A hands-on display at last year’s Cambridge Science Festival demonstrates one of the precepts of the event and shows why it drew 30,000 people: Make science fun. (Photo: Cambridge Science Festival)

The Cambridge Science Festival starting Friday will test even the most ardent science lover. How much science can you take?

The fourth annual festival launches officially at noon Saturday at the Cambridge Main Library with a specially commissioned laser show, then opens the doors to an 89-booth science carnival, a treasure hunt, game shows, multimedia contests, science-themed theater, five-minute lectures and brown-bag lunches with Nobel laureates — dozens of events, most free, over nine days. A complete list is here.

“What better place to celebrate all things scientific than right here in Cambridge, home to many of the greatest scientists and engineers in the world,” said festival founder and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum director John Durant. “No place else on Earth has the concentration of superstar researchers, science- and math-based companies and big ideas.”

The festival, which begins Friday but has an official launch Saturday, brings together all sorts of science for all age groups. (Photo: Cambridge Science Festival)

The festival is a collaboration among MIT, Harvard University, the city of Cambridge, WGBH and the Museum of Science, with sponsors including the National Science Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council and Cambridge Community Foundation; MIT’s Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program and Biogen Idec Foundation; and firms such as Alnylam, Amgen, Analog Devices, BioMed Realty Trust, CDM, Cubist, Draper Labs, Elsevier, Genzyme, Google, IBM, MathWorks, Novartis, Microsoft, Pfizer, and Vertex.

There will be free shuttle service to the carnival from the Harvard, Kendall and Central Square Red Line MBTA stations.

“The Cambridge Science Festival is a way for the whole community to get involved with the globally significant work going on all around us,” Durant said.

It’s also fun, he noted — designed to be with inspiration from art, music and film festivals — and promises to make science accessible and engaging, highlighting the impact of science and technology “in our day-to-day lives and beyond.”

While the offerings may seem overwhelming, response has been as well. Organizers said last year’s festival drew more than 30,000 visitors to its workshops, demonstrations, behind-the-scenes tours, talks, performances, film screenings and more. The total number of events is about the same as last year, although there are more offerings in the carnival, said Nilagia McCoy, a media consultant with the festival.

Among the events organizers are highlighting is “Big Ideas for Busy People,” a free event with hints of Cambridge’s other top science event, the Ig Nobel Prizes and its five-minute lecture series. “Big Ideas” has its premiere 7 p.m. Friday at The Laboratory at Harvard. It’s described as “a short, sharp series of 10 brilliant, expertly refereed talks by some of Cambridge’s finest,” including Lisa Randall, Ed Boyden, Nicholas Christakis, George Church, Alan Guth, Marc Hauser, Rebecca Saxe, Peter Galison, Angela Belcher and Pardis Sabeti. Each scientist gets five minutes per talk and another five minutes for questions. A reception with the speakers follows.

(And of course the festival is on Facebook and Twitter — but along with the youth video competition and Curiosity Challenge, there’s a Twitter contest that runs until May 2.)

This post is the product of press releases.