The center's fifth annual Genius Awards on Friday night in Jersey City proved a perhaps more unlikely hypothesis: Scientists can be really funny, too.
Scientists getting hate mail from kids? Legendary architect Frank Gehry making references to an episode of “The Simpsons”?
You had to be there.
The gala, perhaps the premier event in the state during the spring philanthropic season, didn't disappoint the crowd of more than 700 who were.
This year's honorees, as well as Liberty Science Center Director Paul Hoffman, did it in style in a fast-paced, entertaining evening.
Hoffman, a genius in his own right, is perhaps equally known for his T-shirt-only wardrobe. In fact, when retelling how he actually purchased a suit for this occasion, he had the crowd roaring when he talked about immediately getting a fraud alert text from his bank after the purchase.
Hoffman highlighted so many of the wonderful things the Liberty Science Center has accomplished, including 650,000 visitors a year, and more than 13,000 family memberships — both well above where the center stood when he was named CEO and president in 2011.
Hoffman, however, is happier still about what's to come, highlighting the $5 million donation by Liberty Science Center trustee Jennifer A. Chalsty, which will help the center build the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere in 2017.
The dome, Hoffman noted, will be so big that the better-known Hayden Planetarium in New York City will be able to fit inside it.
Hoffman is equally excited about SciTech City, which will be built on the 16-acre lot adjacent to the center. The city, he said, will help "totally transform" New Jersey.
"We want to put the world's best science school, K-12," he said. "We want to build an incubator for 100 startup companies and also a place where established companies can come and experiment with new ideas.
"You heard (Allergan CEO and Liberty Science Trustee) Brent Saunders talk about open science. It's not enough to stay within the walls of your own company, this is a big world and you should be mixing it up with other people and that's what we're going to do in this place, create a community of innovators. We're going to have a science hotel there, so when visiting entrepreneurs or potential business partners of the incubator (arrive), they can stay there. And when many of the people who have come here and won genius awards ... want a place where they can start their next companies."
Hoffman then got to the real point of the evening, fundraising, announcing the event had raised more than $2.7 million to help fund the center and its future plans.
For Bergeron’s full story, click here.