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First-Ever 'Science Fest' for Adults to Ignite Thursday

"Cancer hunting magnetic nanoparticles."
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Nathaniel Klein

DOWNTOWN — The field of science turns 2,600 years old Thursday, and everyone is invited to the party. 

To celebrate, the Illinois Science Council will present its first-ever Chicago Science Fest, a three-day Downtown event with talks and other programs for adults who love science. Thursday marks the anniversary of the day in 585 B.C. Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus correctly predicted a solar eclipse. The prediction led to Thales being called the "Father of Science."

Science "doesn't have to be something you studied in school," said Monica Metzler, the council's executive director. "I firmly believe that everyone has some area of science that they think is cool or interesting."

The festival kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday with a panel between local neurobiologist Catherine Woolley, TechNexus CEO Terry Howerton, and Rep. Bill Foster (D-11th), a physicist and the only sitting scientist in Congress. The discussion will be held at Chase Auditorium, 10 S. Dearborn St. 

On Friday the festival will focus on science in art and film, with screenings of "The Believers" and "This Has Been to Space" beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, 175 W. Washington St.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, the festival will move to the Merchandise Mart, where visitors can peek under the hood of a Tesla Model S and learn about the science behind GMO foods, among other things. 

Proceeds from the festival will benefit the science council, a non-profit organization. Metzler said the festival was inspired by the lack of science outreach for adults, even in a city that boasts four research universities, seven science museums, and two national laboratories. 

"Just like people appreciate music and theater and dance, there are a lot of folks out there curious about science subjects," Metzler said. "We should be known as a city of science in this country."

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door for each event, or $30 in advance or $35 for an all-day pass Saturday. Tickets and the full schedule of events can be found on the council's website

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