Why "Life, the Universe & Hotdogs?"
Life, the Universe & Hotdogs?
In a world where it's hard to know what's genuine...
The simple clarity of a hotdog.
In 2009 the visionary owners of a quirky local bar on the west side of Cleveland, OH -the "Happy Dog Bar"- reduced its complex menu to just 4 things -gourmet hotdogs, field roast vegan dogs, fries and tater tots. And then gave over the entire creative enterprise to the people who actually ate the food.
Diners were presented with a universe of dips and toppings from chili, mac n cheese and fried eggs, to fresh vegetables to garlic aioli and chimichurri to Fruit Loops and Spaghetti-Os. They can have as many or as few as they want on their dog --all for the same price. And to go with it, cocktails, wine and a vast array of imported, domestic and microbrew beers in bottles or cans, with at least 20 on tap at any time.
The Happy Dog Bar took on the world.
Art. Live Music, and the "Happy Dog'
The Happy Dog started bringing cutting edge bands. Music you couldn't find anywhere else in the greater metro area. Happily, the bar was on the margins of Gordon Square, which was rapidly developing into a super cool arts area. Young people following their hearts, doing their own thing. So the music and the art and the dogs co-evolved in a super-creative symbiosis.
The 'Happy Dog' and Fundamental Science...
The Happy Dog then undertook an odd, revolutionary project to contribute certain cultural aspects to the neighborhood. Non-commercial culure not always very accessible to the arts community, but about which they were curious. Among other things, they invited the Cleveland Orchestra to perform among the more hip live music hosted in the bar, and asked the brand new "Institute for the Science of Origins" (itelf a joint project of Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and ideastream public broadcasting) to create a series of science talks suitable for the bar. In doing so, the scientists found they needed to create new ways of explaining and to take on a much more meta view of their science and challenge themselves to learn how other people relate to this scientific undertaking.
This became "Life, the Universe & Hotdogs"...
...and it has now Grown into a Movement.
Why is it a Movement?
Probably because it's like the dogs and tots and beer and music and art; origins science is genuine and cutting edge and open to the future. The Science of Origins being developed by the Institute involves a way of looking at science from a perspective that takes into account not only the current results of science, the ABC's that you can pick up anywhere, but that understands the way in which the nature of matter, of chemistry, of evolution, of the human mind, of medicine, are interrelated --not just because of the basic laws of nature but the ways in which the the world we see today is a product of the universe's own history, and how the future is continuously produced by both fundamental laws and shared history. That is, science at its most meta.
So it turned out that this vision of science fit into and immediately began taking part in the dynamic symbiosis evolving in and around the bar.
Who is Involved in this movement?
Anybody who wants to be. So, it's not just the perspective of Life, the Universe and Hotdogs that make it distinctive, it's the way in which it draws a diverse range of people together into a shared project of undertsanding the world in a new way. A new way rooted in scientific understanding but that takes the reductionism of science and integrates it into a wildly holistic way of being in the world --not some abstract hypothetical world, but the world as it is right now.
Like most movements worth their salt, it grows on the energy of young people and gets its direction and sustenance from the nature of that energy. Young scientists, closet geeks, random hippies, newly-minted professionals, brights and free thinkers, vegans, paleo-carnivores, modernist foodies, the energetic, artistic, creative folks that wonder about the world they find themselves in and want to make sense of it all on many, many levels.
People come to this project from all different directions and take away whatever they find cool and in doing that very simple thing we find this is enough just itself to let us see that we are, in fact, like-minded --despite our radical individuality. We are unified by our shared curiosity and enthusiasm --even though we come away with wildly different visions, desires and enthusiasms.
Science at its Most Meta.