Seven Things to Do at the 2015 Cambridge Science Festival
As the Mecca of geekdom—the birthplace of nuclear engineering, biotech, minicomputers, and the smoot—MIT’s Kendall Square campus and its Cambridge surroundings are a natural home for a 10-day festival devoted to all things scientific. This year, the Cambridge Science Festival (April 17-26) returns to MIT and beyond, with a brain-boggling assortment of events to remind us that it’s science’s world; we’re just living in it. Here are a few highlights.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity—which Einstein unveiled in 1915, incidentally paving the way for the invention of the atom bomb—this year’s Science Festival features an entire “Celebrating Einstein” series. The fest kicks off with “Speaking of Einstein,” which assembles a panel of physics luminaries to talk E = mc2.
$10 ($5 students), April 17, 7:30-9:30 p.m., First Parish in Cambridge, 1446 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge.
The Science Fest tells us: “Prepare yourself…for a Carnival of the Sciences!”, which sounds like something a syringe-waving Vincent Price might bark at you after strapping you onto a hospital gurney. But this is not a mad science carnival, so instead you’re getting a kiddie-friendly robot petting zoo, featuring mechanical critters from the likes of US FIRST, iRobot, and Lincoln Laboratory, as well as the “soft, squishy robots” from the Harvard Biodesign Lab.
Free, April 18, 12-4 p.m., Cambridge Rindge & Latin Field House, Cambridge Public Library, Broadway and Ellery St., Cambridge.
Surpassing even Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! on the nerdiness scale, WBUR’s You’re the Expert is like a science-feting What’s My Line? The premise: A panel of comedians attempts to divine an academic researcher’s field of expertise. If you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Wyatt Cenac and Sarah Vowell grilling someone about, say, why hips are so important, how amnesiacs play Tetris, or the bacteria of the NYC subway system, don’t pass up this opportunity, brought to you by the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival.
$25, April 18, 6-7:30 p.m., Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge.
Definitions of the word “slurry”: 1) a substance that’s a mixture of solids and liquids; 2) the quality of our speech after we knock back a few cocktails at Ames Street Deli. Ames is no stranger to geekery. Earlier this month, they launched their monthly Science Mondays series, which co-owner Diana Kudayarova describes as “part science quiz, part live comedy, and part lab project gone mad.” This weekend, the folks at this Kendall Square haunt are planning to blind us with materials science by whipping up some “tasty, edible demos that double as cooking lessons.”
Free, April 18, 10 a.m-12 p.m., Ames Street Deli, 3 Ames St., Cambridge.
Behold, the stuff nerd dreams are made of: The Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival strikes again, bringing Bill Nye—the hero of ’90s children who spent their formative years glued to PBS—to the Shubert, where he and comedian co-hosts Rachel Dratch and Eugene Mirman will talk about life, the universe, and everything. You can even ask him how magnets work. Unlike Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, Nye knows this one.
$30, April 19, 7-9 p.m., Shubert Theater, 265 Tremont St., Boston.
UK 2011 census data showed that, across the pond, more people identify as Jedi Knights than they do Scientologists. Now, maybe most of those 390,127 Jedis are taking the piss. But Star Wars does seem to provoke a singularly religious kind of fandom fervor—after all, what other series would inspire someone to camp outside a movie theater for 139 days? Could it actually be a religion? The folks behind Harvard Divinity School’s Cosmologics are inviting you to discuss the idea over beers, following it up with a screening of The People vs. George Lucas.
Free, April 22, 6-11 p.m., Aeronaut Brewery, 14 Tyler St., Somerville.
This is no normcore pub crawl. This is a Cambridge Science Festival pub crawl. Which means it’s a nine-location bonanza of exuberant, boozy lab-grade weirdness, from “Channeling Your Inner Pool Shark: The Physics of Billiards” at Flat Top Johnny’s to “Microflora in Brewing” at Cambridge Brewing Company. And if you’re tired of trying to hack OKCupid’s algorithms, try “Nerd Speed Dating,” where you can bust out your “space pants” pickup line—and it might actually help you find your statistically significant other.
Free, April 23, 5:30-9 p.m., various locations in Cambridge.