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Laser Show and ‘Big Ideas’ kick off 2010 Cambridge Science Festival

More than 200 events for the public April 24 through May 2

An extraordinary laser show specially commissioned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser will officially launch the fourth annual Cambridge Science Festival at noon on Saturday, April 24, in the newly renovated Cambridge Public Library.

The laser show will take place as part of the hugely popular “science carnival,” which will also feature 89 booths of experiments and demonstrations plus free shuttle service from the Harvard, Kendall and Central Square Red Line MBTA stations. Hundreds of events, almost all of them free, will follow over the course of the nine-day festival.

“What better place to celebrate all things scientific than right here in Cambridge, home to many of the greatest scientists and engineers in the world,” said festival founder and MIT Museum Director John Durant. “No place else on Earth has the concentration of superstar researchers, science- and math-based companies and big ideas. The Cambridge Science Festival is a way for the whole community to get involved with the globally significant work going on all around us. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!”

New this year and sure to be a hit is “Big Ideas for Busy People,” a series of quick, eye-popping presentations talks by some of Cambridge's finest thinkers. The free event, which begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 23, at The Laboratory at Harvard, will feature talks by Lisa Randall, Ed Boyden, Nicholas Christakis, George Church, Alan Guth, Marc Hauser, Rebecca Saxe, Peter Galison, Angela Belcher and Pardis Sabeti. Each talk will last five minutes, plus five minutes for questions; a reception with speakers will follow.

On Friday, April 30, drugmaker Pfizer and The Broad Institute will present “Advances in Biomedicine: From Bench to Bedside,” an evening of engaging discussion and debate on how pioneering scientific discoveries are translated into true medical progress. On Saturday, May 1, MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences will open its doors and welcome families to “Brainia!” — a hands-on exploration of how the brain works. And at noon every weekday of the festival, everyone is welcome at the MIT Museum for “Lunch with a Laureate” — a brown-bag lunch discussion featuring a different Nobel laureate each day.

Inspired by art, music and film festivals, the Cambridge Science Festival is a multifaceted, multicultural event that promises to make science accessible and engaging, highlighting the impact of science and technology in our day-to-day lives and beyond. Its offerings include adult-only debates, presentations and receptions, as well as family-focused activities and teen events including a video contest. Last year’s festival attracted more than 30,000 visitors to its workshops, demonstrations, behind-the-scenes tours, talks, performances, film screenings, and more. For the full schedule of events, visit

The festival is a collaboration among MIT, Harvard, the City of Cambridge, WGBH, and the Museum of Science, Boston. Sponsors include MIT, the National Science Foundation, the City of Cambridge, Pfizer, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Biogen Idec Foundation, Microsoft, MIT’s Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program, Amgen, Elsevier, Genzyme, Harvard University, Vertex, Alnylam, BioMed Realty Trust, Cambridge Community Foundation, Cubist, Draper Labs, Google, IBM, MathWorks, Novartis, Analog Devices and CDM.

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