This is somewhat overdue, but last week NYU hosted the World Science Festival 2012. As most of you know, I’m leaving to Chicago for a few years, this year was going to be my last year for awhile where I am able to attend (most likely). Therefore, I spent Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday going to various discussions and events. I decided to take a ridiculous amount of pictures using my friends’ cameras and give Cosmic to Quantum followers a recap to encourage some to try and attend next year. I would recommend you sit tight and be comfortable because this is a hell of a recap.
So on Thursday, I dragged a good friend of mine to a last minute talk at the Skirball Center at NYU for the discussion: Afterglow: Dispatches from the Birth of the Universe. This was a talk concerning the cosmological origins and evolution of the universe as human knowledge on the subject has progressed over these past hundred years. This panel was nothing less than an all-star panel concerning the subject of cosmological origin. You had Nobel Prize laureate John C. Mather, who worked on the Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite (COBE), Amber Miller, leader of Columbia’s Experimental Cosmology group’s study of the Cosmic Microwave Background, Princeton Physics Professor Lyman Page, an original investigator for the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) (which has made the most profound observations of cosmic background radiation to date), David Spergel, another professor at Princeton known for being the chair of the Astrophysics Subcommitte at NASA’s Advisory Council and also well known for his contribution to WMAP, and finally, well known physicist and author Lawrence M. Krauss, who moderated the discussion.
We got some awesome seats since we came in early enough and we managed to snap a few pictures before the event. This is a good time to say that tickets for these events are very affordable for everyone, which definitely plays into the goal of science advocacy. Tickets for students/youths were 15 dollars, 30 for adults. The fact that you can pretty much grab a great seat without having to give up your lung is something that I love about attending these talks.
That’s me being a dork. You’ll see a lot of this throughout the post.
Instead of me explaining everything they talked about, you have the chance to watch the entire talk yourself via their recorded webcast.
The talk was introduced by physicist Brian Greene, who I ran into after the show after my friend and I went to go get water at a nearby deli. All I managed to get out while we crossed paths was: “Oh my god. It’s Brian Greene.” Which he did not notice. IT WAS SPECIAL TO ME, OKAY.
Then Friday came around, so I skipped classes in order to take the day off and have fun for once in my life. I dragged the same friend of mine to go to the talk: The Elusive Neutrino and the Nature of the Cosmos (which I was really surprised that I got tickets to, since it was very last minute and I was on the waiting list). This event was moderated by ABC News anchor Bill Weir, and featured premiere expert physicists including Janet Conrad, Francis Halzen (who is probably the most hilarious physicist ever), and again, Lawrence M. Krauss, all who have done/are currently doing research and experiments concerning neutrinos and their behavior. I cannot find a current stream for this discussion, but if anyone can link me to one, that would be great.
Here’s a picture of the stage. We managed to sit in like the 5th row this time around, which was surprising seeing as this event was a lot more packed than Thursday’s. Also, while we were in line to get seating outside of the auditorium, Lawrence Krauss passed us all by and I was the only person out of like 50+ people who noticed him and a bunch of staff around him escorting him through the crowd to the back entrance of the auditorium. All I could then managed to say was, “Oh my god. It’s Lawrence Krauss!” Again, nothing really resulted from that encounter. IT WAS JUST COOL, OKAY?
Me being a dork: part 2. Only this time the lighting was crappier and it looks like I gained a few pounds; ALL IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE.
I took several pictures throughout the event, but all of them were terrible.
My friend, however, got a really good picture of Halzen and Krauss (wearing his Star Trek T-Shirt, of course). Someone actually briefly mentioned Star Trek when discussing how neutrinos behave in motion (apparently Star Trek somehow explained neutrino motion correctly before physicists confirmed it through experiments), and Lawrence Krauss took the opportunity to flash his t-shirt and tell that story, which was really cute.
Janet Conrad was explaining how there’s apparently a rock band named after the research project she is leading with neutrinos and somewhat lamented on how they are more popular than her research group. Halzen leads this project in the antarctic where they observe neutrino behavior using giant blocks of ice, called the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. After Conrad talked about how her group is less popular than the rock group of the same name, Halzen said something along the lines of, “Yeah, we have that same problem with Ice Cube.” AND I STARTED DYING. This guy, man. THIS GUY.
