We were were surprised and pleased to receive an invitation to the Kavli Prize announcement ceremony Thursday morning. Every two years, million-dollar prizes are awarded by the Kavli Foundation in the categories of the very 1) small 2) large and 3) complex. These days that means the awards are given in the fields of 1) nanotechnology 2) astrophysics and 3) neuroscience.
We heard opening remarks from Brian Green and John Holdren, representing the White House, and then went to a live video session from Norway for the announcements. To the great delight of the audience, a winner in the neuroscience category, Cornelia Isabella Bargmann, was in the audience and was also delighted. She has studied the nervous system of a primitive worm, and because it is simple and the body is transparent, she is able to study just how its nervous system works.
Teresa and I then headed for some sunshine in Washington Square Park, and to take care of some errands. Washington Square is a delightful place. Everyone there is doing their thing and the atmosphere is relaxed and engaging.
The evening program we had signed up for was “Reefs as Never Before Seen: A World Premier”, which was held at the American Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium. There were cocktails and a pre-show discussion which dealt with the phenomena of bioluminescence and flourescence. The difference, of course, is that the energy for the former comes from the organism, while the latter depends on receiving external radiation. The reproductive advantage of phosphorescence is not entirely clear in some cases. The subject of the destruction of reefs came up also.
We then headed to the dome of the Planetarium for the premier of an underwater, 360 degree film of life near a reef made by Lynette Wallworth. It was a work of art and amazing. I wasn’t quite sure what I was seeing at the time, but I learned later from Lynette that the little luminous creatures swirling about were plankton, and that the little spheres popping out of recesses were egg and sperm cases. Her title of the film was “Coral: ReKindling Venus” and had something to do with the Transit of Venus (where the planet traverses the sun’s face) on June 5, but I did not fully understand here explanation. Nevertheless, the film and music were beautiful.
It was a lovely evening.