Theater & art

family entertainment

Cambridge Science Festival, by the numbers

Among the exhibits at the Cambridge Science Festival are (clockwise from top left): The Physics of Billiards; Visual-Eyes Art, a multimedia exhibit that explores animal vision and perception; and Sidewalk Astronomy, on the moons of Saturn.
Cambridge Science Festival
Among the exhibits at the Cambridge Science Festival are : The Physics of Billiards; Visual-Eyes Art (pictured), a multimedia exhibit that explores animal vision and perception; and Sidewalk Astronomy, on the moons of Saturn.

Scientists love numbers. Sometimes those digits are inconceivable for those of us who have enough trouble figuring out the tip on a dinner check. But an expert who’s passionate and patient can make it seem as simple as 1-2-3. Or at least 3.1415. . . . (Piece of pi, right?)

The seventh Cambridge Science Festival runs Friday through April 21, bringing knowledge to more than 50 sites in Cambridge, Boston, and surrounding towns, with 141 events and activities involving 130 local science organizations. How’s that for numbers?

Here are a few more:


3,000 Seconds it will take to hear 10 mind-expanding concepts in science, technology, engineering, and math boiled down to five-minute talks (with another five minutes allotted for audience questions) during Big Ideas for Busy People. Friday, 7:30 p.m., First Parish Church, 1446 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; $10 tickets at

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3 Steps in a conga (plus a tap to the side). See for yourself when the MIT Lincoln Laboratory presents a conga line of robots, one of more than three dozen activities and presentations in the Science Carnival’s Robot Zoo. Please don’t feed the dancers. Saturday, noon-4 p.m., Cambridge Public Library, 499 Broadway, Cambridge; free.

750 Combined number of blinks per minute, on average, by the 50 artists who, as part of their study of visual ecology, created Visual-Eyes Art. The multimedia exhibit explores animal vision and perception and allows guests (wearing provided eyewear) to view the artwork through the eyes of various animals. April 14, 1-4 p.m., Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Student Life Gallery, Kennedy Building, 621 Huntington Ave., second floor, Boston; free.

0 Tolls you’ll pay during a walking exploration of the Zakim Bridge and four Fort Point Channel crossings of different designs, guided by members of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers. The Boston-Cambridge Bridge Tour is free, so put your money toward comfortable footwear. April 15, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., meets at the Barking Crab Restaurant, 88 Sleeper St., Boston.

3.5 Calories burned by a good, hearty laugh. So go have an ice cream, then head over to a taping of the podcast “You’re the Expert,” in which a panel of comedians tries to discern a scientist’s (often obscure) field of study. April 16, 7-8:30 p.m., MIT Museum, 265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; free.


44,000 Monuments at Mount Auburn Cemetery, chiseled from hundreds of types of stone. You can see and hear about many of them during the free guided tour Rocks & Minerals at Mount Auburn. April 17, 1:30-3 p.m., 580 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge; suitable for ages 6 and up.

10 Milliseconds during which cue is in contact with ball, setting off a demonstration of Newton’s Laws that you hope ends in the corner pocket. The Physics of Billiards is one of 12 stops at restaurants and bars around Kendall Square during the Science Crawl. April 18, 5-9 p.m., free; 21+ at bars.

NASA via ap/file
Sidewalk Astronomy, on the moons of Saturn.

17 Century in which the slide rule was invented. Although rendered obsolete in the 1970s by the pocket calculator, this low-tech computing device is back for some hands-on exploration in Everything You Wanted to Know About Slide Rules. What next, pocket protector nostalgia? April 19, 10:30-11:30 a.m. and 12:30-1:30 p.m., MIT Museum, 265 Massachusetts Ave.; ages 12+, $10 with preregistration required.

40 Percentage of moons in the solar system that revolve around Saturn. See how many you can spot when Boston University astronomers set up telescopes on Marsh Plaza (opposite the BU Central stop on the Green Line) and inside Coit Observatory for Sidewalk Astronomy. It’s one of four free events to celebrate National Astronomy Day. April 20, 8-10 p.m., 725 Commonwealth Ave., Boston.

168 Hours that eight competing teams of designers will have had to conceive of and build their autonomous combat robots for the festival-closing Battlebots Competition. Revenge of Frankenstein? April 21, 4:30-8:30 p.m., Center for the Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville; free.

Jeff Wagenheim can be reached at