Presented with New York’s innovative storytelling organization, The Moth, scientists, writers and esteemed artists tell on-stage stories about their personal relationship with science. In keeping with Moth tradition, each story must be true, and told without notes in ten minutes. The result is a poignant, hilarious and always unpredictable evening of storytelling and science. Participants include Leonard Mlodinow (The Drunkard’s Walk) and Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek.
Dr. Kristin Baldwin is an assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Baldwin’s research harnesses cutting-edge stem cell technology and cloning to understand how changes to genes and genomes allow stem cells to generate all the cell types found in a complex organism. Her laboratory recently generated Fibonacci, a mouse-derived entirely from a skin cell that they had transformed into a stem cell using viruses. The experiment showed that skin-derived stem cells can potentially replace embryonic stem cells in research and therapeutic applications, a result cited as one of the most important breakthroughs of 2009 by Discover.
In collaboration with artist Amy Chase Gulden, Dr. Baldwin also genetically engineers living, growing paintings using E. coli bacteria as paint, offering a new way to study perception, in this case of art and beauty. The team’s work was recently exhibited at the Serrano Contemporary gallery in Chelsea in a show entitled Growing Impressions. She was selected as a 2007 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences.
In 2008, Richard Garriott , a leading expert on private and commercial space travel, realized a lifelong dream to travel to space when he launched aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft to the International Space Station and became the sixth private citizen to fly in Earth’s orbit. In doing so, he became the first second-generation American in space, following the same path of his father Owen Garriott, who completed two space missions in his NASA career. Having caught the space bug as a child from his father, Garriott has held a passion for the space industry and has invested in various related ventures such as the Zero-G Corporation, X-Prize and Spacehab. He is chairman of Space Adventures, Ltd., the world’s premier private space exploration company. He is also on the board of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.
Earlier in his career, Garriott designed the Ultima role-playing games, one of the most successful computer game series ever. His many awards include Entrepreneur of the Year from Inc. magazine and Computer Gaming World’s 15 Most Influential Industry Players. He is vice president and creative director for the Austin-based games developer and publisher, Portalarium.
Leonard Mlodinow is a theoretical physicist. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and taught at the California Institute of Technology. He is a popular international speaker and the author of numerous academic papers in physics and eight popular science books, including four best sellers. His most recent book is The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Universe. His book Subliminal: How Our Unconscious Mind Rules Our Behavior, won the 2013 PEN/Wilson Award as “best literary science book.” His book The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, was a New York Times editor’s choice and a New York Times notable book of the year, was short listed for the Royal Society book award, and won the Robert P. Balles Prize in critical thinking, and the Liber Press (Spain) Award for the “Popularization of Science.” The Grand Design, coauthored with Stephen Hawking, was a #1 best seller and was made into a three-part documentary on the Discovery Channel. Mlodinow has also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Wired, The New York Review of Books, and other mass market publications. Leonard Mlodinow has created several award-winning video games, including one in conjunction with Steven Spielberg starring Robin Williams, and has written for network television, including the series MacGyver, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the comedy Night Court.
Professor Frank Wilczek is considered one of the world’s eminent theoretical physicists. In 2004, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction—key to several major problems in particle physics and beyond.
Professor Wilczek contributes regularly to Physics Today and to Nature, explaining topics at the frontiers of physics to wider scientific audiences. Two of his pieces have been anthologized in Best American Science Writing (2003, 2005). With his wife Betsy Devine, he wrote Longing for the Harmonies (W.W. Norton). His most recent book, The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces (Perseus) was published in September 2008, and he’s now hard at work on The Attraction of Darkness, a novel mixing science, music, sex, and murder.
Professor Wilczek is a second-generation American and a graduate of the New York City’s public schools. Presently he is the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at MIT.