After spending a whole day listening to a lectures at school or meetings at work, the last thing you probably want to do is attend a science lecture during your precious free time. Well think again. Science lectures in the evenings at cafes and bars is a huge phenomenon that is becoming the biggest thing since the invention of 80's night. Who would have thought that school after school would be as much fun as whitewashing a fence (which is what I do in my free time)? A friend of Nikola Tesla once wrote: "Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of of whatever a body is not obliged to do."
The phenomenon is called Cafe Scientifique or Science Cafe depending on how sophisticated you want to sound. One could argue that its origins trace back to the Vienna Circle or possibly even earlier with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle arguing at Starbucks which was the most fundamental form: rock, paper, or scissors.
Today a science cafe is a monthly event hosted by a local cafe or bar that features two or three lectures on science. According to the ScienceCafes.org
"A science café's casual meeting place, plain language, and inclusive conversation create a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for people with no science background.
Each meeting is organized around an interesting topic of conversation. A scientist gives a brief presentation and sometimes shows a short video clip to kick off the discussion. You can leave a café meeting when you want, but you'll miss out if you show up late."
Science Cafes are taking over the country and growing more popular each month. They have been covered in the media, from the NY Times to the Tucson Citizen. For instance, an event called Nerdnite started in small bar in New York City and shortly after reaching the pinnacle of nerdyness by featuring a lecture on the different sizes of infinity, it was forced to move to a larger space. Nerdnite now sells t-shirts and charges admission. They even run a nerd speed dating event before the lectures to help the socially challenged break the ice. It is commonly remarked that an extroverted physicist will occasionally look at someone else's shoes rather than their own. Nerdnite has since toured across the country. I should mention that it technically got its start in Boston (kind of like Babe Ruth). So look for Nerdnite coming to a town near you.
Similar to Nerdnite is an event called Dorkbot. This science cafe usually involves artists or engineers showing off their lastest inventions. Typically these inventions involve electricity and ingenuity. In fact the Dorkbot slogan is "people doing strange things with electricity". There are literally Dorkbots all over the the world. They are taking over!!! Even if you live on a remote island, the Dorbot will find you... it is now self aware.
Now what if you happen to live somewhere far from civilazation where the Dorkbot or Nerdnite will never find you? Some where like Tucson, AZ for instance. Then start your own science cafe! Go to your local cafe owner and say: "Hello local cafe owner. My name is ----- and I happen to notice everyone cringing and pulling out their ipods during the last open mic night. How about I start a science cafe night?" It's that easy. The sciencecafes.org website even has section on starting your own. So go on and start your own!