Categorically Not! – Awesome

cat_not_optical_puzzleThe next Categorically Not! is this coming Sunday May 31st. The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with occasional exceptions). It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if you’re in the area. Here is the website that describes past ones, and upcoming ones. See also the links at the end of the post for some announcements and descriptions (and even video) of previous events. (Image above right is from the excellent Categorically Not! – Really? event back in April 2006, described in an earlier post here. It was all about illusion, with examples from the world of optical illusions, and from literature.)

The theme this month is Awesome. Here’s the description from K C Cole:

cat_not_may_speaker_2What inspires awe? Astrophysicist Adam Frank from the University of Rochester thinks “awe” is the common ground between science and spirit, and he’ll tell us why, drawing from his new book, The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate, which Publishers Weekly praised (in a starred review) as “light years beyond the stale standoff between uninspired scientific materialism and unscientific intelligent design.” Adam is a regular contributor to Discover and Astronomy and was awarded the science writing prize from the American Astronomical Society in 1999.

cat_not_may_speaker_3Almost all aspects of science are awe-inspiring, and the history of science seems to be one great awesome tale after another. Curator and historian Daniel Lewis will discuss (or perhaps argue about, but non-violently) the role of beauty in science, using his recent exhibit “Beautiful Science” at the Huntington Library as an object lesson in why it works (and doesn’t work) to talk about beauty and science in the same breath. The exhibit: “Beautiful Science: Ideas that Changed the World” highlights four areas for visitors to explore: astronomy, natural history, medicine, and light, showcasing some of science’s greatest achievements, from Ptolemy to Copernicus, Newton to Einstein. (He talked about some of this on NPR’s Talk of the Nation here.)

cat_not_may_speaker_1Perhaps nothing’s more awesome than magic, especially combined with, yes, math. Arthur Benjamin is a professor of mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and also a magician; he’s combined his passions for math and magic into what he calls mathemagics, which he’s performed on the Today Show, CNN, and, most important perhaps, Hollywood’s famed Magic Castle—the serious magician’s mecca. Art has written several books revealing his secrets, most recently Secrets of Mental Math: The Mathemagician’s Guide to Lightning Calculation and Amazing Math Tricks. But nothing prepares one for seeing him do magic with numbers. (Here’s a TED presentation from him.)

This program will take place at the series’ usual home, Santa Monica Art Studios. (Santa Monica Art Studios, 3026 Airport Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90405 map) Come at 6:00pm for refreshments and wander the studios. Program begins at 6:30pm. For more information and directions, please visit the website. Consider sending an RSVP to 310-397-7449 or Sabine [at] santamonicaartstudios [dot] com (but if you forget, don’t let that stop you from coming!!) They ask for a $5 donation to cover expenses.


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