Amphibious light orbs invade the Charles this weekend (Sat-Sun 7-10pm)

Hear those thunderclaps overhead? It's the sound of a zillion neurons being blown in Cambridge. Yes, it's raining science in People's Republic this weekend -- ever since the Cambridge Science Festival kicked off last Saturday, you can't swing a Schroedinger's cat in Central Square without hitting something brainy. Last weekend, you may have wandered through MIT's "Under the Dome" celebration, which transformed the 'Tute's labs into research petting zoos, inviting plebes to gawp at glittering aluminum origami towers in the Infinite Corridor and getting a faceful of hurricane-blast wind in the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel. Good times.

And as the Cambridge Science Fest draws to a close, they've saved some pyrotechnics for the end. That would be "Light Drift," in which nearly 100 glowing orbs will turn the Charles River into a watery starfield. Quoth MIT:

LIGHT DRIFT is an interactive lighting installation that will appear along the Memorial Drive side of the Charles River and draw viewers into a playful engagement with the artwork, the river's edge, and each other. Ninety brightly glowing orbs in the river will change color as they react to the presence of people along the shore.

The brainchild of Boston artist (and associate professor of architecture at MIT) J. Meejin Yoon, "Light Drift" gives spectators the opportunity to create their own aquatic Lite Brite designs. In addition to the flotilla of river orbs, there are 18 control orbs on the shore; when you walk by them, "they try to blink and invite you to sit in them." And once you plunk yourself down, the shore orbs change color -- and (thanks to an embedded transmitter) so do their corresponding river orbs. "The public actually choreographs the piece," says Yoon, "and it becomes sort of a public-scale game."

According to MIT, rain or shine, there will be orbs. And though the official end time is 10pm, we hear they're leaving it on till the wee hours (~2am). Don't miss.

The "Light Drift" installation is viewable along the Charles River, May 6-7 @ 7-10pm. FAST Installation Tours at 7:30pm, 8pm, 8:30pm, 9pm, leaving from Building 7 Lobby (at 77 Massachusetts Avenue), Info Pavillion (at Memorial Drive near Hayden Library), and Building 10 (at Killian Court). More info available here.

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