December 1, 2002 § Leave a comment

Science will never seem more magical than on this evening. Koji Nakanishi and Ged Parkin are Columbia University chemists who will let the audience into at least two of their lives. While Nakanishi studies the intimate details of the chemistry of vision, Parkin figures out how inorganic catalysts do their wonders. And they are magicians. They’ll show a far from gullible audience how we see, or maybe don’t see, what is plainly in sight. And, extending the theme of mastery of mystery to sound, the one and only Pamelia Kurstin will play the Theremin.


November 3, 2002 § Leave a comment

No, not that perfect cheap apartment in the Village, but a quantum leap into the world of dance and science. For the stage of the Cornelia Street Café, only about a thousand times smaller than the Met’s, choreographer and dancer Diann Sichel has created a dance for Melanie Velo-Simpson and Josiah Pearsall, accompanied by singers Wendy Baker and Erik Kroncke. All are Tigers, of the Princeton species.

There will be music by percussionist Chacho Ramirez and flutist and composer Carolyn Steinberg, and poetry of dance by Ellen Goellner. And motion under constraint turns out to be a hot theme in chemistry and biology as well, as Roald Hoffmann, the host of the Entertaining Science series, will describe. The audience may be moved, and not only to ask questions.


October 6, 2002 § Leave a comment

So much more than changing “me” into “moi” or H2O into water, the act of translation is central to both art and science, and especially the busy borderlands between the two—a lively chit chat in which metaphor, emotion, number, image, argument are all part of the equation, all have something to add to the conversation.

Come and hear masterly translators Dava Sobel (“Longitude,” “Galileo’s Daughter”), K.C. Cole (“The Hole in the Universe,” “The Universe and the Teacup,”), cosmologist Marcelo Gleiser (“The Prophet and the Astronomer,” “The Dancing Universe,”) and chemist, poet and playwright Roald Hoffmann talk about the tricky (and treasonous?) art of transference through which thoughts turn into words, observations into theories—sometimes, even water into vin.


September 1, 2002 § Leave a comment

Human beings struggle to understand and represent the world’s deep structure through mathematics, science, art, music and poetry. On Sept. 1, yes, the evening before Labor Day, mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, largely responsible for fractal geometry, will show and discuss a few of his mathematical pictures. Some mimic mountains or clouds, while others are very complex and first shock but soon look oddly familiar, especially to the artist. He will wonder why, and ponder the everlasting struggle in our minds between the word and the picture. He will tell old and new stories of: iconoclasts and other humans, stories of reason and unreason, bold hope or despair, in the search for smoothness in a world that is in every way wildly rough.

Emily Grosholz, a poet and philosopher, will read some of her poems on mathematical themes. And Elliott Sharp, a composer and experimental musician inspired by fractals and mathematics, will show us what an electric guitar can do in an autoreferential mode. Join us for an exciting evening in Roald Hoffmann’s “Entertaining Science” series!


August 4, 2002 § Leave a comment

Telling stories is quintessentially human, a deep source of satisfaction in science as well as in music and life. As Roald Hoffmann’s Aug. 4 “Entertaining Science” program at the Cornelia Street Cafe will show. The evening will begin with chemist Mark Green telling us what George Washington, Adolph Hitler and an Egyptian pharaoh have to do with how helices tell left from right.

Singer, songwriter, and musician Eve Moon will entertain us with some story-telling songs. And writer/performer Sharon Glassman, who creates sparkling, witty, and sad monologues from almost-true stories, will explore the science of love from Cupid’s point of view. And Roald Hoffmann will reflect, briefly, on why stories are important to scientists, even as they don’t fess up to telling them.


July 7, 2002 § Leave a comment

Not only on Broadway, and not only by Ovid — musical and molecular metamorphoses are the themes of Roald Hoffmann’s July 7 “Entertaining Science” show at the Cornelia Street Café. Insects are the best chemists…. but have you ever wondered how they transform plant poisons into pheromones? How metamorphoses can be blocked to guarantee perpetual youth (well, actually perpetual immaturity)?

In another realm, how did J.S. Bach’s alchemy transmute elementary themes into musical masterpieces? Chemist Jerrold Meinwald, musicologist Charlotte Greenspan, and molecular biologist Joseph Arron team up to illuminate these and other metamorphic mysteries with a unique combination of words and live musical performance


June 2, 2002 § Leave a comment

Can the Big Bang tell us about life? Come Sunday, June 2, to the Cornelia Street Café and find out. Roald Hoffmann’s “Entertaining Science” series will a host a triple response: Leading cosmologist, Joel R. Primack (University of California, Santa Cruz), will talk about “Gravity, the Ultimate Capitalist Principle.” Nancy Abrams, Cosmic Troubadour, will perform several songs from her new CD, “Alien Wisdom.” And NYU physicist, Richard Brandt, 3-time international Tae Kwon Do champion, ten times on the David Letterman show, will show us the tie between the physics of sports and the universe.


April 7, 2002 § Leave a comment

Strewing the world with all the wonders of its creation, the human brain remains the most splendid mystery. Come on April 7 to the Cornelia Street Café, where Roald Hoffmann will host three perspectives on the brain’s richesse in the “Entertaining Science” series. Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux will talk about his work and ideas on the Synaptic Self. British theatre artist Jack Klaff will interweave reflections on improvisational comedy and screen acting with insights from his other profession: science communicator. Central to the evening will be writer extraordinaire Diane Ackerman’s poetic fantasias on what’s so magical about what the brain does, and why/how Shakespeare’s brain was different.


March 3, 2002 § Leave a comment

What do Schopenhauer, DNA and electronic drum music have in common? Come and find out in the March 3 ”Entertaining Science” program curated by Roald Hoffmann at the Cornelia Street Café (March 3, 6PM). Schopenhauer’s striking thesis that the world is driven by a “blind will” is related to the drive of “selfish genes” to propagate themselves in a remarkable, poetic exposition by Swedish-Hungarian writer and tumor biologist George Klein.

Lukas Ligeti, a talented young Austrian composer and musician (with Hungarian roots, recently moved to New York) will play some apposite electronic music of his own (joined by a friend in part), influenced by African musical traditions. And the participants will then enter with Roald Hoffmann in a discussion, with some Hungarian and American poetry read. It may even be that Edgar Allen Poe will put in an appearance.


February 3, 2002 § Leave a comment

When one considers that human beings still regularly slam their thumbs with hammers, it should come as no surprise that our attempts to unravel nature’s profoundest truths might include comedy. In fact, some science and more than a few scientists are funny. Or at least do funny things.

As part of the “Entertaining Science” series, Feb. 3, at 6 PM, at the Cornelia Street Café, Roald Hoffmann hosts four takes on humor in science, featuring Marc Abrahams, editor of the science humor journal Annals of Improbable Research and Impresario of the Ig Nobel prizes; Jim Lyttle, a management professor at Long Island University, who studies the science of humor itself, including the brain’s processing of funny stuff, Lynda Williams, the Physics Chanteuse, and Steve Mirsky, Scientific American magazine’s humor columnist (which he likens to making the best sloppy joes at the culinary institute)

The evening will be funny. Seriously.

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