World Science Festival

The World Science Festival is a science festival held in New York City and will be an annual event. The inaugural festival took place from May 28 to June 1, 2008 and featured several different kinds of presentations: The main events were primarily panel discussions or on-stage conversations, accompanied by multi-media presentations. A youth and family program presented topics such as sports from a scientific perspective and included an extensive street fair. A cultural program, under the auspices of actor and writer Alan Alda, focused on art inspired by science. The festival also included a "World Science Summit", a meeting of high-level participants from the world of science, politics, administration, and business.

The festival is the brainchild of Columbia University physicist Brian Greene and his wife, Emmy Award-winning television journalist Tracy Day. It is held in partnership with major New York City cultural and academic institutions such as Columbia University, New York University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

History and background

The World Science Festival was founded by Brian Greene, a Columbia University physics professor and author of several popular-science books (such as "The Elegant Universe"), and his wife, Emmy Award-winning television journalist Tracy Day. Inspired by a visit to the 2005 Festival della Scienza in Genoa, where Greene had been invited to speak, the two decided that founding a similar festival in New York City would be a unique opportunity to bring science to a wider public. As they envisioned it, such a festival would allow them to combine Greene's skills as a scientist and science communicator with Day's as a journalist and producer: the events were meant to be rooted in science, but also to conform to the production standards of professional TV or theater productions. Upon returning to New York, Greene and Day proceeded to enlist scientific advisors, and to forge partnerships with the city's major universities and cultural institutions. [Cf. Citation
last=Musser
first=George
newspaper=Scientific American
date=April 25 2008
year=2008
url=http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-science-project-q-a-with-brian-greene
title=A Science Fête Project: A Q&A with Brian Greene
]

In early 2006, Greene and Day founded the Science Festival Foundation (SFF), a non-profit organization based in New York City, dedicated to organizing the festival and related events. Greene serves as the foundation's chairman, and is also on its board of directors. The other members of the board are Alan Alda, Columbia University president Lee Bollinger, the foundation's president Judith Cox, Tracy Day as the festival's Executive Director, and New York University president John Sexton. [Non-profit status and chairman position from the foundation's 990-EZ form for 2006, accessible online via [http://www.guidestar.org GuideStar] . Current board of directors from Citation|last=World Science Festival|title=Board of directors|url=http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/about-us/board-of-directors|publisher=Science Festival Foundation|date=April 2008|year=2008|access-date=2008-06-08.]

The foundation organizes the WSF in partnership with Columbia University, New York University, the City University of New York, Rockefeller University and the Cooper Union, as well as cultural institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. Financial support comes from individuals, from numerous foundations, and from corporate sponsors which, for the 2008 festival, included the Sloan Foundation, the Simons Foundation, the Templeton Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Cullman Foundation, and Credit Suisse. [As listed in Citation
last=Overbye
first=Dennis
url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/arts/03fest.html
newspaper=New York Times
date=April 3 2008
year=2008
title=Coming to New York, a Science Event for the Masses
pages=E2
]

2008 Festival

The inaugural World Science Festival took place from May 28 to June 1, 2008, at 22 venues throughout New York City. It included 46 events, a street fair and, on its first day, the one-day World Science Summit at Columbia University. The Festival was attended by 120,000 people. [Venues and event numbers: Citation
last=Overbye
first=Dennis
url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/science/03fest.html
newspaper=New York Times
date=June 3 2008
year=2008b
title=An Overflowing Five-Day Banquet of Science and Its Meanings
pages=
. Summit: Citation
last=Timmer
first=John
url=http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080528-first-kavli-prize-winners-in-new-fields-of-science-announced.html
newspaper=Ars Technica
date=May 28 2008
year=2008b
title=First Kavli Prize winners in new fields of science announced
. Attendance: Citation
last=Souccar
first=Miriam
title=City's Science Festival attracts record numbers
newspaper=Crain's New York Business
date=June 6 2008
year=2008
url=http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080606/FREE/571186140/1047
] It featured several different kinds of presentations: science events for a general audience, a cultural program focusing on art inspired by science, and a youth and family program. [Citation
last=Timmer
first=John
url=http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080402-nyc-to-host-the-world-science-festival-in-may.html
newspaper=Ars Technica
date=April 3 2008
year=2008
title=NYC to host the World Science Festival in May
]

