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MONDAY

You get the feeling that if Sir Martin Rees wasn’t a Cambridge University research professor, then maybe he’d be that guy with the “Starfleet Academy” bumper sticker on his pickup. Great Britain’s Astronomer Royal is consumed by the tantalizing possibilities of the astrophysical unknown that dance just beyond our current scientific reach. In his book Just Six Numbers, Rees hopes to explain it all to us—us being the lesser-educated, beer-swilling folks who haven’t seen a mathematical equation since that fuzzy period known as freshman year. Rees mainly details the numbers (count ’em—six) that determine how the universe functions, and speculates on such compelling topics as what might happen if you cannonballed into a giant black hole. Sir Martin will surely delve into this matter more deeply when he discusses the Big Bang and then some at 6 p.m. at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, 10th and Constitution Avenue NW. $20. (202) 357-3030. (Dave Mann)