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Science Underground: Sharing Science in Unexpected Places

February 7, 2014

The Science Center hosts conversations about science are often contained to lecture halls, laboratories, and libraries. The dialogue stays within scientist to scientist, and people outside academia often have no idea what their local scientists are doing. The Science Café event series is a global initiative that wants to change this idea. As a grassroots movement that started in Europe, Science Cafés take science out of inclusive academia and transplants it into a local pub, bookstore, library, or coffee shop.

Individuals that attend a Science Café are given a new piece of information, a fresh chunk of knowledge – something they can share with another friend, neighbor, or parent. This diffuses scientific knowledge and conversations out of concentrated circles around the university, and spreads science further into the community.

Science Underground - Science Cafés at Brown

The first Science Café at Brown, called “Science Underground,” took place on a Thursday night in September at the well-loved English Cellar Alehouse on Angell Street. The café invited Brown University’s Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences, Ralph Milliken, to give a concise and engaging talk about the one-year anniversary of the landing of NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover. Professor Milliken is a participating scientist on NASA's Mars Curiosity mission. After speaking, there was an open space for questions and comments about the whole project.

By inviting a scientist to present at a popular English pub, the Science Underground created a space where science is made accessible to everyone in the Providence area. Students from Brown and RISD, parents and children, other Brown professors, and residents from the Providence area were given the opportunity to learn about scientific endeavors of their fellow community members. Furthermore, it provided a forum where Professor Milliken was able to share his passion for his field of study in an informal and fun way.

Science Underground provides a space for science to leak out from closed, lab doors and scientific magazines, and enter into society in unexpected ways. For more information about Science Underground and upcoming events, please email