Steven Hawking is one highlight at inaugural Seattle Science Festival

May 23, 2012

Marking the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the Emerald City will host its first-ever Seattle Science Festival next month.

The festival has landed a major celebrity as one of it’s so-called “Luminaries.”  Steven Hawking, the British physicist known for writing about the history of the universe, will speak on June 16th, at the Paramount Theater. 

Hawking’s ability to communicate with a mass audience – despite using an electronic voice box and being mostly paralyzed – fits the theme of the science festival. Organizer Ellen Lettvin, of the Pacific Science Center, says the month-long event highlights speakers who can get the public excited about science and technology.

“We wanted to bring people who were able to be the highest level spokespeople in their respective disciplines, people who are not just doing exciting work, but are outstanding communicators who could really inspire the audience,” says Lettvin. “That was what we were really seeking.”

None of the others are quite as famous, but Hawking will share the stage with one of the world’s leading dinosaur researchers, and Seattle genomics celeb Leroy Hood, on a night devoted loosely to the concept of evolution. Other "luminaries" events, for example, focus on computer gaming and on reinventing the toilet. 

The science festival kicks off with a free all-day fair, on the grounds of Seattle Center on June 2nd.  The science festival is modeled on similar community events in New York, Boston, San Diego and San Francisco – where scientists are encouraged to make their work accessible. They’ll even share the stage with musical and dance performers.

Science Festival Week, June 3-10, will offer Seattle’s community a variety of signature programs and events. Check out the full calendar of events for the month of June.