265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139 csf@cambridgesciencefestival.org

Personalized Medicine: Our Human Genome

Our genome is the “code of our bodies.” Every cell in our system contains a complete set of DNA that contains “recipes” which influence every aspect of an individual. These genes work together to create each piece of who we are, this includes everything from eye color, hair color and hand size to which diseases a person will get or is susceptible to. The first gene sequences were completed in the late 70’s and since then genome sequencing has been revolutionized. Recently, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have been able to curate a person’s entire genome sequence for personalized treatment. This personalization of medicine gathers ones genetic information and family’s genetic history to better diagnose and treat diseases. Personalized medicine can help diagnose many different types of cancers, some forms of Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS and many other diseases. This range to cure seems to be limitless. Over the past… Read More

One More Cup of Coffee

by Katie Oleksak Coffee, one of life’s finest staples. It controls me, annoys me, and causes me to be late to obligations and short of cash but I love it. Living in Dunkin’ Donuts nation and socially acceptable coffee shop culture, I wonder whether the 6 o’clock news stories of coffee’s antioxidant and anti-aging affects are simply appeasing us so that we do not feel bad about our bean-wielding lives? Possibly. But in any case, on Sunday I received much more than I bargained for in “One More Cup of Coffee,” a two-hour interactive session at the Cambridge Science Festival, rich with science, samples and coffee freaks like myself. I arrived at the MIT Museum just in time to hear Harvard researcher Daniel Chasman describe some exciting science behind the physiology of coffee on the brain. A crowd of all ages had gathered and was plenty attentive although it was… Read More

Dissecting the dead and alive—virtually!—at MGH

  by Judith Lavelle At the Paul S. Russell Museum of Medical History and Innovation, you can see demonstrations of a state-of-the-art virtual dissection table at 11AM and 4PM every weekday during the Cambridge Science Festival. A high-tech alternative to traditional cadaver dissections, the Anatomageis finding its way into medical schools as a teaching device. But its capabilities don’t end there. At Massachusetts General Hospital, doctors use the technology to view three-dimensional images of their patients’ bodies—whether these patients have been recently admitted to MGH or showed up a century earlier. I learned about the latter case from Russell Museum docent Jodie Grossman, who led a group of festival-attendees on a tour through the Ether Dome—the national historical landmark where the first public anesthetized surgery took place in 1846. There, she introduced us to MGH’s spokesmummy, Padihershef. We don’t know much about Padihershef’s life and afterlife before he was gifted… Read More

Sound practice for songwriting

by Eric Bender We might picture songwriters at work sitting at a piano or holding a guitar, but more and more artists who work with musical technology are inspired by sounds, says Michael Bierlyo, Chair of Electronic Production and Design at Berklee College of Music. “You can think of someone like Björk, who is fascinated by sounds and uses that as a gateway to create songs,” he says. You also might think of Nona Hendryx, an internationally famous singer whose career began with the Bluebelles, who had a hit with “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman” in 1962. Hendryx’s extraordinary career as songwriter and performer is still going strong, and she is still experimenting with the latest music technologies. “Nona is totally hooked up with technology, with writing music with computers,” says Bierylo. “She is the technology diva.” Hendryx coaches and collaborates with Berklee students, and she will join… Read More

Welcome to the Robot Zoo!

by Eric  Bender Harvard Microrobotics Lab’s Robobees, MIT Personal Robot Group’s Dragonbot and Olin Robotic Team’s Damn Yankee The Science Carnival that kicks off at noon on Saturday April 18 at Cambridge High School’s field house is sort of like the Big Apple Circus of Science, except that it’s way bigger and free. Okay, there are no trained horses and probably no clowns, but you can walk inside an inflatable gray whale and a 300,000-times-scale model of a human white blood cell at the Carnival. You can also check out demonstrations of everything from deriving your own DNA to 3D-printing your own trinket and from superconducting magnetic levitation to walking a glider. But be sure to save time for the Robot Zoo, which will draw a diverse population of robots and their builders. You can elbow your way through the crowds in the Zoo to find the pioneering firm iRobot… Read More

