It’s late April, you’ve already written your check to the IRS, and the Phillies are dragging in last place in the NL East. But don’t fret. The Philadelphia Science Festival is back for its second annual action-packed 10-day celebration of science in the city where Ben Franklin got it all started more than 200 years ago. Who knows, maybe the festival can help cure what ails the Phils at next Saturday’s Science Night at the Ballpark when the home team takes on the Chicago Cubs.
The festival, which kicks off with a science carnival on the Ben Franklin Parkway today, runs through April 29th at locations around the city. The events are as thought-provoking as they are diverse. Several touch on public health, and you could take part in a Science Scavenger Hunt, watch a debate about the environmental impact of fracking, or bring your kids to any number of area libraries for free science events and have barely scratched the surface of the 110 events that make up the festival.
We here at The Public’s Health are proud to be part of the festival for the second year running. Last year, one of us – OK, it was me – became the region’s latest Dr. Benjamin Rush impersonator in a program that brought together comedians and historians to explore why what today is considered scientific nonsense was yesterday’s scientific fact (see video below).
This year, we’ll be participating in two events:
- On Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Triumph Brewery, 117 Chestnut St. in Old City, Jonathan and I will be hosting Blogging and Beer: A Discussion with The Public's Health. We will be joined by our fearless editor, Inquirer public health reporter Don Sapatkin, to discuss the blog and the ongoing public health challenges in Philadelphia. Special guests to include Philadelphia Health Commissioner Don Schwarz, Drexel School of Public Health Dean Marla Gold, and Penn History and Sociology of Science Professor David Barnes. The discussion is free (you do pay for the beer), and we hope you can join us in dialog.
- On Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Chemical Heritage Society, 315 Chestnut St., historians and comedians will once again be dramatizing events in the public health and medical past. As you may surmise from the title, Life, Sex, Death (and Food): A Historical Look at the Science That Drives Us, this will be a hilarious night. I mean, where else can you find historians and comedians performing together, let alone about science and medicine? Watch as comedians from the Philadelphia Improv Theater and historians from Drexel, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Drexel (I’m a public health historian in my day job) and the Philadelphia Area Center for the History of Science once again try to break down the age-old historian/comedy gap that has kept the former wearing sports coats with elbow patches for far too long. Tickets are $10 for admission, or $15 with drinks included.