Five Must-Attend Lectures in April

Shine up those spectacles, aspiring poindexters, because there are plenty of ways to up your I.Q. in April. Here are five lectures that will fit the brainy bill.

5. From the Big Bang to Big Brains @ Changing Hands Hubble Space Telescope astronomer Jeff Hester hosts a two-hour discussion about the evolution of the universe. We chatted with Hester about hot yoga, how learning about physics can be like attending a rock show, and his early retirement from a professorship at ASU. If it was any indication, we're fairly sure his talk at Changing Hands Bookstore will be conversational, informative, and, dare we say, fun. Bring along some questions to the talk on Wednesday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. Register and pre-pay for a $30 ticket by calling 480-730-0205.

4. Retrofitting Sprawl Symposium @ Phoenix Urban Research Lab Sprawl sucks. It makes for long commutes, clogged freeways, and decentralized culture. Since Valley residents can't all move their homes closer to Phoenix (we're having visions of Home Improvement's last show, does anyone else remember that?), retrofitting is really the only option for coping with our wide open spaces.

Get an idea of what that entails during Phoenix Urban Design Week's two-day symposium at PURL on Thursday and Friday, April 12 and 13, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 1 p.m. respectively. Guest speakers on the topic include authors, design professionals, professors, and evironmental experts. Admission is $25, which covers both days. RSVP and buy tickets here.

3. The Transit of Venus Through the Ages @ Bateman Physical Sciences Center ASU planetarium coordinator Ric Alling leads this planet gaze during which he'll explain the history of Venus' transiting the Sun -- when the planet becomes visible in front of the Sun. The next transit will take place June 6. Telescopes will be set up for viewing the night sky after the talk. The free lecture takes place at ASU Tempe's Bateman Physical Science Center in room F-173 on Friday, April 13, at 7 p.m.

2. Adam Richman and Andrew Zimmern @ Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts We've done our fair share of vicarious eating through Adam Richman's massive grub intake in chow contests on Man vs. Food. Although we can't say the same of Bizzare Foods host Andrew Zimmern's predilection for bugs, guts, and other things we deem inedible, hearing about his I'll-try-anything travails would certainly prove interesting. Both of the Travel Channel personalities will host talks as part of the Scottsdale Culinary Festival at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22, with Richman speaking at 1 p.m. and Zimmern at 3 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance (available here) and $40 the day of the event.

1. Van Gogh's Stories, Gaugin's Myths @ Phoenix Art Museum Dr. Mary Morton curates and heads the department of French paintings at the National Gallery. And that means she specializes in the lives and works of famed artists like Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gaugin. Once that jealous flush of red leaves your face, make note that Morton will lecture on the aforementioned artists' lives and how they're revealed through their works. Get an inside look at the real lives of the larger than life painters when Morton comes to Phoenix Art Museum on Wednesday, April 25, at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski