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A nightclub for nerds makes science cool in New York

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Despommier is just the latest scientist to be surprised – and amazed – by the rock-star reception accorded them by the Secret Science Club, which likes to describe itself as: “Underground, shrouded in mystery, and chock-full of brainiacs.”

Neuroscientists, marine biologists, astrophysicists, paleontologists, and genomics experts have all taken a bow at the Secret Science Club since it started three years ago, and come away dazzled by the experience.

“Our goal is to make science fun and vibrant and part of the culture of the city,” says Ms. Mittelbach, a journalist and author of two quirky books on natural history. “Not something separate, beyond reach, in an ivory tower. We want to integrate it, make science a part of people’s lives.”

The laid-back atmosphere, science-themed beverage concoctions, eclectic music (often live bands play topic-appropriate tunes), and occasional films help attract a chic, cerebral crowd.

“I come every month if I can,” says Rebecca McMackin. “It’s a good place to meet people who like science.”

“It’s a lot of fun to come out to see people who are actually going out of their way to learn something,” explains another Secret Science Club regular. “It’s dorky, I guess – but it’s filled with people who are just curious and want to learn.”

The sessions attract an eclectic mix of people in all professions, from carpenters, painters, and photographers to musicians, graphic designers, and Wall Street wizards.

“People say science is a dying field,” says Despommier. “Clearly it’s not!”

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