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Illusion Chasers

Illusion Chasers


Illusions, Delusions, and Everyday Deceptions
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The Storytelling of Science

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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On March 20th, we attended a surprising event at the recently Arizona State University Origins Project (@asuORIGINS, Facebook/ASUOriginsProject , origins.project@asu.edu) directed by Lawrence Krauss. A sold out crowd of 3000 crowded into the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed ASU Gammage Theater. I was surprised because I thought they would talk about the science of storytelling—you know, the structure of a narrative, how emotions drive a story and how storytellers manipulate our brains to express specific emotions at specific times to achieve drama, etc—but instead, it was about how scientists tell the story of discovery. The panel included Bill Nye the science guy, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, theoretical physicist Brian Greene, Science Friday’s Ira Flatow, popular science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, executive director of the World Science Festival Tracy Day, in addition to Origins Project director Lawrence Krauss.

They each told a science story that helped form their interest in science, though Neil deGrasse Tyson stole the show when he did a striptease to reveal his “A Starry Night” undershirt, which he claimed was the first painting that showcased the night sky as the central element… a watershed moment in astronomy.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the event was the crowd. A rowdy rock’n’roll mosh pit that was there to cheer on their favorite public science personality. That was truly a sight to see. Next time you are in Phoenix, don’t forget to check out the ASU Origins Project to see what’s on stage: they are events worth seeing.

 

Stephen L. Macknik About the Author: Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik are laboratory directors at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Follow on Twitter @illusionchasers.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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