David Grinspoon is a local treasure, and we're lucky to have him: The astrobiology curator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, he's not at all what you expect a scientist to be like. Instead, Grinspoon, who is also a musician and a funny guy, channels the downright psychedelic aspects of the final frontier, not unlike that famousacid-trip of a sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey
. For instance, he's lately been making the rounds with a lecture entitled "Is There Art on Other Planets?" Well, why not? As he goes on to prove, art doesn't have a requirement of life, although it doesn't hurt. "It's a whimsical title meant to be taken in a fun way, but it also raises some serious, worthwhile questions," Grinspoon says of that entertaining take on space science. "The first one would be, do we see art on other planets? The answer is yes, but why? What does that say about nature and our own minds? We can look out on an alien landscape that no one has seen before and find it beautiful. Another question would be: Are there artmakers on other planets? When you think about alien intelligences making art, you then have to think about what art is and how bound up it is in the nature of consciousness. Why do we make art? And what can we expect to have in common with other creatures in universe? You don't know the answer by the end of the lecture, but it will still be be entertaining and thought-provoking. Plus, you get to see some great images from planetary explorations." The same is true of Grinspoon's restaging ofLife Out There
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, first performed at the museum two years ago to resounding kudos, which opens tonight for two nights in the Gates Planetarium. A collaboration with fellow DMNS scientist Ka Chun Yu and House Band of the Universe, which features the Grinspoon and an all-star cast of locals, the evening juxtaposes spacey -- nay, "psychoastrobiofunkiliscious" -- music and state-of-the-art digital visuals. It is, to be blunt, out of this world. Prepare to be blown away if you go, space cadets.
Tour the funky universe today or tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the Gates Planetarium, DMNS, 2001 Colorado Boulevard; for tickets, $12 to $15, visit the museum website or call 303-370-6000. Reservations are highly recommended, as these shows will sell out.
See our complete 100 Colorado Creatives profile of Dr. Grinspoon tomorrow in Show and Tell!