Kal Penn helps kick off Seattle Science Festival.

Kal Penn has gone from White Castle to the White House. The actor may be better known for his stoner escapades in the Harold and Kumar film series, but he’s also recently worked for the Obama administration promoting science education and is the new host of The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius on the Discovery Channel. Penn, it turns out, is a bit of a nerd.

With its opening-night festivities at the Paramount Theatre, the Seattle Science Festival looks to prove science can be equal parts entertaining and thought provoking. Penn will narrate the West Coast premiere of multimedia piece Icarus at the Edge of Time, a futuristic film inspired by the story of Icarus and based on the 2008 novella by physicist Brian Greene, who’s one of the evening’s keynote speakers. Icarus boasts an original score by Philip Glass performed here by Garfield Symphony Orchestra, and a script co-written by Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang. Black holes and spaceships included.

For the less casually scientific audience, opening night also features speeches by noted theoretical physicists Sean Carroll and Adam Frank. Along with Greene, they'll discuss superstring theory, cosmology, and stellar evolution. You know... the simple stuff.

The Seattle Science Festival runs June 6–16. The festival's EXPO Day at Seattle Center—which offers family-friendly interactive experiences, along with the science of sword fighting and a “danger science” stage show—is June 8 from 10–6.

Seattle Science Festival Opening Night
June 6 at 8, Paramount Theatre, $30–$60