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Brian Greene is one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists and a brilliant, entertaining communicator of cutting-edge scientific concepts. A Professor of Physics and of Mathematics at Columbia University, Greene has been described by The Washington Post as “the single best explainer of abstruse concepts in the world today.”
Greene is the author of three acclaimed books -- The Elegant Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos, and The Hidden Reality -- which have collectively sold over two million copies, been translated into more than 40 languages, and spent 65 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. His books are also the basis of two Emmy and Peabody Award-winning NOVA miniseries, both of which Greene hosted.
Greene's illustrated novella Icarus at the Edge of Time, adapted for live symphonic presentation with an original score by Philip Glass, premiered at Lincoln Center and has been performed over 50 times worldwide. Greene's work for the stage, Light Falls, traces Einstein's discovery of General Relativity, and features an original score by House of Cards composer Jeff Beal and visual design by the Tony Award winning team from 59 Productions.
Together with journalist Tracy Day, Greene is the co-founder of The World Science Festival, which brings cutting edge science programming to broad audiences. The Festival's live flagship events, in New York and Australia, have reached an audience of over two million, and more than 50 million have experienced the Festival's offerings online.
A Harvard graduate and a Rhodes Scholar, Greene is a frequent television guest, joining Stephen Colbert eight times and playing himself in an episode of The Big Bang Theory. He has also had cameo roles in a number of Hollywood films including Frequency, Maze, and The Last Mimzy.
Greene is currently director of Columbia University's Center for Theoretical Physics.
FACING UP: THE COSMIC PERSPECTIVE
There was a time when humankind imagined the Earth, and all that happens here, was the center of the universe. In the late 1500s, Copernicus changed that, arguing that the Sun is central. Ever since, we have suffered one demotion after another: the Sun is but one star located in the outskirts of but one galaxy, which is itself but one of hundreds of billions of galaxies scattered across the known universe. We are also newcomers. Were the history of the universe compressed into a single calendar year, recorded human history would comprise the last ten minutes before the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. These realizations can make us feel insignificant. But they also provide a stirring perspective, developed in this presentation, in which every day personal concerns are witnessed against a cosmic landscape, painted by the human mind, which has penetrated the inner world of atoms and reached out to the very edges of space and time.
CHASING REALITY: EINSTEIN’S DREAM AND BEYOND
Building upon his own revolutionary breakthroughs, as well as those of earlier ages, Albert Einstein dreamed of finding a single theory — perhaps encapsulated by a single mathematical equation — that would be able to explain all of nature’s forces. Einstein spent 30 years in valiant pursuit of the unified theory but came up empty handed. In the decades since, physicists have picked up where Einstein left off, and have made great strides, with some of their most well-developed approaches involving strange ideas like microscopic strings, extra dimensions of space, and possibly even other universes. In this dispatch from the frontier of physics, audiences go on a whirlwind journey across 300 years of thinking, to experience the state-of-the art in the search for the deepest laws of the universe.
ABOUT TIME: what makes the universe tick?
The nature of time is an age-old conundrum for a spectrum of thinkers from physicists to philosophers and theologians. The Newtonian picture of time—a cosmic clock that ticks off time in a manner that applies identically to everyone and everything—aligns with our experience. But Einstein showed the fallacy inherent in experience: the rate at which time elapses depends on circumstance and environment. These discoveries raise even more basic, long-standing puzzles, explored in this presentation: What is time? Does time flow? Is it a fundamental feature of reality or something we humans impose on experience? Was there a beginning to time and will there be an end?
Big Science and the Future of Discovery
Some of the most influential breakthroughs of our age – from unraveling the realm of quantum particles to peering into deep realms of space and time – have required talents amassed through large international teams of researchers. We are in the era of big science. Not only have these pursuits profoundly advanced understanding, they provide powerful case studies for grasping the future of discovery: large, multinational collaborations tackling challenges with strong intellectual ties to fundamental questions. In this presentation, audiences grasp some of the hallmark qualities that will define those who lead: Dreaming big, leveraging diverse capacities, investing in basic foundational research, and eschewing quick returns in favor of long-term discovery.
THE CREATIVE SPARK: UNLEASHING THE DRIVE TO INNOVATE
Innovation, exploration, and discovery are deeply ingrained in human nature, and the keys to their success transcend disciplines. Professor Greene uses three stories from the frontiers of science to examine how essential features — staying the course while shedding expectations, maintaining individuality while working collaboratively, accepting failure while pushing for success — can coalesce into breathtaking results. Sparking new insights, this presentation explores how we can unleash our innate drive to innovate.
Science Matters: Inspiring creativity & DISCOVERY
For many, science brings to mind memories of a difficult or boring or irrelevant or intimidating subject once studied in school but long since left behind. To be sure, we all value the fruits of science and technology, but science itself is, for many, best left to the scientists. Which is tragic. Science is our species’ most dramatic story of discovery, calling upon our deepest capacity for creativity and ingenuity. Instilling this perspective calls for a radical shift, in which science moves from the outskirts to the center of culture. In this talk, audiences explore key breakthroughs in science and grasp how abstract discovery can impact the all-too-human quest to understand how we fit into the cosmos.
BREAKTHROUGH THINKING: STORIES FROM THE FRONTIERS OF DISCOVERY
During the past hundred years, our understanding of the universe has been subject to three revolutionary upheavals that have swept away thousands of years of conventional thought. These discoveries put into sharp relief the creative reasoning that shatters conventional wisdom and synthesizes new approaches and new answers to the most perplexing of puzzles. By showing the impact of questioning hidden assumptions, the power of asking the seeming simple-minded questions to which everyone already “knows” the answer, and the value of melding diverse viewpoints to produce what no single perspective could yield on its own, this talk illustrates the key elements of breakthrough thinking within the fascinating narrative of modern physics.
Icarus: At the Edge of Time
In an evening of art and science, world-renowned physicist Dr. Brian Greene adapts and transforms the mythical flight of Icarus into a theory-driven adventure, Icarus: At the Edge of Time. Melding state-of-the-art visual effects, an original orchestral score by Philip Glass, and Greene’s own passion for helping audiences of all ages discover the secrets of the universe, Icarus is a performance that has the same edge of your seat quality of a sci-fi quest, yet one that is grounded by real world science.
About the Program…
Icarus: At the Edge of Time takes audiences on a journey through scientific wonder and Icarus: At the Edge of Time takes audiences on a journey through scientific wonder and high-speed adventure. Dr. Brian Greene opens the show by introducing the science of relativity and black holes and the possibility of time travel that they offer. With that as a launching pad, Greene brings the science to vivid life, narrating his own futuristic version of the flight of Icarus, in which a young astronaut challenges the awesome might of a black hole. Featuring a live orchestral accompaniment and a visually arresting video feature, the evening is an experience of film, music, and science that is not to be missed.