Every year since 2008, the World Science Festival (WSF) has brought cutting-edge science programs to New York City. If you love science and are looking for something to do next weekend (May 30th - June 3rd) check out the website at www.worldsciencefestival.com to take a look at the wide array of events. After taking a deep dive into the program this weekend, to choose which events I will be attending, I can say that they really seem to have outdone themselves this year. There is truly something for everyone. Some of the events require purchasing tickets, but, many are free and open to all ages.
Here are some of my top picks:
LAB TOURS FOR GIRLS: WE ARE WOMEN, OPEN THE DOOR We are flinging open the doors of female-run labs at Columbia University, CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, Hunter College, New York University, and NYU Tandon School of Engineering, inviting middle school girls to come inside and imagine their future lab-coated selves. Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce. This underrepresentation in STEM for girls is self-perpetuating but also reversible: if you can see it, you can be it. Here’s your chance to meet venomous snails, 2000-year-old bones, a genome sequencing machine, and a mass spectrometer. But more importantly, you’ll meet the brilliant women tasked with studying them. Wednesday, May 30 (10:30am - 1:00pm) Multiple locations - see website
SATURDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: STARGAZING IN BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK (FREE and great for kids) It is possible to see the stars in the city! Step up to a world-class telescope (or bring your own) for an outdoor party beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Saturday, June 2 (7:00pm - 11:00pm) Brooklyn Bridge Park - Pier 1
ME, MY MICROBIOME, AND I: THE VITAL CELLS OF EXISTENCE Much of you isn’t you. For every cell in your body, there’s another tiny single-celled creature that also calls your body home. Far from being germs we should eradicate, these ancient friends allow us to digest food, breathe air, and fight off disease. They were here long before us and will undoubtedly remain long after we’re gone. They are our microbiome, and after eons of cohabitation, we are finally getting to know one another better. Of course, we aren’t always the best of neighbors. Autoimmune diseases, allergies, depression, and Alzheimer’s may be diseases of an unhappy microbiome. Come join world-renowned microbiologists as they zoom in on the micro world and zoom out on its macro influence. Saturday, June 2 (12:00pm - 1:30pm) Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College
THE GREAT FISH COUNT (FREE and great for kids) Strap on a pair of waders, cast a net and see what type of marine life you can find in the New York waterways—from Lemon Creek in Staten Island to the shores of Fort Washington Park. Led by top ecologists and biologists, the Great Fish Count gives participants of all ages the chance to discover the underwater world in their own backyard. Saturday, June 2 (9:00am - 6:30pm) Great Fish Count Sites
PLANTING THE SEEDS, SEEDING THE PLANTS: CAN CRISPR SAVE THE WORLD? By 2050, there will be nine billion people on the planet. CRISPR, the revolutionary gene editing technology, could help usher in the next Green Revolution, allowing us to feed our ballooning population in a hotter, more crowded world. But can CRISPR protect the future without causing chaos? Join biologists and geneticists as we explore the thorny issue of tinkering with nature to save it. Thursday, May 31 (4:00pm - 5:30pm) NYU Global Center, Grand Hall
COOL JOBS: SAVAGE CAREERS IN SCIENCE THAT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND Come meet scientists who have some of the coolest jobs on the planet—jobs that take them out of the lab, into the world, and far beyond. You’ll get to meet a venomous snake-loving herpetologist, a forensic scientist sleuthing crime scenes for clues, a NASA engineer who lands spacecrafts on Mars, inventors who are changing the future of sports—and through it all spark new ideas of how a life in science is a life of unending adventure. Saturday, June 2 (3:00pm - 4:00pm) NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
SCIENCE AND STORYTIME: SCIENCE BOOKS COME TO LIFE (FREE) How are space and sea similar? Is it possible to build a faster paper airplane? Who is Katherine Johnson, and how did she save Apollo 13? What does the vastness of space look like from the confines of a tiny rocket? What makes a beehive–and can you turn the pages of a book into one? This wide range of questions, and more still, will be answered by children’s book authors Lynn Brunelle, Helaine Becker, “Science Bob” Pflugfelder, Jennifer Swanson, Ken Blackburn, and Mike Vago, who will read from and sign their books while also helping you build your own beehives, rockets, and super-fast paper airplanes. Sunday, June 3 (11:00am - 5:00pm) NYU Kimmel Center
WHO IS OUT THERE?: WHY ALIEN ‘LIFE’ MAY BE WEIRDER THAN WE IMAGINE Alien life has been a mainstay and fascination of science fiction, but who–or what–might actually be out there: biological life, artificial intelligence, or some combination of both? It took only 200,000 years—a blip on the cosmic timeline—for the first sparks of intelligent life to invent artificial intelligence here on Earth. And since space is big, and life is short—at least biological life as we know it—it may be that chatter on the cosmic airwaves is dominated by a spectacular spectrum of A.I. Join leaders in philosophy, astrobiology, evolutionary biology, and A.I. to wrestle with the subject of how life down here might be a thoroughly misleading guide to life up there. Saturday, June 2 (8:00pm - 9:30pm) NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
I could go on and on. The World Science Festival puts together one of the most innovative science programs out there with the best scientists around. For science lovers or for those who just like to learn about new things, it will not disappoint. I hope to see you there!