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. This year, we are honored to present an address by a titan of physics, Barry Barish.
Creative thought is surely among our most precious and mysterious capabilities. But can powerful computers rival the human brain? As thinking, remembering and innovating become increasingly interwoven with technological advances, what are we capable of? What do we lose? Join Luciano Floridi, John Donoghue, Gary Small and Rosalind Picard for a thought-provoking program about thinking.
Icarus at the Edge of Time is a mesmerizing tale set in outer space about a boy who challenges the awesome might of a black hole. Based on the children’s book by physicist Brian Greene, this futuristic re-imagining of the classic myth takes audiences of all ages on a whirlwind voyage through space and time to the very edge of understanding.
Our genes strictly dictate our personalities, appearance and diseases. Or do they? Research has revealed that genes can turn on and off; they can be expressed for years and then silenced. Sometimes, they are never activated. And these genetic instructions—how and when DNA is read—can be determined by the experiences of one’s ancestors, even those several generations back.
Cosmology is the one field in which researchers can—literally—witness the past. The cosmic background radiation, ancient light streaming toward us since the Big Bang, provides a pristine window onto the birth and evolution of the universe.
The nature of time is an age-old conundrum for physicists, philosophers, biologists and theologians. The Newtonian picture of time—a kind of cosmic clock that ticks off time in a manner that applies identically to everyone and everything—tightly aligns with our experience. But with special and general relativity, Einstein showed the fallacy inherent in experience.
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.
Alan Alda has issued this year’s challenge to the world’s top scientists: What is sound? In an action-packed hour of interactive demonstrations, Alan and a team of communication experts invite the audience to explore what we hear, how we hear, and what that means for different species.