Speaking of rappers, did I forget to mention how the event started off with a rap about neutrinos by this guy named John Robinson, who is a physicist and a rapper? His stage name is apparently “Lil Sci” WHICH I FIND HILARIOUS FOR SOME REASON.
There he is. That rap was my jam, btw.
At the end of the event, Bill Weir decided to take a picture of the audience to upload to twitter. I took the liberty to point myself out because THAT MEANS I’M KINDA FAMOUS, RIGHT?
This image is, like I said, from Bill Weir’s twitter.
So then Saturday happened, and since I felt bad that I was dragging my same friend out to do nerdy things with me and take pictures of me doing nerdy things, I dragged another friend to a book panel with Lawrence Krauss talking about his book: A Universe from Nothing.
My friend and I got to the Kimmel Center about 20 minutes before the start of the talk. To our surprise, it was a small room with about 5 rows of comfortable chairs, and we were like the only people there. Then I realized, “Holy Shitballs, there are only like 40 people here to hear Lawrence Krauss talk about his book!”
Those chairs were comfy as hell, and we were really close to all of the action. My favorite part was how this was entirely free.
Here’s an action shot of Lawrence Krauss taken by my friend. His talk was basically describing the bare minimum of what he defined nothingness as and how it relates to the nature of the universe as described in the book. It was a pretty interesting talk filled with a lot of humor and questions from the audience.
I was really happy that he had the time to sign a copy of the book for everyone. During that time, he had a brief discussion with each person while he was writing a little note to them. He asked me if I was a student at NYU. I told him that I actually am a student at UChicago, to which he said something like, “Oh, I have a good friend who teaches at UChicago. It’s a great place.” He then proceeded to wish me luck on my studies in spoken word and in the note when he signed my copy of his book.
Thank you for coming to hear me. Good luck in your studies.
I was really happy I got to go to this book conference thing. I didn’t expect it to be so informal and lighthearted. Nor did I expect to have even a brief conversation with a guy who I’ve only ever seen talk about physics on youtube and read his other book, always admiring his work from afar. The last thing I said to him was, “You’re really hilarious,” which felt dorky and meaningless, but man, he really is a funny, down to earth, smart guy! And that’s all I could say under pressure, haha.
Before we showed up to the talk, my friend and I went to go purchase E.O. Wilson’s new book, A Social Conquest of Earth, which I am elegantly showcasing here. I made a post about it on Cosmic to Quantum once, and I was really excited to get my hands on it. I am in the process of reading it and A Universe from Nothing (and loving both of them, if I may add). I am actually considering doing book reviews for Cosmic to Quantum over the summer since I’m going to be around for awhile longer.
And Finally, on Sunday, I went with my friend from Thursday and Friday to the World Science Festival Street Fair at Washington Square Park. We saw a couple of performances from different universities and institutions that were more family-oriented, but nonetheless enjoyable for all levels of science interest. There, I managed to get a couple of neat shots.
At the Math Midway, I learned that there is apparently a new Math Museum opening up in the city called MoMath opening on December 15th. I’m really eager to check it out whenever I’ll have the chance to.
This is my friend, Interrupting Bug Guy. He’s kind of like Interrupting Kanye, but he just pops up in every other performance or wherever I’m walking to make it difficult for me to get from one place to another. Here he is bothering piano street performer guy who is at the park on the weekends. Interrupting motherfucker.
I also got a pretty good shot of a dinosaur walking by with who I assume to be Crownedrose (el o el just kiddin’ It’s a guy guiding another guy in a giant dinosaur costume.) It was still cool as hell, though.
And finally, me with a map showing off my v-neck exposed temporary tattoo I got on Saturday.
I would like to thank my friends Charlie and Shan for providing me with their company and their iPhones to make this little recap possible. I would also like to thank whoever stuck around long enough to read this entire thing. You’re cool, and thanks for bearing with me and my lack of posting lately. I hope this keeps you guys busy enough or at least willing to ask or submit anything to Cosmic to Quantum. See you soon!