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Nature of Things is Sharing Science Stories

Monday, January 23, 2012


SALT LAKE CITY – A vibrant raconteur of scientific concepts, physicist Dr. Brian Greene, will headline the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah’s Nature of Things lecture series as it sets about “Sharing Science Stories” during its 2012 season. Over the course of four lecture events, master science storytellers working in a variety of different media will share amazing science stories and discuss the challenges of communicating complex, nuanced scientific ideas to a mass audience. 

Greene’s lecture, “Why Science Matters,” is at Kingsbury Hall on Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. All tickets are $10. 

In addition to Greene, who has penned several bestselling books on the universe and hosted two NOVA series about the cosmos on PBS, the series will feature three free lectures: biologist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson on Feb. 9 at the Salt Lake City Main Library; Reuters Senior Science and Health Correspondent Sharon Begley on March 22 at the Salt Lake City Main Library; and Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich from public radio’s Radiolab on April 3 at the Natural History Museum of Utah at the Rio Tinto Center.

All lectures can be heard live on the radio on KCPW, 88.3 and 105.3 on the FM dial, the media partner for the entire lecture series.

Through its exhibits, programming, education and research, storytelling is vital to the Museum in communicating scientific concepts that illuminate the natural world to the public. This year’s Nature of Things speakers will couple complex scientific ideas with engaging storytelling to demonstrate the transformative power generated by the collision between great science and great storytelling.

“There is a powerful need for increasing science literacy in this country, and communicating science is an important skill that these engaging speakers can demonstrate,” noted Museum Director Sarah George. “From an award-winning journalist, to a scientist-turned-filmmaker, this series covers all different types of media featuring speakers of varying backgrounds, and all of whom are great communicators of scientific concepts.”

A physicist, string theorist and author of several books, including The Elegant Universe, Greene is one of the worlds’ leading theoretical physicists, and a brilliant, entertaining communicator of cutting-edge scientific concepts. The Washington Post described him as “the single best explainer of abstruse concepts in the world today.”  Greene’s lecture, “Why Science Matters,” will explore some of the biggest mysteries of space and time providing audiences a visceral understanding of why science matters.

An independent filmmaker, Olson also holds a Ph.D in biology. His lecture, “Storytelling: Clear Proof Scientists Descended from Humans,” will investigate the crucial role that storytelling plays in the mass communication of science. As a correspondent for Reuters, Begley has followed the discoveries that helped neuroscience evolve to where it is today. Her topic, “Neuroplasticity: New Stories about Your Brain” shares exciting stories behind the discoveries, including a scientist who thinks he can cure dyslexia, a blind Turkish painter, and the Dalai Lama.

The hosts of public radio’s Radiolab will wrap up the lecture series with a lecture event titled “Making Tricky Science into Sticky Stories.”  Abumrad and Krulwich will open up their playbook in the lobby of the Museum to share some of their secrets for taking the complex and confusing that shrouds science, and turning it into the profound and memorable.

Nature of Things lecture series is underwritten by the R. Harold Burton Foundation.

The Natural History Museum of Utah, located at the University of Utah, is one of the leading scientific research and cultural institutions in the Intermountain West. Established in 1963, the Museum cares for over 1.2 million objects and offers innovative exhibitions and educational programs to thousands of residents and visitors each year, including traveling and permanent exhibits, special events and other programs.  The Museum also offers a variety of outreach programs to communities and schools throughout Utah, reaching every school district in the state annually. The Museum has an active research program with more than 30 scientists and 10 field expeditions each year.

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