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The big questions that drive scientific inquiry are the same questions we all wrestle with: What is the ultimate nature of reality? What does it mean to be human? Why are we here and where did we come from? Because these questions are universal, science will find an eager audience among the general public if it is presented clearly, compellingly, and without jargon. That is the mission of the Big Ideas series – the signature live events of the annual World Science Festival, now in its twelfth year.

Big Ideas programs bring together leading thinkers from diverse fields who explore these big questions together in lively, spontaneous discussion. Our goal is that both participants and audience are invigorated and inspired. World Science Festival producers work with the scientists to make complicated ideas accessible – using graphics, demonstration, and video, as well as additional live elements that draw upon the talents of actors, musicians and filmmakers, as befits the program.

WSF will produce and stage at least 51 original, live Big Ideas programs over the next three years, including the annual On the Shoulders of Giants keynote address. All programs will be filmed, edited and released to our global online audience through the WSF website and YouTube channel.

We seek unexplored terrain, and draw from every field where humans are expanding the frontiers of knowledge – including physics, mathematics, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, sociology, genetics, and philosophy. Building on 11 years of success, our goals for the quality and reach of Festival programs will be even more ambitious for 2019 – 2021. We believe a public that is excited rather than alienated by science will be more engaged in contemplation of deep questions and more open to insightful conversations, goals shared by WSF and JTF.