I love learning about random things. But more than that, I love learning about random things from people who have devoted their lives to it. These people always bring with their explanations a passion and a sparkle that restore my faith in academic research and inspire me to learn more. Thankfully, New York is a fantastic place to come into contact with academics; here are the places I go to when I want to learn something (also everything is free!):
Columbia University (obviously the best university in the world) holds astrophysics lectures and stargazing sessions once a month. You can learn something interesting about the stars and how they’re formed and then look through the telescope on top of Pupin Hall and find some bright ones. It’s a really fun thing to do and pretty much the only way to see stars in our brightly-lit big city. Also note that Pupin Hall was where the Manhattan Project began so check that off your bucket list!
I was super excited when I found out about the Secret Science Club. The Secret Science Club brings some of the world’s best scientists to the Bell House in Brooklyn once a month. The scientist gives a lecture, answers questions from the audience, and then hangs out in the crowd afterward. Every lecture also comes with a themed cocktails. I’ve learned a huge amount of stuff like where language comes from and how to program a computer to see.
I’ve loved the American Museum of Natural History since I was a kid. But only now have I started attending the excellent SciCafes. These are held on the first Wednesday of every month and cover a large range of different topics such as the recent discovery of different bacteria species on the NYC subway as well as why it’s better to walk on two feet. You can also buy drinks here.
Finally, NYC is home to the World Science Festival, which takes place this year from May 27-May 31. It’s a crazy awesome few days with lectures and street-fairs. The lectures are divided into big town-hall style gatherings and smaller sessions with many opportunities for questions. One of my favorites is the Flame Challenge, where scientists have to think of a way to explain a concept to 11-year-olds.
So if you want to learn something while in NYC, there are lots of places to go!
Featured Image by NASA