Penn profs star in Science Festival’s ‘Superheroes’

Faster than the speed of light. Stronger than a sheet of graphene. It’s the Philadelphia Science Festival, back for a second year.

The 2012 festival promises 10 days of informative lectures and interactive events for science buffs of all ages. The Science Carnival on Ben Franklin Parkway and Astronomy Night are back for sequels, along with new programming that includes a Science Film Festival.  

New to the marquee this year is “Science Superheroes,” a chance to listen to some of the area’s top scientists discuss how they are trying to save lives and improve the world. The event is being held at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, 315 Chestnut St., on Wednesday, April 25, at 7 p.m. 

Speakers include two Penn faculty members: Mark Yim, a professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Modular Robotics Laboratory (or ModLab), and Douglas Smith, director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair in the Perelman School of Medicine.

Yim will show off the snake-like robots he developed with his colleagues. Able to contort themselves into shapes that more rigid robots could never manage, these machines have the potential to assist with search-and-rescue missions.

Smith’s research focuses on axons, the long tendrils that extend from nerve cells and allow them to communicate with each other. He will describe his efforts in developing drugs to protect these structures and stave off the devastating effects of brain injuries.

“Science Superheroes” tickets are on sale now. General admission tickets are available for $5 with the discount code “penn.”

The Science Festival runs from April 20-29. The Science Carnival on the Ben Franklin Parkway will be held on Saturday, April 21, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Astronomy Night is scheduled for Friday, April 27, at 8 p.m. at more than 20 venues in and around Philadelphia, including College Green.

The Science Film Festival runs from April 21-24 and 27-29.

Clark Park Science Discovery Day is Saturday, April 29, at 11 a.m. The event will allow visitors to meet local scientists and science students and uncover the wonders around University City’s popular Clark Park.

For a full schedule of events, visit the Philadelphia Science Festival website. Most activities are free, but because of limited space some require registration.

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