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Beautiful Minds: The Enigma of Genius

Saturday, June 4, 2011
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

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.

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

Moderator

Brian Greene
Brian GreenePhysicist and Author

Brian Greene is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, and is recognized for a number of groundbreaking discoveries in his field of superstring theory. His books, The Elegant Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos, and The Hidden Reality, have collectively spent 65 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.

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Participants

R. Douglas FieldsNeurologist, Author

R. Douglas Fields is a developmental neurobiologist and author of The Other Brain, a popular book about the discovery of brain cells (called glia) that communicate without using electricity. He is an authority on neuron-glia interactions, brain development, and the cellular mechanisms of memory.

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Philip GlassComposer

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Philip Glass is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. In the early 1960s, Glass spent two years of intensive study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and while there, earned money by transcribing Ravi Shankar’s Indian music into Western notation.

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Rex JungNeuropsychologist

Rex Jung is a leading scientist in the emerging field of positive neuroscience, the study of what the brain does well. His groundbreaking research led to the first model describing a network of brain regions critically linked in the service of intellectual pursuits, known as the Parieto-Frontal Integration Theory (or “P-FIT”).

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Dean Keith SimontonPsychologist

Renowned for his groundbreaking contributions to the study of genius, Dean Keith Simonton has provided his expertise to over 400 publications on the topic, including a dozen books entitled Genius, Creativity, and Leadership; Scientific Genius; Greatness; Genius and Creativity; Origins of Genius; and more.

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Julie TaymorDirector

In 1998, Julie Taymor became the first woman to win the Tony® Award for Best Direction of a Musical, and also won a Tony® for Best Costumes, for her landmark production of The Lion King. The musical has won three Molière Awards including Best Musical and Best Costumes, garnered Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League awards for Taymor’s direction.

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Location