World Science Summit

Preceding the public events was the invitation-only World Science Summit on May 28, 2008, at which New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opened the Festival. At the summit, an invited audience interacted with eminent scientists in several panel discussions. Participants included Nina Federoff (Science and Technology Advisor to U. S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice), biologist David Baltimore and cancer researcher Harold Varmus. [Citation|first=Keith B.|last=Richburg|title=U.S. Experts Bemoan Nation's Loss of Stature in the World of Science|newspaper=Washington Post|year=2008|date=May 29, 2008|pages=A04]

As part of the Summit, the winners of the first Kavli Prizes were announced in a simulcast linking New York City and Oslo. The first Kavli Prize for astrophysics was awarded to Maarten Schmidt and Donald Lynden-Bell for their pioneering work on quasars. Louis E. Brus and Sumio Iijima shared the nanoscience prize for their contributions to the science of quantum dots and carbon nanotubes, respectively. Pasko Rakic, Thomas Jessell and Sten Grillner were awarded the neuroscience prize for their research into how neuronal networks develop and communicate. [Citation
last=Timmer
first=John
url=http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080528-first-kavli-prize-winners-in-new-fields-of-science-announced.html
newspaper=Ars Technica
date=May 28 2008
year=2008b
title=First Kavli Prize winners in new fields of science announced
]

Festival events

Typical Festival events combined talks, demonstrations, video presentations and panel discussions. All in all, the festival covered a wide variety of scientific topics. A number of events addressed "big questions": For example, a roster of scientists including physicist William Phillips, philosopher Patricia Churchland, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, philosopher Daniel Dennett, cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky, and cancer researcher Harold Varmus, debated various facets of "What It Means to Be Human" in a panel discussion moderated by Charlie Rose. A recurring theme was the wider implications of scientific results, as exemplified by a discussion on the promises and consequences of personal genomics involving biochemist Paul Nurse, sociologist Nikolas Rose, and human genome project leader Francis Collins. A number of events explored the interface between science and the arts; for instance, a panel including psychologist Nancy C. Andreasen, choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones, and actor and writer Michael York was dedicated to the scientific study of creativity. Other events saw physicists Lawrence Krauss and radio host Ira Flatow presenting modern cosmology, paleontologist Richard Leakey exploring the sixth extinction, and chemist F. Sherwood Rowland and Rensselaer Polytechnic president Shirley Ann Jackson discussing new ways of satisfying humanity's energy needs. A number of events were co-productions with the festival's partners, such as a discussion between Robert Krulwich and neurologist Oliver Sacks on perception, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or an event that had musician Mark Oliver Everett explore the scientific legacy of his father, Hugh Everett, at the Museum of Modern Art. [General description: Citation
last=Overbye
first=Dennis
url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/science/03fest.html
newspaper=New York Times
date=June 3 2008
year=2008b
title=An Overflowing Five-Day Banquet of Science and Its Meanings
pages=
. Additional participant names as listed on the Festival's website at Citation|last=World Science Festival|title=Speakers|url=http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/speakers|access-date=2008-07-17|publisher=Science Festival Foundation; additional event information from the entries in Citation|last=World Science Festival|title=All Events by Date|url=http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/2008-festival/events/all-events-by-date|access-date=2008-07-17|publisher=Science Festival Foundation.
]

The Festival's cultural program ranged from a string theory-themed dance performance choreographed by Karole Armitage to a storytelling event in cooperation with The Moth, which featured journalist and writer Lucy Hawking, physicist Jim Gates and writer Sam Shepard, among others. Alan Alda revisited his role as Richard Feynman in Peter Parnell's play "QED" in a staged reading at Columbia University's Miller Theatre, and the choir of the Abyssinian Baptist Church joined neurologist-writer Oliver Sacks in an exploration of music and science. The festival also saw the premiere of "Dear Albert", a reading for the stage written by Alda based on the letters of Albert Einstein, and starring Anthony LaPaglia as Einstein. [Armitage, Sacks, Moth: Citation
last=Overbye
first=Dennis
url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/science/03fest.html
newspaper=New York Times
date=June 3 2008
year=2008b
title=An Overflowing Five-Day Banquet of Science and Its Meanings
pages=
. Additional information on Moth event: Citation|last=Tierney|first=John|title=Early Reviews of Science Festival|newspaper=TierneyLab|date=May 30, 2008|year=2008|url=http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/30/early-reviews-of-science-festival|publisher=The New York Times. Dear Albert: Citation|last=van Gelder|first=Lawrence|title=Arts, Briefly: Footnotes|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/12/theater/12arts-FOOTNOTES_BRF.html|newspaper=New York Times|date=May 12 2008|year=2008 and Citation|last=Hoffman|first=Jascha|title=Insight into Einstein|journal=Nature|volume=453|page=987|year=2008.
]

