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10-Jul-2015 18:03

Who knew Superhero Clubhouse and CCAFS could be a match made in heaven?

Later in the night, installation artist Jackie Brookner took a seat across from me.

It turned out Jeremy was no stranger to the Lamont campus, having performed an interactive play about climate change and tree rings at October’s Open House.

“Both disciplines are essentially researching something in this world that strikes them—a phenomena, a challenge, a condition—and then formulating a response,” she said.

“The essence of inquiry at its heart is incredibly similar.” And though their outputs might look different, even they share some similarities.

When the first of my 14 dates sat down across from me, my stomach turned a bit. Lisa Phillips, co-director of Positive Feedback, sees connections in the processes artists and scientists go through as well.

After all, we came from such different backgrounds! On Thursday night, Positive Feedback, an initiative of the Earth Institute, the Center for Creative Research at NYU, and the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities, brought together artists and climate scientists (or climate science writer in my case) for a round of speed dating. To help practitioners of the two disciplines find common ground and develop new (professional) relationships. From Galileo’s drawings of the heavens to Darwin’s sketches of finches to the recent rise of infographics, art has long helped convey complex scientific theories and data.

Whether taking a stream of numbers and making a forecast or a thought or emotion and making a painting, both scientists and artists can take something abstract and make it more visceral (of course the inverse can also be true).

So the challenge isn’t necessarily finding common ground, it’s getting the two sides to sit down and talk.