Free science shows at Pendragon

You are invited to take a wild ride through nature and human history four times every week (7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday) in January and February. Sharpen your curiosity with fun and fascinating stories that are connected directly to you.

Stories like Einstein’s first mistake – he didn’t believe in the big bang. (Edwin Hubble’s telescope would change his mind.)

The sun isn’t burning; there’s nuclear fusion going on in its super-hot core. Every second, 4 million tons of matter are turned into pure energy. Funny thing, though: The core is so dense and crowded that every newborn photon of light created doesn’t know “which way is up” and spends an average of a million years trapped and bouncing around inside the sun. (Think about it: Your body is actually powered by sunlight, how else does food grow?)

You started out as a single, magnificent, microscopic cell; my, look how you’ve grown!

Oh there’s more, a lot more. Seven topics, eight weeks, 35 FREE shows – each week brings new exploration and discoveries into how you got here. Want to know where you come from? The carbon in your cells, the iron in your blood, the calcium in your teeth and bones – why, they came from stars much larger than our own sun, stars that exploded in a violent fury that would, for a brief time, actually outshine the entire Milky Way galaxy. These explosions are your distant ancestors.

Is Earth the only place where life has staked a foothold? Well, Mars once had water, warmth and a thicker atmosphere. Any life developing there would be doomed, though. (Mars lost its magnetic shield for a very good reason, and its water, warmth and atmosphere would be blasted by the sun).

Would you be surprised to hear of a moon of Jupiter, Europa, that has a 2-mile-thick coating of ice on the outside, protecting a dark and salty ocean 60 miles deep? (Earthly oceans only average 2 miles in depth.) On the Earth we’ve got microbes and animals living near hot, underwater volcanic vents. The famous “Black Smokers” thrust dark, hot chemicals up from the sea floor. Animals there live not on sunlight but on volcanic chemical energy. Europa could easily have its own Black Smokers. Mixing planetary chemicals with hot, salty water may be a key life-building process; does Europa have alien life swimming around in its murky, ink-black waters? Curious Earthlings want to send a robot probe that will melt its way through 2 miles of ice and then swim around and “taste” these alien waters for evidence of life.

You’ve probably heard of quantum mechanics. Einstein hated it, but the proof is here that the world we live in is very strange indeed: particles that appear and disappear; objects, real visible objects, that can be in two different places at the same time; experiments where tiny moving particles change their behavior depending on whether your eyes are open or not … Scientists are building a quantum computer. Some scientists think that your brain is actually a biological quantum computer; that may explain some spooky human experiences.

Gravity acts like a force, but it’s not really a force. (If you were in a special room found at the center of the Earth, you would not be crushed; you would actually float, weightless.)

Time travel is real and proven. Speed affects the flow of time, and so does gravity. The clocks found on orbiting GPS satellites are NOT running at the same speed as a clock in your car.

If you are, indeed, curious, then you are in luck. Nature is weird, but you are a part of nature. The atoms in your body are almost entirely empty space, more than 99 percent; plus, there is no real surface to the atom, just energy and probability.

Hello, I am David Gardner, president and founder of the educational nonprofit Project ASAP (American Science Ambassador Program). I am also your presenter for all 35 free shows; let me entertain and amaze you. I have a lot of experience and started Project ASAP to improve American science education. A Clarkson grad and Army officer, my passion for science, nature and humanity would lead me to become New York state certified and teach in both public and private schools in and around New York City: physics, astronomy, meteorology, earth science, environmental science, geology. And yes, some of my private students included children of celebrities like Stephen Spielberg, Bette Midler, Richard Dreyfuss and others, but I left NYC behind to move to the Adirondack Mountains to write my first book, “Whispers from the Stone Age” (a wild ride through nature and human history). While writing my second book, “Jaw Dropping Secrets Exposed” (human curiosity vs. the strangeness of nature), I joined the staff at the Adirondack Public Observatory and helped to design their first after-school astronomy course for elementary students.

Now I’ve opted to take my passion for science to a larger stage, both literally and figuratively. David Zwierankin, managing director of the Pendragon Theatre, sees the partnership between Pendragon and ASAP as a benefit for the Adirondack community and is graciously making suggestions, fostering connections and pledging future support for upcoming presentations. Project ASAP wants to enlist Hollywood superstar and science advocate Alan Alda as a celebrity spokesperson; will Mr. Alda someday grace the stage at Pendragon? We certainly hope so and are working to make it a reality.

Albert Einstein once said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead – his eyes are closed.”

Come on, I dare you to pause and wonder, unleash your curiosity. You pick the day: Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday. See you at 7 p.m. at Pendragon. Einstein also said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

David Gardner lives in Tupper Lake and can be reached by email at