November 30, 2003 § Leave a comment

In an interview near the end of his life Trane was asked to identify the
person he respected most. He replied “Albert Einstein”. Coltrane’s spiritual quest through music balanced improvisational allusions to Eastern and African symbolic forms with the theory of general relativity and cosmology.

Stephon Alexander, a cosmologist and musician at Stanford, will talk of the relationship between Coltrane’s approach to jazz improvisation and the theory of general relativity and quantum gravity. And he will play a few pieces on sax, some of Trane, as well as Stephon’s own compositions, which explore this connection. He’ll be accompanied by Papa Smurf, a freestyle rapper, and a percussionist.

Storyteller Sharon Glassman was recently asked to investigate the current culture of Einstein in Princeton for Seed Magazine. She’ll debut her upcoming essay — including questions about Einstein’s second violin, extremist fans, and a long-debated Einstein statue-in-progress to be erected in 2005 on E=MC Square.


November 2, 2003 § Leave a comment

Without it there would be no life, no rainbows, no blue planet. After our first nine months in water heaven, we emerge to find this resource in jeopardy. David Wolfe, Cornell professor of ecology and author of “Tales From the Underground: A Natural History of Subterranean Life,” begins our story with a poetic twist, including a remarkable contribution from James Joyce. Seattle-based photographer Alexis Wolfe continues with a visual perspective. Then Uri Shani from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem tells of the “miracle” of water flowing upward from roots to leaves in tall trees, no pump in sight. And wonders why nature requires such a huge expenditure of precious water by the plant kingdom.

Judy Joice and Murray Weinstock, who perform regularly at the Café with Stu Woods on bass, will bring us songs of the gentleness of water rolling in and tickling your toes, of the neglect and abuse of water as well as its healing powers, through Blues, Gospel and Jazz compositions.


October 5, 2003 § Leave a comment

Several years ago David Grimaldi of the American Museum of Natural History, curated a wonderful exhibition on this unique organic material that survives millennia. And gives us a clear window on the invertebrate past. He will show spectacular images of insects in amber, in conversation with Alex Shedrinsky, a New York chemical detective, who will reveal amber forgeries (don’t bring in your necklaces, please, unless you are strong). Alex will also show some of the first pictures of the restored Amber Room of Catherine’s Palace near St. Petersburg.

An insect, trapped — a two word description of a 20th century literary masterpiece. Can you guess what it is? We’ll hear a piece of it. Unless we are diverted on the low road to another kind of masterpiece…


September 7, 2003 § Leave a comment

A father-son literary-musical exploration of the heart and allied precious organs.

Award winning novelist and medical writer Jay Neugeboren, talks about the before, during, and after of his emergency quintuple bypass heart surgery; of how, after two doctors missed the diagnosis, his life was saved by several doctor friends, one of whom, from 3000 miles away, got the diagnosis right, and of what Jay learned about the nature of disease and diagnosis, the state of contemporary health care, and the doctor-patient relationship.

Appearing with Jay will be at least one of these friends–Gerald Friedland, Director of AIDS programs, clinical and research, at Yale-New Haven Hospital and Medical School. Moving north and south, from the heart to other vital organs, Jay’s son Eli will appear as lead singer for The Organ Donors, a rock group that features several sexy nurses (The Percadettes), funky beats, psychedelic guitar riffs, singalong choruses, litanies of symptoms, and slapstick, porno science rap.


August 3, 2003 § Leave a comment

The Internet and the ubiquity of personal computers have changed the way human beings relate, and changed the way we think about machines. Choreographer/singer Christopher Caines will perform dream.screen, a solo work in progress for voice, electronics, and percussion that examines the effects of Web-mediated communication on language and emotion. And Hod Lipson, a computer scientist and engineer at Cornell will
talk (and show some video clips) on his new work on evolutionary robotics.


June 1, 2003 § Leave a comment

What do a glass bubble, a math problem, Global Positioning Systems, and a novel made into song have in common? Taking off from the Surrealist “Exquisite Corpse” drawing game, the participants — Jill Reynolds, a glass artist and sculptor who references science, Robert Berkman, mathematician and teacher, Jonathan Levi, writer and musician, and Greg Lock, a sculptor who uses GPS data to invent virtual objects, will make the connections.

Nancy Manter, daughter of an artist and medical scientist, will begin the evening by sharing her own set of dots, while introducing the individual presentations.


May 4, 2003 § Leave a comment

The Shavian serpent’s “You see things and you say ‘Why?’, but I dream things that never were and say, ‘Why Not,” might just be a reflection on the difference between science and engineering. Or an argument for transgressing, in the service of creation, the natural/unnatural boundary.

Nadrian Seeman of NYU, who builds nanoscopic stick figures, devices and patterned arrays out of DNA, and choreographer Rachel Cohen and artist Agata Oleksiak, who play with potential and actuality of the human body through movement, clown and mask, costume, and film, explore this theme in Roald Hoffmann’s May 4 Entertaining Science at the Cornelia Street Café.


April 6, 2003 § Leave a comment

By what seeming magic is music invented and played? How, exactly (or not), is it perceived and experienced? Swedish neurophysiologist and concert pianist Fredrik Ullén will play, and discuss his studies of how the brain controls music performance.

In this evening of action and reflection on music, he will be joined by Carol Krumhansl, a cognitive scientist from Cornell, who will tell us of her fascinating work on tension and emotion in music, testing the psychological reality of proposals from music theory. They will ask (but not answer) the question of why music plays such an important role in the human experience.


March 2, 2003 § Leave a comment

Malleable, reflective, conducting, magnetic or not – metals have fascinated humanity. And led to music and art, in several ways. On this metallic evening, see sculptor Daniel Brush’s images of his gold and steel works, and listen to Oliver Sacks, whose recent book is “Uncle Tungsten”, as he speaks of and demonstrates some real heavy metals. Composer and musician Elliott Sharp will play some apposite music on a steel guitar, and Roald Hoffmann may broach the gamma brass problem.


February 2, 2003 § Leave a comment

This evening of biological song and dance features a mother and son act — microbiologist Helen Davies, an award-winning professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and her son, Vancouver filmmaker Daniel Conrad.

Conrad left a career in molecular immunology to make experimental dance films (full of biological metaphor) for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and documentaries on connections between art and science for PBS and Bravo. He will show two short dance films and explain how films are structured like organisms (an idea first proposed by Sergei Eisenstein). Davies will talk and sing (gasp!) about leprosy, gonorrhea, herpes, dengue fever, and other infectious diseases. Song sheets (properly autoclaved) will be handed out, so the audience can sing with her.

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