If you get tired of listening to authors at the Tucson Festival of Books, you can take the kids over to Science City, where they will be blowing stuff up, handling bugs and meeting desert critters.

Science City, a co-production of the University of Arizona College of Science, BIO5 Research Institute and the Arizona SciTech Festival, will offer tours of the world-renowned mirror lab, free admission to the UA Science Center and presentations at the college's various departments.

You can watch physicists blast atoms with attosecond lasers, have a 3-D virtual reality experience, tour the museum of optics and watch robots play Botball.

The colleges of engineering and medicine are also hosting booths and displays.

You can listen to some of the UA's top-flight scientists talk about their research and, of course, their books.

There will be appearances by the animals of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and a chance to check out Jimmy Stewart's Weather Bus.

Action on the main stage will be devoted to the kids, with children's authors and introductions to animals.

The show kicks off each day at 10 a.m. with a Chemistry of Combustion Show.


Science writer Chris Mooney has a theory about why it's so hard to bridge the ideological divide in this country.

Our brains are different.

Mooney's current book, "The Republican Brain," uses psychological studies and brain experiments to demonstrate how Republican (or conservative) minds are hard-wired to accept authority and reject arguments, however valid, that their views are wrong.

"The evidence here is quite strong: overall, liberals tend to be more open, flexible, curious and nuanced -and conservatives tend to be more closed, fixed and certain in their views," Mooney wrote in Mother Jones magazine.

That has led them to reject scientific arguments for things like climate change, evolution and a host of other issues outlined in a previous book, "The Republican War on Science."

Mooney, in a brief telephone interview, conceded that liberals can also be "susceptible to bad facts" in some situations.

"I agree, they're very irrational on things like GMOs (genetically modified organisms). They have this really, really heightened sense of moral responsibility to situations that pertain to inequality or unfairness, in this case corporate malfeasance. They (corporations) have too much money. It's unequal. It's unfair."

Bridging the gap is difficult, he said.

"You could have a political system and media structures that make people behave in such a way that you get punished for being extreme and going too far and you win by being in the middle and being reasonable. Culture can have a huge effect on behavior."

Unfortunately, we don't have that culture and the media isn't helping.

"All we're doing in media is pushing cultural buttons, pitting groups against each other, labeling people with color words that affect the left and right differently.

"That's how we talk and people respond with feelings."