New York Thought: Smart Things to Do in NYC This Week

Appearances by Dame Judi Dench, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Whoopi Goldberg, and Mark Lilla. Talks on human curiosity, the nature of waiting, and black holes. And that’s just Monday! It’s another amazing week in New York City, read on for our picks for the best smart things to do.

Monday, September 18

IMAGE CREDIT: Robert Wilson/Contour by Getty Images

There is nothing like a Dame, and you can see one of the most renowned ones in person as Dame Judi Dench appears to discuss her upcoming role as Queen Victoria in Victoria and Abdul. BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center.

The StarTalk Radio road show is back with StarTalk Live!, bringing together Neil deGrasse Tyson, comedian Eugene Mirman, special guests Whoopi Goldberg and Michael Ian Black, and the mysteries of the cosmos. Kings Theatre.

Hear the adventures of science writer Erica Cirino, who sailed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” to document what millions of tons of discarded plastic is doing to our waters. The Explorers Club.

Astrophysicist Dr. Mario Livio speaks at the American Museum of Natural History on the latest research “about the origins and mechanisms of human curiosity.”

Albert Einstein knew that black holes supplied a mathematical solution to his equations, but he wasn’t sold on their actual physical existence. It took over a century (until last year) for the first tangible proof to arrive: the detection of gravitational waves. Learn more from two physicists at the next convening of the Secret Science Club at The Bell House.

More than three-fourths of Americans own smartphones. It seems most of them/us have ceded our downtime along with them. Whither waiting? Author Andrea Köhler discusses her new book, Passing Time: An Essay on Waiting, which looks at the marking of time across life spans. Columbia professor Mark Lilla (The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction) joins her at Deutsches Haus at NYU.

Tuesday, September 19

Yale professor Anthony T. Kronman’s most recent book surveys centuries of Western philosophy and theology, ranging through Plato, Aquinas, Nietzsche, and Freud. Along the way he examines ancient conceptions of God; he’ll speak at the 92nd Street Y on his effort to reclaim that divinity for modern times.

Cetaceans can communicate 20 times the auditory information of humans. Do they have something to teach us about our own consciousness? Two animal behavior experts come to Caveat to reveal some surprises within non-human intelligence.

Wednesday, September 20

NYC’s floating food forest © Swale and Strongbow

Join the Atlas Obscura Society and climb aboard the  floating food forest Swale for an evening of herbal elixirs and the magical history of their ingredients.

La Stampa columnist Alain Elkann discusses his new book, a compendium of his famous interviews, with Diane von Furstenberg and Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait. A book signing follows. Italian Cultural Institute.

Thursday, September 21

Author Naben Ruthnum uses family recipes and literary samples to delve into curry, the topic of the book he’ll launch at  There will be a Q&A as Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race contributes to the growing number of voices adding depth to our understanding of the Indian diaspora. Bluestockings.

If you’re in the mood for more Indian experience, you have 24 hours to catch the Rubin Museum of Art‘s annual Ragas Live Festival. Sacred sounds will fill the museum as it makes good on New York’s promise to be a city that never sleeps.

Discover a new tune at this discussion with journalist Hugh Wyatt on his new book Phoebe’s Fantasy: The Story of a Mafia Insider Who Helped Rescue Jazz and how foreign countries played a role in preserving the uniquely American art form and its black performers. Queens Library–Central Library.

Find our picks for the weekend here.

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