December 1, 2013 § Leave a comment


The Village Voice has written that Jason Moran “is like no other pianist at work. His improvisations are dynamic, eruptive, keyed to the compositions at hand.” So what happens when he joins up with Ben Holtzman (a geophysicist) and Jason Candler (a sound designer) who rescale the world so we can perceive all seismic waves with our ears? And then what happens when Moran’s playing converses with the sounds of earthquakes ? Join us for an evening of terrestrial immersion, co-seismic piano, and all the questions that emerge.



November 3, 2013 § Leave a comment


Evolutionary patterns often undergo “explosive” radiation of groups with major differences in form and function, and then within those groups, the origin of many new species with relatively minor changes around those major themes. Joel Cracraft, Curator of Ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History, will discuss the origin of the wonderful, spectacular birds of paradise, as examples. He’ll address how these findings rely on interpretation of the scale of time and space within the fossil record.

The pacing of the fossil record will be reinterpreted by Soldier Kane, a duo of legendary drummer Jonathan Kane and Entertaining Science’s own Dave Soldier. Jonathan Kane co-founded Swans, widely acknowledged as the slowest band in the history of rock music, and for many years was drummer for LaMonte Young, the founder of minimalist music, in his Forever Bad Blues Band. Kane’s current group, February, is often described as “tectonic”. The new duo with Soldier plunders the great American songbook with Jonathan on drums and guitar and Dave on violin, and the concert will feature their reinterpretation of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies” about the American bluebird.


October 6, 2013 § Leave a comment


“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” — Leonardo da Vinci has allegedly said. How does nature resolve this paradox? The appearance of simplicity of a system is a consequence of such an intricate network of interactions of its parts that the whole appears to be so perfectly unified that… nothing that can be added to or taken away from it. That is what the philosophers of Antiquity referred to as “organic,” and scientists and artists alike have been trying to define it ever since. Artist Rebecca Kamen and biologist Ilya Tëmkin explore the beauty of complexity in networks ranging from the human brain to the cosmos and propose a modest revision of contemporary evolutionary theory.


September 1, 2013 § Leave a comment


Mezzo-soprano Stephanie McGuire and pianist Noby Ishida will explore beauty in music, through art songs set to poems of Langston Hughes, and some arias from rarely performed operas of Handel and Tchaikovsky. Of music and art, we rightly expect beauty, but could chemists aspire to loveliness in molecules? Chemist Roald Hoffmann will reflect on the native aesthetics of his tribe. Join us for a contemplation of beauty in music and science.


June 9, 2013 § Leave a comment


MARS! With its spectacular geographical features, Mars has always attracted the imagination of human beings. Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles,” a classic of science fiction, is the inspiration for a music theater adaptation by composer Daniel Levy and librettist Elizabeth Margid. We will preview this musical journey into “a past that’s yet to come” to witness the longing and loneliness inherent in Earth’s conquest of the red planet. Professor Jim Bell, of Arizona State University and Cornell, an active planetary scientist, has been as close to Mars as any human being, through his leading role in the Mars rovers Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity missions. He will show us some of the startling and haunting images from his books “Postcards from Mars” and “The Space Book”, showcasing the surface of the terrestrial planet not that far away from us.


May 12, 2013 § Leave a comment


Alan Kushan performs on a self-constructed instrument – there are indeed universes under construction, for you, in the string resonances of its trapezoidal box. Universes are also built in the work of Lam Hui, a cosmologist at Columbia. The cosmos, the big bang, is his playground. Join us on a journey of music and the universe, of the santur and a sun tour.


April 14, 2013 § Leave a comment


Nature on paper and the nature of paper

The American Museum of Natural History is home not only to dioramas and tens of millions of zoological and geologic specimens and anthropologic artifacts, but also to a world class research library containing extraordinary illustrated books.

Indeed, natural history books have long been the way people could learn about the world beyond their own backyard, and the only way scientists in the pre-photographic era could consistently share new information and discoveries.

Tom Baione, the Boeschenstein Director of the AMNH Library, talks about some of the library’s seldom-seen treasures, as highlighted in Natural histories: extraordinary rare book selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library.

Barbara Rhodes, an historian and expert conservator in the AMNH’s Research Library, will discuss the nature of paper, of books, and the varied ways that have evolved to bind them. She will also provide some guidelines as to how people can preserve their personal collections.

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