Einstein’s Theory of General Relevancy

by Eric Bender   Your cell phone knows about the theory of general relativity that Albert Einstein proposed a century ago. Its built-in GPS navigation system wouldn’t work without the realization that the clocks in the GPS satellites 13,000 miles above us run slightly faster than clocks on the surface of the earth, due to gravitational effects that general relativity predicts. That’s just one example of why Einstein’s astonishing relativity theories remain crucial today, both embedded in objects in our daily lives and acting as a platform for our rapidly evolving understanding of the universe. And both aspects will be in view in the Celebrating Einstein series, which officially launches one month from today. “The 100-year anniversary is a great occasion in itself, but we wanted to find the best ways to demonstrate not just that Einstein was a genius but what makes him relevant to the world today,” says… Read More

PiEinstein Day

Einstein in 1904 / Lucien Chavan   Good morning, and a glorious Super Pi Day to you! In case you’re unaware, today is the occasion when the month and day coincide with the first three digits of π – 3.14. Today is even more spectacular in that the year, hour, minute, and second also extend to further match the irrational sequence of numbers at precisely 9:26:53 am, giving 3.141592653. So, why is Albert Einstein’s visage pictured above? Galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 / NASA/ESA Believe it or not, today is also Einstein’s birthday! Born in 1879, he would have been blowing out 136 candles on this particular orbit around the sun. Furthermore, his theory of general relativity also celebrates its centenary this year. Published in 1915, this work takes the force of gravity and explains how it is a fundamental property of both space and time itself. While Einstein’s theory was not… Read More

Cambridge Science Festival 2015!

You may have noticed our programs for the Cambridge Science Festival schedule are online here.  The festival team is excited for the 160+ programs scheduled for April (and very excited for warmth in general). Take a look at the list below for all the festival programs that require pre-registration or tickets. Don’t miss the School Vacation Programs category as well! Programs that require pre-registration or tickets Speaking of Einstein $10, https://speakingofeinstein.eventbrite.com On the Wing: A Celebration of Birds in Music and Spoken Word   Free, RSVP to lectures@hmsc.harvard.edu You’re the Expert  Tickets available at eugenemirmancomedyfestival.com StarTalk Live! with Bill Nye the Science Guy  Tickets available at eugenemirmancomedyfestival.com The Shience of Sherry $39 (gets you a lot of sherry). Space will be limited, so if you’d like to book a spot, please call us at 617 374 0700, or email eat@studyrestaurant.com Volpe Talks: Transportation Ideas Worth Sharing Free, volpetalks.eventbrite.com Exploring Network Science… Read More

Curiosity Challenge 2014

We have had another wonderful year for Curiosity Challenge questions and winners! Curiosity Challenge Book 2014 – Cambridge Science Festival from CSciFest   Curiosity Challenge Book 2014 – Cambridge Science Festival Some of these wonderful questions were answered by a group from eMIT, a blog written by MIT graduate students to explore how science and technology affect our daily lives.   Why Do Some People Have Allergies? (Aine Büchau, Age 12) Our bodies have immune systems that search for harmful germs and destroy them. We need our immune systems to protect us. As people grow up, their immune systems get to know what is friendly (like food) and what isn’t (like the flu virus). What would happen if your body decided that your food was an enemy? That is precisely what happens in people who have allergies: the immune system tries to fight off normally harmless things like pollen, cat… Read More

Flash Mobbing Cancer Treatment

    Here’s the basic idea behind adoptive T cell therapy: Patients whose cancers don’t respond to conventional treatments can have some of their own immune cells known as T cells plucked, genetically re-engineered to better target their cancer cells, and reinserted. In recent years these treatments have achieved dramatic early clinical successes, and there’s a lot of excitement about them. This excitement made adoptive T cell therapy a prime candidate for the third annual Biology Flash Mob at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, which drew about 180 volunteers on Friday morning.  We volunteers were a diverse group—by a show of hands, one third of us worked at Koch and one third had never heard of the institute—and several of us were only two years old. Our Koch hosts divided us into groups of healthy cells (green shirts), cancer cells (red shirts), T cells (blue shirts)… Read More