May 30, 2012 – City tour and “Icarus at the End of Time”

We had time today for an all-day tour of New York today. The last New York city tour we took a long time ago was below standard, so we decided to do it right this time.  The “NY See it All!” tour was scheduled from 10 am to 3:30 and included a boat ride in the harbor. We were not disappointed, although we didn’t actually “see it all”.

Our tour guide was Robert, and he was good.  Their system is that we sees stuff from the

Our guide, Robert

bus, and at several stops we get off with him for a closer look.  One of our first stops was at the Dakota Hotel where Yoko Ono lives, and Strawberry Fields in Central Park.  The Beatle’s song is actually about an orphanage in Liverpool, but when the song became popular, they created a little area in the park with the same name and in it placed an “Imagine” mosaic, commemorating another John Lennon song.  Also in Central Park is Tavern on the Green.  Unfortunately


what was an elegant spot to have bite and a drink has now become a hot dog stand and a souvenir shop.  Very sad.

No Parking sign

They are serious about parking regulations. Also, if a cab driver stops to talk on a cell phone in the wrong place, he will instantly get a ticket.


Flatiron Building

The unusually shaped Flatiron Building. For a while, our guide said, it was the tallest building in the city.

Prometheus at the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink. In the Summer the ice is replaced by restaurant tables.

A stroll in Central Park

One of the few cast iron buildings left in the city
This Ambrose lightship marked the channel off Sandy Hook, New Jersey until 1932, and is now a National Historic Landmark.

These are two of the new buildings at the World Trade Center under construction. The first became taller than the Empire State Building recently. A third planned building will be more than twice as tall as the Empire State Building.

I have many more pictures of our city tour to add, but for now, let’s go to the World Science Festival and the evening’s event, the world premier of Brian Greene’s film “Icarus at the End of Time.”

We are at the W hotel on 17th street and the event was at the United Palace Theater on 175th street near the George Washington Bridge, far to the north.  That meant a long ride on the A subway line, but shortly before our planned departure time, we received a note under the door telling us a limousine would pick us up a 6:00.  We found ourselves riding with Joseph and Mary Day, Tracy’s parents.  Tracy is the wife of Brian Greene and co-founder of the Festival. It was a long ride, and we had time for conversation.  I noted that their names were Joseph and Mary, and so were my dad’s parents, only my dad was born on December 25th!

Also on the ride was Boaz Almog and his associate, who were demonstrating Quantum Levitation which we witnessed yesterday.  I used this opportunity to get a better explanation of the phenomenon. Abbreviated, the discussion went something like this:  He said, “Do you understand regular magnetic attraction?”  “Yes,” I said confidently.  “No, you don’t!” he responded.  He said again, “Do you understand magnetic attraction?”  “No!” I said confidently.  That point being cleared up, he explained in a couple levels of depth, that this particular material, in very thin film form, when made superconductive, instead of repelling magnetic lines of flux, as typical semiconductors do, traps them, or is trapped, and resists any attempt to change the flux.  This causes the material to stay in the position it is placed, which includes being levitated.

We arrived at the theater and it was magnificent.

Entrance hall of the United Palace Theater

Entrance hall of the United Palace Theater

Inside there was gold leaf everywhere. 

The production was based on the story of Icarus who was warned by his father not to fly too close to the Sun.  His wings were made of feathers attached with wax and when he did fly too close, the wings melted and he fell to his death.

This evening’s performance was based on a childrens’ book adapting the myth by Brian Green and includes a full symphony orchestra conducted by Brad Lubman and a stunning video.  As it happened, we found ourselves sittning next to Lubman’s wife.  For the rest of the credits and more information check I wasn’t sure how the video would relate to children who would appreciate a more concrete depiction of what was happening.  For me it was a pleasure to watch.  Spoiler Alert: The story is that when the boy repeatedly dips down in his personal spacecraft near the event horizon of a black hole, time slows down for him.  When he returns to what he thinks is his mother ship, it is gone and he is thousands of years in the future.  They search the archives and find a record of a boy who flew toward a black hole and disappeared.

We finished the event with a ride back with our same group, and had a chance to discuss the performance, and to continue to discuss Quantum Levitation.  It was a wonderful evening.

This entry was posted in Cosmology, Education, Physics, Science, Technology, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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