Since Einstein

MODERATOR: Brian Greene
PARTICIPANTS: Gabriela González, Samir Mathur, Andrew Strominger, Cumrun Vafa, Steven Weinberg

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein's general theory of relativity, leaders from multiple fields of physics discuss its essential insights, its lingering questions, the latest work it has sparked, and the allied fields of research that have resulted.

The Kavli Prize recognizes scientists for their seminal advances in astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience. The series, "The Big, the Small, and the Complex," is sponsored by The Kavli Foundation and the Norwegian Academy of Science & Letters, partners of the Kavli Prize.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

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The Ultimate Science Street Fair

From deep space to the brain‘s inner recesses, World Science Festival 2015 turned Washington Square Park into an outdoor lab celebrating the fascinating science that shapes our lives. It was a full day of hands-on activities, interactive experiments, installations, and demonstrations. Guests met scientists and astronauts, and enjoyed live performances. Kids got to run through our Mars rover obstacle course, learn how scientists search for life on other planets, and suit up and train like an astronaut while suspended in the air.


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World Science U for a Day: The Continuing Quest for the Deep Laws of the Universe

PARTICIPANTS: Gabriela González, Samir Mathur, Carlo Rovelli, Andrew Strominger, Cumrun Vafa

Students embarked on a quest with some of the greatest physicists searching for a unified theory of everything. This live program offered a curated curriculum for serious enthusiasts seeking stimulating science that goes beyond a popular-level presentation. From string theory to black holes to quantum gravity, it was a full day to challenge the mind and be guided by a dream-team faculty.

The Kavli Prize recognizes scientists for their seminal advances in astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience. The World Science U for a Day event is sponsored by The Kavli Foundation and the Norwegian Academy of Science & Letters, partners of the Kavli Prize.


NASA Orbit Pavilion

This massive, interactive art installation featured a captivating soundscape to represent the 19 Earth Science satellites that monitor our planet’s ever-changing pulse from their unique vantage points. In addition to the sonic interpretations of this group of satellites orbiting Earth, visitors were able to view our planet through 3-D programs, and conduct hands-on activities with NASA scientists. Created by NASA in collaboration with STUDIOKCA and Shane Myrbeck.


Scientific Kitchen: Hard to Swallow

MODERATOR: Michael Moss
PARTICIPANTS: Brian Elbel, Paul Marantz, Catherine Price

Paleo? Gluten free? Juice cleanse? Want some kale chips with that chia seed burger? Perhaps only in America are food choices so often based on trends. The latest obsession: getting the correct amount of bacteria in our microbiomes. But despite it all, Americans’ diets have never been less nutritious. Which of these trends is based on solid science, and which on pseudoscience and marketing? This program, part of our Scientific Kitchen series, looked to science to help separate the facts from the hype. Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Moss (Salt Sugar Fat), author Catherine Price (Vitamania), and leading medical experts added a generous helping of reality to how we think about our diets.

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


Caution: Robots at Work

MODERATOR: Artur Ekert
PARTICIPANTS: Christof Koch, Seth Lloyd, Masoud Mohseni, Alan Peters

Creating artificially intelligent machines may be the biggest event in human history. According to Stephen Hawking, "it might also be the last." And we're getting closer to that day. From Watson and Siri to the driverless car, machines are getting progressively smarter. The next step: creating truly intelligent machines that learn, not by being programmed for a task, but by trial and error. The potential benefits—and the potential risks—are enormous. With leaders in the fields of artificial intelligence, quantum engineering, and neuroscience, this salon probed the technical, economic, and philosophical impact of the AI revolution.

The World Science Festival's annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival's premier public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and well-informed members of the general public.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Science and Storytime

PARTICIPANTS: Clayton Anderson, Artie Bennett, Deborah Heiligman, “Science Bob” Pflugfelder

A special science book event just for kids. New and favorite authors shared their stories and signed books.


What Is Sleep?

MODERATOR: Alan Alda
PARTICIPANTS: Mary Carskadon, Paul Shaw, Robert Stickgold, Matthew Wilson

What is sleep? Why do we dream? And what goes on in sleeping brains—from the tiny fruit fly’s to ours? In this program, Alan Alda talks with top sleep researchers and also highlights the winners of the 2015 Flame Challenge, in which video and written explanations of sleep were judged by 20,000 eleven year-olds.


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Time Is of the Essence … or Is It?

MODERATOR: Jim Holt
PARTICIPANTS: David Z. Albert, Vijay Balasubramanian, Carlo Rovelli, Lee Smolin

What is time? Isaac Newton described it as absolute, but Einstein proved that time is relative, and, shockingly, that time and space are intricately interwoven. Now recent work in string theory and quantum gravity suggests that space and time may not be fundamental. If this is true, what new picture of reality will emerge?

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Mind Controlled

MODERATOR: Emily Senay
PARTICIPANTS: Heather Berlin, Yarrow Dunham, Tamar Kushnir

How much control do we have over our impulses and behavior? How much do environmental factors affect our actions? And when do children begin to develop a sense of free will? This program hosted an eye-opening discussion on implicit bias, impulse control, and free will that covered everything from new fMRI research on how brain chemistry and behavior are affected by environmental factors, to current studies of children and when they develop biases.

The World Science Festival's annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival's premier public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and well-informed members of the general public.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


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The Next Quantum Leap: Here, There, and Everywhere

MODERATOR: Bill Blakemore
PARTICIPANTS: Artur Ekert, Daniel Gottesman, Seth Lloyd, Eleanor Rieffel

Often viewed as “spooky” or downright bizarre, quantum mechanics is fueling a powerful new era of amazing technology. In this program, today’s top quantum physicists discuss the information shake-up underway—and predict when we can expect a quantum computer of our own.

The Big Ideas series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


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To Explain the World: A Conversation With Steven Weinberg

MODERATOR: John Hockenberry
PARTICIPANT: Steven Weinberg

In this program, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and revered public intellectual Steven Weinberg speaks about science and history, drawing from his book “To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science.” Beginning with a short account on where science and intellectual thought rank in modern society compared to other modes of thought, Professor Weinberg goes on to paint a new and compelling picture of the development of scientific thought and exploration in a conversation moderated by Peabody Award-winning journalist John Hockenberry.

This program was presented in collaboration with the New-York Historical Society.