SF Presents

SF Presents: Sci-Fi: More than Fiction?

Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium/2-GDFA (160 5th Avenue)

Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium/2-GDFA

160 5th Avenue


Registration link:


Registration is required for this free, in-person event and will close one day before this event. 

Cutting-edge physics can often seem like it operates beyond the realms of possibility. For example, scientists grapple with big questions around dark energy, quantum crystals and what happens in a black hole. But where science stops, our imaginations take over.

For over a century, the sci-fi genre has borrowed scientific concepts to construct narratives of possible futures. As a result, it has given life to the unimaginable and has undoubtedly served as inspiration for people all around the planet, including scientists.

This relationship leads us to wonder, how does science inspire fiction? And can it sometimes be the other way around?

Join us as we explore the blurred lines between science and fiction through the lens of television and the longest-running science show, BBC’s “Horizon.”

From Arthur C. Clarke to Stephen Hawking, Radiolab’s Molly Webster will guide our journey in revisiting some of the unseen archives with Steve Crabtree, executive producer at the BBC and former editor of the show, and one of our quantum physicists, LaToya Anderson, who was inspired to pursue a career in physics by her love of “Star Trek.”


Anderson is an associate research analyst for the Center for Computational Quantum Physics at the Flatiron Institute. She is particularly interested in the energetic, light, and magnetic properties of super atomic crystals, structures that are made up of clusters of atoms that can be tuned to enhance certain properties such as better energy storage in batteries and energy efficient solar panels. She comes from an applied physics background as a former physical chemistry research assistant and an environmental science research assistant. Anderson also served as an environmental educator for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and a CUNY Urban Ecology instructor for the STEM Academy at College Now. She has received numerous awards and competes as a masters athlete in Olympic weightlifting. She is currently pursuing a major in physics and a minor in computational science at Brooklyn College.

Crabtree is a multi-award-winning and Emmy-nominated BBC Studios executive producer responsible for a wide range of high-profile prime-time science, business and arts programs. He began his career in television on BBC1 science magazine program “Tomorrow’s World,” eventually becoming the Series Editor and Executive Producer of BBC2 science strand “Horizon” — responsible for commissioning and executive producing around 70 films. Before “Horizon,” Crabtree was the head of development in the BBC’s History and Business Department, responsible for numerous commissions, including the BAFTA-winning “Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners.” Before his television career, Crabtree painted nuclear submarines. Mostly black.

Webster is the senior correspondent at Radiolab. After completing a degree in biology, Webster pursued science journalism, writing for outlets such as Scientific American and National Geographic Adventure. Her ability to comprehend and totally immerse herself in complicated issues has helped Radiolab investigate international surrogacy, the price of a human life and more. She has adapted her audio and written work for the stage, including on the TED main stage. A frequent guest host on Radiolab, she developed, produced and hosted their first-ever special series, Gonads — a critically acclaimed podcast and live event series about the parts of us that make more of us. Webster has a forthcoming fictional children’s book about a lonely black hole.

5:30 p.m. Doors open
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. In Conversation
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Reception

Inquiries: sfpresents@simonsfoundation.org