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.
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.
For directions and ferry information, click HERE.
Oysters of New York Harbor
The harbor that surrounds us is teeming with life. Join New York Times bestselling author of The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, Mark Kurlansky, for a hands-on exploration of the oysters in our waters. Learn how these “ecosystem engineers” are cultivated; discover new experimental reefs created to study the restoration of oysters in NY Harbor; and join in the effort by personalizing shells that will become a part of the reefs. Presented in collaboration with The Hudson River Foundation, The River Project, Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, NY/NJ Baykeeper.
The Delicate Art of Sungazing
See the Sun in ways you never have before! Join renowned science writer Timothy Ferris, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, and local amateur astronomers as we peer through dozens of telescopes at sunspots and solar weather. Get a close up look at the sun from space via satellite. Explore the sun from the ground with compasses, sun dials, and UV beads. Bask it its early summer radiance with fellow sun worshippers! Presented in collaboration with NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory, local amateur astronomers associations.
The Great Bug Hunt
Explore the little (and not so little) winged wonders of the arthropod world on Governors Island. In this mysterious world run by insects and their relatives, there are pollinators, predators, plant munchers, and soil cultivators. Many will do everything they can to trick our observant eyes, hide out in flowers, or dupe us into thinking they’re another insect or plant altogether. Take a journey with AMNH naturalist, Jay Holmes, that will introduce you to these amazing creatures right under your nose, over your head, and beneath your feet! Presented in collaboration with American Museum of Natural History.
What’s growing on Governors Island? Make history by being the first to compile a list of the spontaneous plants growing there. Take a closer look and you’ll be amazed at the island’s diverse plant life. With magnifying glass in hand, identify local plant species, find out what differentiates poisonous and edible plants, and use a plant press to keep a record of the specimens you collect. Join us as we learn the ropes of botany from New York Botanical Garden’s best! Presented in collaboration with The New York Botanical Garden.
Birding Governors Island
Make sure to bring your binoculars and join AMNH ornithologist, Joseph DiCostanzo, on a bird-watching adventure on Governors Island. We’ll investigate different habitats—trees, fields, shorelines, and the surrounding harbor—looking for all kinds of exciting bird species, from the waterbirds of New York’s Upper Bay to migrant birds stopping over on their way to their next destinations. Don’t miss your chance to meet some of Governors Islands fine feathered inhabitants. Presented in collaboration with American Museum of Natural History.
What causes wind? How do our city’s buildings, trees, and coastlines influence our local weather? Governors Island provides the perfect opportunity to explore weather—from wind to clouds to the “seabreeze effect.” Come make tornados (in a bottle), watch atmospheric pressure and convection currents work wonders on cans and food coloring, and see what kite flying and shooting a basket while spinning have to do with the weather and atmosphere. Presented in collaboration with CUNY NOAA-CREST Research Center and Howard University’s NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences
Fly Sky High: Kites on Governors Island
In January of 1897, for the first time in America, a kite lifted a man into the air… and it happened on Governors Island! Come see a “man-lifting kite” just like the one flown on the island over a century ago and see the modern version of that kite flying high today. Watch–and get some hands-on experience–as kites are used in wind experiments on the Parade Ground and then head to Picnic Point to build your own kites and enjoy the WSF Kite Garden! Presented in collaboration with Kiteman Productions.
Timothy Ferris is the author of a dozen books (most recently The Science of Liberty), plus 200 articles and essays, and three documentary films—”The Creation of the Universe,” “Life Beyond Earth,” and “Seeing in the Dark”—seen by over 20 million viewers.
Ferris produced the Voyager phonograph record, an artifact of human civilization containing music and sounds of Earth launched aboard the twin Voyager interstellar spacecraft.
Called “the best popular science writer in the English language” by The Christian Science Monitor and “the best science writer of his generation” by The Washington Post, Ferris has received the American Institute of Physics prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Professor Ferris has taught in five disciplines at four universities. He is currently an emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
Mark Kurlansky is a former commercial fisherman and New York Times bestselling author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, Salt: A World History, The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, and 16 other books. He’s won numerous awards, including the James A. Beard Award, Glenfiddich Award for food writing, ALA Notable Book Award, The New York Public Library Best Books of the Year Award, Los Angeles Times Science Writing Award, and Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He has illustrated many of his books himself.
His articles have appeared in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including the International Herald Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Los Angeles Times, TIME magazine, Partisan Review, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, Audubon, Food +Wine, Gourmet, Bon Appétit and Parade
In addition to giving lectures at numerous schools, including Columbia University School of Journalism, Yale University, Colby College, Grinnell College and the University of Dayton, Kurlansky has taught creative writing in Assisi, Italy and Devon, England, and has lectured internationally on history, writing, and environmental issues. His books have been translated into twenty-five languages. Kurlansky has also worked many other jobs including as a dock worker, a paralegal, a cook and a pastry chef.
W. Dean Pesnell is the project scientist of the Solar Dynamics Observatory. He has published 80 papers in a several research areas, including variable stars, the Sun-Earth connection, quantum mechanics, and meteors in planetary atmospheres.
He received his Ph.D. in 1983 from the University of Florida. After a post-doc at the University of Colorado and a visiting professorship at New Mexico State University, Pesnell came to NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center as a contractor in 1990. He formed Nomad Research, Inc., in 1995 to do independent scientific research. One research contract was to design the “Living with a Star” missions to study the response of the Earth to solar activity. He started work on Solar Dynamics Observatory in 2004 and became the project scientist in 2005. He talks a lot about on solar activity, including the current minimum in solar activity, and enjoys trying to use music to understand the Sun and stars.
Robert Naczi is a plant systematist, who specializes in documenting the changing plant life of the Northeast. He is a leading authority on the flora of the eastern United States, the sedge genus Carex (Cyperaceae), and the Western Hemisphere Pitcher Plants (Sarraceniaceae). The pitcher plants are carnivorous plants very popular in horticulture, but whose biology is still poorly known. Naczi uses a multi-pronged approach in his research, utilizing field, herbarium, and laboratory methods. His field work has given him first-hand knowledge of the flora of much of North America.
Naczi co-authored Mistaken Identity? Invasive Plants and their Native Look-alikes: An identification guide for the Mid-Atlantic (2008). Presently, he is writing a comprehensive account of the Northeast’s plants, New Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. He has published widely on Carex, the largest genus of flowering plants in North America (500 species) and in most temperate regions of the world (2000 species world-wide).
Previously, Naczi was herbarium curator, graduate professor, and founding director of the Scanning Electron Microscopy Laboratory at Delaware State University. In late September 2008, he started his job as curator of North American Botany at The New York Botanical Garden.