Science, the Extravaganza: “Bring them in for the art and have them leave with science.”

From The New York Times:

Ant The second annual World Science Festival, a five-day extravaganza of performances, debates, celebrations and demonstrations, including an all-day street fair on Sunday in Washington Square Park, began with a star-studded gala tribute to the Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson at Lincoln Center Wednesday night. Over the next three days the curious will have to make painful choices: attend an investigation of the effects of music on the brain with a performance by Bobby McFerrin, or join a quest for a long-lost mural by Leonardo Da Vinci at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Learn about the science behind “Battlestar Galactica” with actors from the show, or head to one of various panels of scientists and philosophers arguing about free will, alternate universes, science and religion, time and what it means to be human? On Saturday there’s a chance to play naturalist, scouring a pair of New York parks under professional guidance in what Dr. Wilson calls a “BioBlitz” for flora, fauna and “all things crawly.” On Sunday you can get your hands in a variety of experiments at the street fair, including a “CSI”-style crime scene.

The festival is the brainchild of Brian Greene, a Columbia University physicist and mathematician and best-selling author, and his wife, Tracy Day, a former producer for ABC. They say they thought of the project after attending a science festival in Genoa, Italy, and being impressed by seeing science bubbling through the streets and cafes. The idea is to mix up art, theater and music with the inevitable talking heads and professional interlocutors like Charlie Rose or Alan Alda, who can keep the discussion moving and down to earth, in order to entice an audience that didn’t know it was interested in science. Ms. Day likes to describe the strategy this way: “Bring them in for the art and have them leave with science.”

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