Events for a younger audience included an examination of the science of sports (with sports scientist Tom Crawford, neuroscientist David Eagleman, and athletes such as Brevin Knight, Lisa Willis and Leilani Mitchell). For the festival's first event, New York City high-school students interviewed robotics expert Cynthia Breazeal and physicist Leon Lederman on-stage, moderated by MTV's SuChin Pak. Another event was presented by the Disney Imagineers, who explored the science of special effects and amusement park technology, from roller coasters and fireworks to motion capture and artificial fog. [Sports: Citation|first=Nicholas|last=Scalera|title=Science of Sports|newspaper=Science Channel Blog|date=June 1, 2008|year=2008|url=http://blogs.discovery.com/world_science_festival/2008/06/science-of-spor.html|publisher=Discovery Communications. Lederman/Breazeal interviews: Citation|first=Jess|last=Zielinski|newspaper=USA Today Blogs: Science Fair|title=World Science Festival: Pioneers in science|date=May 30, 2008|year=2008|url=http://blogs.usatoday.com/sciencefair/2008/05/world-science-1.html|publisher=USA Today. Disney Imagineering event: Citation|last=Cohen|first=Patricia|title=The World Science Festival: Behind Disney’s Magic|newspaper=ArtsBeat|date=May 31, 2008|year=2008|url=http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/31/the-world-science-festival-behind-disneys-magic|publisher=The New York Times.Participant information coincides with that given on the festival's website at Citation|last=World Science Festival|title=Speakers|url=http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/speakers|access-date=2008-07-17|publisher=Science Festival Foundation.]

treet Fair

The WSF Street Fair took place in and around Washington Square Park, on the New York University campus, on Saturday, May 30, 2008. Although it was interrupted by a thunderstorm, the street fair was attended by 100,000 people, according to estimates from the New York Police Department. [Participant number: Citation|last=Timmer|first=John|title=World Science Festival wrapup|newspaper=Ars Technica|date=2008-06-19|year=2008|url=http://arstechnica.com/journals/science.ars/2008/06/19/world-science-festival-wrapup. Inclement weather: Citation|last=Tierney|first=John|title=Happy Fairgoers, Worried Biologists|newspaper=TierneyLab|date=June 1, 2008|year=2008|url=http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/happy-fairgoers-worried-biologists|publisher=The New York Times]

Stage events at the street fair included live performances by the "Mathemagician" Arthur T. Benjamin, "science rapper" Zach Powers, and a band called "The Mathematicians", science demonstrations by teams from institutions such as the Liberty Science Center and the Franklin Institute, and presentations by journalist-author Lucy Hawking and visual artist Scott Draves, among others. The street fair featured appearances by Disney's animatronic dinosaur Lucky, by characters from science- and education-related TV shows such as "Cyberchase", "It's a Big Big World", "Clifford the Big Red Dog" and "Zula Patrol", as well as demonstrations by teams participating in the New York/New Jersey FIRST Robotics Competition, and hands-on activities such as owl pellet dissections and miniature rocket launches. Also present were a movable museum from the American Museum of Natural History and the Magic School Bus. [Citation
last=Graeber
first=Laurel
newspaper=New York Times
title=Spare Times: For Children - World Science Festival
date=May 30 2008
year=2008
url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/30/arts/30wkids.html
and Citation|last=Tierney|first=John|title=Happy Fairgoers, Worried Biologists|newspaper=TierneyLab|date=June 1, 2008|year=2008|url=http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/happy-fairgoers-worried-biologists|publisher=The New York Times, with additional information from Citation|last=World Science Festival|title=WSF Street Fair|url=http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/2008-festival/events/all-events/street-fair/|publisher=Science Festival Foundation|date=April 2008|year=2008|access-date=2008-10-06.
]

References

External links

* [http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/ World Science Festival website]
* [http://blog.worldsciencefestival.com/ World Science Festival blog]


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