For A Good Time In Cambridge (This Thursday)
Yo! Local Juicers — if you’ve reserved Thursday evening for watching paint dry, I have an alternative.
I’m going to be moderating a really excellent iteration of the MIT Communications Forum — this time co-sponsored by our city-wide celebration Hub Week.
I’ll be very lightly riding herd on Annalee Newitz and Charles C. Mann as they wonder about how (and whether) study of the past can help us prepare for the future — with the possibility of apocalypse included.
Both are wonderful writers and thinkers. Annalee was the founding editor of io9, and is now Gizmodo’s Grand Poobah. She’s written Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction, which was, inter alia, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. She’s at work now on a history of the city (and its possible future) — and more besides.
Charles has been producing erudite and elegant science writing for yonks*. He’s perhaps best known for 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus which won the the National Academies of Sciences Keck award as best popular science book of the year. He followed that up with 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, and is at work now on The Wizard and the Prophet, which he describes as a book about the future which makes no predictions. (Yogi would approve.)
Time: 5-7 p.m., Thursday, October 8.
Place: MIT Building 3, room 270. Interactive map here.
PS: If you’re into some long distance planning, I’ve got a couple of events coming up in support of my long-teased new book, The Hunt for Vulcan: and how Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe. The book is timed to the centennial of Einstein’s discovery of the General Theory of Relativity, which he completed in November, 1915, and it gets to that striking moment through a marvelous oddity of a story from 19th century solar-system astronomy, the repeated discovery of a planet that should have existed, but didn’t. The appearance and then vanishing of the planet Vulcan is not just a curiosity, (or so it seems to me), as its history reveals a great deal about what it takes for science really to change under the pressure of inconvenient fact.
Anyway — the book comes out on Tuesday, November 3, and we are in the midst of planning a launch event at the MIT Museum. That will most likely run from 6-7:30, with details to come soon.
*Yonks being a unit of measure of time roughly equal to more than you thought.
Image: Pieter Brueghel the Elder, The Tower of Babel, 1563