Oscars for Science! Genius Gala Honors Jack Horner, Kip Thorne

Jeff Bezos
Amazon.com and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos was honored at the Genius Gala in 2015. (Image credit: Liberty Science Center)

There will be glitz and glam at the fifth annual Genius Gala, not to mention selfie-taking drones and R2-D2s wandering around amidst a crowd of scientists.

The awards ceremony, hosted by the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey, will honor four outstanding scientists: legendary dinosaur hunter and "Jurassic Park" advisor Jack Horner, renowned architect Frank Gehry, "mother of mindfulness" psychologist Ellen Langer, and astrophysicist and black hole researcher Kip Thorne, who assisted moviemakers on the scientific aspects of the film "Interstellar."

Special guest Whoopi Goldberg, the moderator of ABC's "The View," will present the awards at the Liberty Science Center tonight (May 20). Look for Live Science's Facebook Live coverage of the event this evening after 6 p.m. ET.  [8 Strange Things Scientists Have Tasted]

Goldberg and Horner, who both have dyslexia, will raise awareness about the condition. Horner told Live Science that dyslexia made growing up "just terrible, because everybody thinks that you're stupid and lazy."

Dyslexia made reading and test taking near impossible, he said. Yet after flunking out of college seven times, he managed to become a world-renowned paleontologist, being the first to find evidence that some dinosaurs were social animals and cared for their young. These days, he's trying to reverse-engineer a chicken into a dinosaur with colleagues all over the world.   

"We really want people of singular brilliance who were ahead of their fields, and their fields caught up to them," said Liberty Science Center CEO Paul Hoffman. "Jack is a perfect example. He dug up the first dinosaur embryos, and then he came up with the idea that there was complicated social behavior in dinosaurs and that they cared for their young. He was a part of a group of pioneering paleontologists who thought that dinosaurs were closer to birds than to reptiles. All of this was heretical at the time, and now it's common wisdom."

In past years, the Liberty Science Center has honored other extraordinary minds, including English businessman and investor Sir Richard Branson, anthropologist Jane Goodall, neurologist Oliver Sacks, Amazon.com and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, and animal scientist and autism advocate Temple Grandin.

The new honorees will be featured in the science center's interactive Genius Gallery, a museum spokesperson said. Also in attendance at the gala will be 23-year-old Fabiano Caruana, the third-highest-ranked chess player in the world and the current U.S. national champion.

Gala highlights will include musical performances by violin duo Peter Dugan and Charles Yang, as well as the environmentalist Benjamin Bronfman, a cameo video for Jack Horner featuring Neil DeGrasse Tyson, a performance by magician Marco Tempest and a chess match between Baltimore Ravens guard and mathematician John Urschel and Caruana.

Proceeds from the gala will benefit the science center's mission to share science and technology with the public, and will help fund the center's exhibitions, programs and science education outreach to 91,000 at-risk children in the area, according to a statement from the center.

Follow Laura Geggel on Twitter @LauraGeggel. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Laura Geggel

Laura is the archaeology and Life's Little Mysteries editor at Live Science. She also reports on general science, including paleontology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site on autism research. She has won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in science writing from NYU.