10 events that will make you smarter this month

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. –Flickr / Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

If you’re hoping to boost your intellect or expand your world view, look no further than Boston. The Greater Boston area is home to more than 40 colleges and universities – including prestigious institutions like Harvard and MIT – and boasts some of the nation’s best and brightest doctors, writers, and scientists.

Knowledge is all around us–and we should take advantage of it. However, it can be daunting to scroll through a seemingly endless list events to find the city’s best intellectual offerings. The goal of this list is to provide a more manageable calendar of lectures, workshops, and other programs designed to make you smarter.


Here are 10 events in February that will satiate the curious mind.

The Age of Reason Got It Wrong

Our unconscious minds play a significant role in how we behave and make decisions. Timothy Phillips, co-founder of Beyond Conflict, will discuss how brain science and an understanding of human behavior can help us solve some of the nation’s most pressing social challenges. Doors open at 6 p.m. for this event. The $15 admission includes a free drink, and students get in free with a school ID, but no drink included. (Monday, April 3 from 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m.; The Burren; $15 for non-students and free for students; all ages)

Wonderful Oceans: Life beneath the Waves

Bring your children to this interactive program, where they can see live marine animals, explore the Harvard Natural History Museum’s gallery of ocean life, and conduct their own experiments to learn more about the creatures that dominate the sea. Graduate students from the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard will also present some of their marine life research. Pre-registration is required for this event. (Saturday, April 8 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Harvard Museum of Natural History; $10 for members and $20 for nonmembers; ages 8 and older)

Colonial Entanglements: Tombos and the Emergence of Nubian Pharaohs

Archaeologist and professor Stuart Smith will explore the social and cultural dynamics that defined the relationship between Nubians and Egyptian colonists in the New Kingdom (about 1500–1070 B.C.), and how this eventually lead to a battle with the Assyrians (about 747–656 B.C.). A ticket is required for entry into this event. (Sunday, April 9 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Museum of Fine Arts; free; all ages)

Beyond the Telescope: A Universe of a Different Color


How colorful are the cosmos? Learn about the color spectrum of space with Kimberly Kowal Arcand, visualization lead for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Arcand will consider what we can learn about the universe when we explore beyond what the human eye can see. A separate ticket is required for entry into this event. (Wednesday, April 12 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Museum of Science; free; recommended for Grade 12 and above)

Music, Conservation, and the Environment

The Boston Athenaeum is hosting an evening of contemporary music performed by the ECCE ensemble, with all pieces designed to promote conversation about conserving our environment. The performance will be followed by a community forum, which will include presentations from leading environmental innovators. (Thursday, April 13 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Boston Athenaeum; $15 for members and $30 for non-members; all ages)

Sharks in Danger: Silver Fins and a Silver Lining?

The film Jaws may have sparked our fear of sharks, but in reality, our finned friends are the ones who should be afraid. Learn about the biology, diversity, and cultural impact of sharks on the ocean and the world around us, as well as advocacy efforts to counteract threats to the conservation of these creatures. Pre-registration is required for this event. (Thursday, April 13 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; New England Aquarium; free; all ages)

Frame by Frame: Snaps of the Intersection of Science and Photography

Three photographers will discuss the relationship between science and photography and how scientific knowledge influences their creative processes. The artists will then present samples of their own work. Author and gallery director Emily Handlin will moderate the panel. (Tuesday, April 18 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Boston Athenaeum; $15 for members and $30 for non-members; all ages)

Music and the Bilingual Brain


What’s the relationship between bilingualism and musical ability? Members of Project LENS, a Boston-based collaborative that explores the relationship between music and other fields of study, will join Harvard professor Gigi Luk to discuss how the cognitive effects of bilingualism can help people learn multiple instruments and develop different musical styles. (Friday, April 21 at 7 p.m.; Fitzgerald Theatre, Cambridge Rindge & Latin School; free; all ages)

Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions

Award-winning science journalist Richard Harris will discuss his book, Rigor Mortis, which looks at the effects of bad science on medical progress, the economy, and our everyday lives. Harris’ book includes personal anecdotes as well as interviews with some of the nation’s top medical researchers. (Tuesday, April 25 at 7 p.m.; Brookline Booksmith; free; all ages)

The Artist’s Voice

Artists and activists Nari Ward and Tania Bruguera consider the relationship between art and politics and how their work has influenced their citizenship and activism. Bruguera recently announced her candidacy for the Cuban presidency, and Ward is featured in a current exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art. This event is first-come, first-served, with tickets available at the box office two hours prior to the program’s start. (Thursday, April 27 at 7 p.m.; Institute of Contemporary Art; free; all ages)

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