Rock Stars of Science at Origins Symposium
Rusty-red rocks against an electric blue sky were an exact color match for the mix of brilliant intellect I knew to be in Phoenix on Monday. I had just flown into Sky Harbor Airport from Minneapolis, and any Minnesotan will tell you that we don’t waste a day like that indoors. It was a sparkling spring morning alive with color and radiant sunshine. But I happily joined 3,000 other science fans inside a dark auditorium for a full twelve-hour day of physics, cosmology, biology and more.
You didn’t hear about it? It was the much anticipated and sold out public event called the Origins Symposium. The media may not report it, because they don’t get science. But regular, everyday people do and are hungry for it. We came to hear the new, and what we know will be stunning, discoveries about how the world works. We filled up the concert hall on the campus at Arizona State with anticipation.
Monday morning began with an amazing line up of rock star status scientists who spoke for an hour, one after another. Does lecture style delivery at a podium with PowerPoint visuals on a large screen sound boring to you? Not a bit—it was mesmerizing for five hours straight. Steven Pinker, Don Johanson, Brian Greene, Richard Dawkins, Craig Venter, and Lawrence Krauss presented their unique views on evolution, origins and their research with charismatic delivery. We laughed and cheered and bonded knowing we were witnessing an historic event. As the late afternoon panel of six, count ’em, six noble laureates came on stage, we stayed right where we were. Ira Flatow, the nationally known science journalist and host of Science Friday, expertly juggled the egos and zingers that the physicists on either side of string theory tossed at each other.
Listening to these brilliant minds was like hearing a symphony performed by the original composer. The world of ideas and the appreciation of beauty is an aesthetic artists share with scientists. This trans-disciplinary approach is one that Michael Crow, President of ASU, and Lawrence Krauss, physicist and director of the “Origins Initiative” are developing. Along with college courses, the Initiative will also reach out to the public and journalists through workshops and future events.
Between presentations, I noticed how many in the audience were curious about the people around them. We found each other interesting and smart. We’re creating a trend, riding a wave of discovery, taking part in a cultural transition don’t ya know. Many people told me how relieved they were to see our intellectual lives respected after eight years of oppression.
So with spring and science in the air, I felt a little giddy heading back to Minneapolis. I’ll revisit my bookmarked pages at the Origins web site during the year, watching how the Initiative develops and hoping to catch next year’s big event.
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 7:41 am and is filed under Features, Science. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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