Blast Off!

CHAUTAUQUA – Chautauqua Institution opens its 2013 season with a new approach to engagement on the grounds as Week One takes a large and inclusive topic – the universe – and delivers a week full of entertainment for the whole family. The nine-week morning lecture series begins Monday with an exploration into the wonders of the cosmos, an understanding of space and time and the most basic questions of existence. Morning lectures will discuss “Our Elegant Universe,” while the afternoon Interfaith lectures will explore the spiritual story titled “Journey of the Universe.” Space-related events will also take place throughout the course of the week that the whole family can be a part of.


Columbia University theoretical physicist Brian Greene, author of “The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes” and the “Deep Laws of the Cosmos,” kicks off the week and season with an introduction to superstring theory and how it shapes our understanding of the universe.

On Tuesday, NASA AMES astrophysicist Natalie Batalha will share findings from the Kepler Mission, where she is mission scientist, and its importance to NASA, the scientific community and humankind.

Jim Holt, a longtime contributor to The New Yorker, where he has written on string theory, time, infinity, numbers, humor, logic and truth, among other topics, will speak on Wednesday. Holt’s bestselling 2012 book “Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story” was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for general nonfiction and was named one of the 10 best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review.

Chautauqua favorite Kobie Boykins, an engineer with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, returns to speak on Thursday about the immediate and distant future of unmanned space exploration.

Friday’s lecture features Jennifer Wiseman, director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion and NASA’s senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope. Wiseman will share the wonder and awe in space, the spiritual and existential questions it inspires and the relationship between science and faith.



Week One of the 2013 season features a roster of scholars, led by Yale University professor and historian of religions Mary Evelyn Tucker. Tucker will explore the themes of her Emmy-winning documentary “Journey of the Universe.” The film, which is based on her book with evolutionary philosopher Brian Thomas Swimme, draws together scientific discoveries in astronomy, geology and biology, with humanistic insights concerning the nature of the universe.

On Tuesday, John Grim, who is also a lecturer and research scholar at Yale University, will speak about Native American responses to Journey of the Universe.

The lectures will continue on Wednesday with Abrahamic responses from three religious scholars, Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Heather Eaton and Safei Eldin Hamed who will discuss Judaism, Christianity and Islam, respectively. Thursday afternoon will follow with responses from South Asian religions in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism from David Haberman, Christopher Chapple and Christopher Ives.

The “Journey of the Universe” Week One Interfaith Lectures will conclude on Friday with East Asian responses on Daoism with James Miller, Confucianism with Mary Evelyn Tucker and Environmental Ethics with Lisa Sideris.

Morning lectures are held in the Amphitheater weekdays at 10:45 a.m. Interfaith Lectures are held in the Hall of Philosophy weekdays at 2 p.m. Afternoon lecture themes often complement the themes of the 10:45 a.m. lectures but capture a different angle of vision.

Day tickets are available for purchase at the Main Gate Welcome Center Ticket Office on the day of your visit. Morning tickets grant visitors access to the grounds from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $20.

Afternoon tickets grant access from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. for $13.

Combined morning/afternoon passes (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.) are $33. For additional ticketing information, visit or call 357-6250.


With the support of local partnerships and generous grants from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and Holmberg Foundation, Week One of the 2013 Chautauqua season will also offer interactive events that allow families to explore space together.

Sunday-Tuesday: Explore one of NASA’s premier traveling exhibitions-Journey to Tomorrow-an informal learning environment that brings the excitement of exploration in air and space to Chautauqua in eight interactive kiosks. Visitors are welcome to enjoy free admission to the grounds on Sunday. Also available will be the popular “Picture Yourself in Space” photo booth, where everyone can receive a free souvenir photo taken as an astronaut.

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. SundayTuesday

Where: Miller Park

Monday: Learn about size, distance and characteristics of the planets at the Magical Space Journey Youth Camp. A maximum of 50 people, ages 8 and older, are welcome to attend. Call 357-6402 for more information.

When: 4:30-6 p.m.

Where: The field between the Boys’ and Girls’ Club and the Sailing Center

Tuesday (Community Appreciation Night): Build different types of rockets and explore how and why rockets work and how they can navigate through space. A maximum of 50 people, ages 8 and older, are welcome to attend. Call 357-6402 for more information.

When: 4:30-6 p.m.

Where: The field between Boys’ and Girls’ Club and the Sailing Center (rain location is Seaver Gym)

Later on Tuesday: Enjoy Star Gazing by exploring the night sky with telescopes from Martz Observatory of Frewsburg.

When: 9 p.m.

Where: Lounge at Pier Building (Rain or shine)

Wednesday (Family Entertainment Series):

After astronaut Story Musgrave entertains you about space in the Amphitheater, cuddle up with your family and watch Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” in Bestor Plaza. The Brick Walk Cafe will provide snacks and refreshments. The rain location is the Hall of Christ.

When: 9 p.m.

Where: Bestor Plaza