Monday, May 31, 2010

Coming soon: the World Science Festival

Posted By on Mon, May 31, 2010 at 3:22 PM

The kid in me is antsy, shouting "I wanna go. I wanna go!"

To the World Science Festival, which starts on Tuesday and runs through next Sunday. This annual conference unites cutting edge leads in the sciences with arts and culture. And it's in New York City, of course.

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So I must pine from afar, for these incredible events (the stuff of listings dreams!):

• "Eye Candy: Science, Sight, Art," June 3, 7 p.m. — some scientists now think that certain biological factors determine our predilections in art, that beauty is in the eye of the "humanity" beholder.

• "Black Holes and Holographic Worlds," June 3, 8 p.m. — researchers studying black holes are now proposing that everything we see is something of a hologram. Take a moment with that one.

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• "Brutality and the Brain," June 3, 8 p.m. — this is something I've always wondered, how can people be so cruel? What is the source of violent crimes and war? Is it a hardware defect, or something else?

• "Strangers in the Mirror," June 4, 8 p.m. — neurologist Oliver Sacks and artist Chuck Close will explain the phenomenon of "face blindness," in which people cannot recognize faces, even their own in the mirror. Sacks once apologized to a bearded man he nearly bumped into, only to realize it was himself in the mirror. Close is well-known for his innovative and detailed portraits.

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• "Back to the Big Bang: Inside the Large Hadron Collider," June 5, 3 p.m. — if you haven't heard of the collider, I have to insist you get up to speed. This physics machine cost $10 billion and took 16 years to build and sends particles into collisions at "energies unseen since a fraction of a second after the big bang." People thought the universe would collapse when it was first activated in 2008. It actually broke. But just a few weeks ago, it was switched on again, and we're still here.

There are over a dozen other presentations happening at the fest, including lectures on consciousness, the nature of understanding, hyperspace, faith and science, studying the ocean (which, according to the write-up, is still 95 percent undiscovered) as well as art shows and a Moth reading with scientists and artists.

A few of the events will be streamed live, including the black hole and hologram event. Video archives are also available once the festival wraps. That should soothe my inner temper tantrum.

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