DATE: Thursday, June 2, 2016
TIME: 8:00 PM-9:30 PM
VENUE: NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
PARTICIPANTS: Brian Greene, Joanna Kaczorowska, Pablo Lavandera, Miguel Nicolelis, Leon Wieseltier

As long ago as the early 19th century, the poet Keats bemoaned the washing away of the world’s beauty and mystery in the wake of natural philosophy’s reductionist insights—its tendency to “unweave a rainbow.” Two centuries later, the tentacles of science have reached far further, wrapping themselves around questions and disciplines once thought beyond the reach of scientific analysis. But like Keats, not everyone is happy. When it comes to the evaluation of human experience—passion to prayer, consciousness to creativity—what can science explain, and what are the limits of its explanatory powers? What is the difference between science and scientism? Are the sciences and the humanities friends or foes? Join an animated discussion on science, reductionism, the mind, the heart, freedom, religion, and the quest for the human difference.

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

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Brian Greene
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 UniverseThe Fabric of the Cosmos, and The Hidden Reality, have collectively spent 65 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, and were the basis of two award-winning NOVA mini-series, which he hosted. Professor Greene co-founded the World Science Festival in 2008 and serves as Chairman of the Board.
Joanna Kaczorowska_200px

Joanna Kaczorowska, internationally acclaimed for her virtuosity and impeccable artistry, has performed as a soloist and in combination with today’s leading artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and the Emerson String Quartet. She has performed in every major concert hall, both in the US and abroad including Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Beethoven’s Haus, and at many music festivals including Aspen and Tanglewood. Aside from winning numerous prizes at various competitions, Dr. Kaczorowska is also a distinguished judge and guest artist and has conducted master classes at many competitions and festivals including Carnegie Hall Professional Training Workshops and the Liszt-Garrison Festival and Competition. Recently honored by Stony Brook University with the inaugural 40 Under Forty Alumni Award, Kaczorowska has spoken not only of the classical music world and its current role in society, but has presented talks about personal growth, mentorship, inspiration, and achievement. She inspired audiences at a TEDxSBU conference on the topic of mentorship. A published journalist and art critic as well as the founder and Artistic Director of New York Chamber Musicians, she is also a violin professor at Stony Brook University.


Pablo Lavandera appears regularly in many prestigious venues in the United States, South America and Europe, both as a soloist and chamber musician, and in duo with violinist Joanna Kaczorowska with whom he received First Prize at the 2009 Liszt-Garrison International Piano Competition in the collaborative artists category including the Liszt and Bayreuth (Germany) performance prizes. Passionately committed to performing new music, Dr. Lavandera has received the Argentine Society of Music Authors and Composers Prize for his commitment to the music of his native country of Argentina. He is also a pianist with New York Chamber Musicians. His discography includes solo, chamber, and concerto repertoire encompassing music from across three centuries. A Fulbright Scholar, he received degrees from the New England Conservatory, Indiana University Bloomington and SUNY Stony Brook. He is on the music faculty at Stony Brook University where he teaches  piano and a collaborative piano class.

Miguel Nicolelis_200px

Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., is the Duke School of Medicine Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience at Duke University, professor of neurobiology, biomedical engineering, and psychology & neuroscience, and founder of Duke’s Center for Neuroengineering. He is founder and scientific director of the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal. Nicolelis is also founder of the Walk Again Project, an international consortium of scientists and engineers, dedicated to the development of an exoskeleton device to assist severely paralyzed patients in regaining full body mobility. Miguel Nicolelis has dedicated his career to investigating how the brains of freely behaving animals encode sensory and motor information. As a result of his studies, he was first to propose and demonstrate that animals and human subjects can utilize their electrical brain activity to directly control neuroprosthetic devices via brain-machine interfaces (BMI).


Leon Wieseltier is the Isaiah Berlin Senior Fellow in Culture and Policy at the Brookings Institution. He is the author, among other books, of the acclaimed Kaddish. He was the literary editor of The New Republic from 1983 to 2014, and is now contributing editor and critic at The Atlantic. His essays on a wide range of subjects have been published in many languages, and he has taught at many universities. In 2013 he was awarded the Dan David Prize. He was educated at Columbia University, Balliol College, Oxford, and Harvard University, where he was a member of the Society of Fellows.