Science is in a bad place, guys, but Tina Fey and her superfriends aren’t letting us go gently to our “Idiocracy” fate.
The “30 Rock” creator is among the celebrity teachers taking part in the World Science Festival (despite the name, it’s only taking place in New York City's five boroughs). Celebrating its 10th year, the fest takes place May 30-June 4 in all five boroughs with more than 50 performances, debates, intimate discussions, family events, many of them free.
Celebrating its 10th year, the fest is on now through June 4 with more than 50 performances, debates, intimate talks and family events, many of them free.
Not that science isn’t cool on its own, but where else can you talk about women in astrophysics with “Big Bang Theory” star and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik, stargaze in Brooklyn Bridge Park with Bill Nye the Science Guy, or discuss the home of tomorrow with actress Ellen Burstyn, alongside Nobel laureates and TED Prize winners?
“Science is not just a subject in school; it’s a perspective on the world,” says festival co-founder and theoretical physicist Brian Greene. “Science is our most powerful tool for revealing the deep truths of reality, and the Festival is dedicated to making those truths understandable, accessible, and widely available.”
Though anyone who’s dropped a Mentos into a science project volcano knows science is better in person, you can also watch many of the events on the festival’s first-ever livestream.
Check out the full schedule if this is your idea of Comic Con; for the casual nerds, we’ve rounded up some of the highlights.
1. Global warming takes center stage
For the first time, the festival is bringing four days of pop-up programs, educational installations and activities to the heart of the city with Science in the Square. The main event is Holoscenes, a giant aquarium that will periodically flood and drain between June 1-3, forcing the performers inside to adapt. The festival describes it as “spectacular and haunting,” which sounds about right for the power and danger of Mother Nature. Free, May 31-June 3, Seventh Ave. and 47th St.
2. How far can robots go?
“Westworld” fans, this is the panel for you. At Computational Creativity: AI and the Art of Ingenuity, you’ll learn about robots that exist today that are creating art, dancing, telling stories and making up their own recipes in the kitchen. But does this mean they’re alive, capable of truly independent thought and maybe even emotion? A panel of experts will explore the ongoingn revolution in artificial intelligence. $37, May 31, 8 p.m., NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Place
3. The future of communication
Anyone who has a young child or is thinking about raising one in our increasingly screen-centric world needs to check out Growing Up Digital: Coming of Age in a Virtual World. What effects are scientists seeing in today’s kids as online interactions continue to displace face-to-face contact? The short answer is: Everything from their emotional health to their ability to learn has changed in the past decade. Get the full picture of what being a social animal means in the Internet age from experts in the fields of psychology, linguistics and technology. $25, June 3, 6 p.m., NYU Global Center, Grand Hall, 238 Thompson St., fifth floor
4. An all-ages science fair
Bet you never got to ride a hovercraft at any of your school science fairs. On Ultimate Science Sunday, a massive indoor science festival open to anyone with a love of learning will give you the chance to roam a virtual reality world of dinosaurs, “drive” an underwater rover, launch a catapult and tons more interactive exhibits and games. Free, June 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., NYU Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square S.
5. Women at the forefront of science
Recognizing women’s accomplishments is the unlikely box office success story of this year, with $229.6 million for “Hidden Figures,” the highest-grossing movie in the 2017 Oscars Best Picture race. Some of the real-life female scientists are gathering for two events to discuss their triumphs and struggles first-hand: Nevertheless, She Persisted a cocktail mixer with host Mayim Bialik ($50, June 1, 8:30 p.m., Ace Hotel’s Liberty Hall, 20 W. 29th St.) and the essential role of women in the future of space exploration in Hidden Figures No More! ($37, June 2, 8 p.m., Grand Hall at NYU Global Center, 238 Thompson St.)