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Science of TRON

Listen to audio from the "Science of TRON" panel, featuring director Joe Kosinski, producer Sean Bailey, and science consultants Sean Carroll & John Dick. Learn More

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Scientist Spotlight: James Kakalios

Sure, we all wish we had superpowers at one time or another, but do we have any clue how to make those superpowers work in the real world? Well have no fear, physicist James Kakalios is here! The University of Minnesota professor, author of The Physics of Superheroes, and Exchange consultant has consulted on not one but three superhero films, including Watchmen, Green Lantern, and a project he can’t tell you about just yet. But what he can tell you is in the interview below.

Under the Microscope: Green Lantern

Whether it is a man dressing up as a bat to fight crime (Batman Begins), three mutants running a police department (Minority Report), or a man chosen to protect the universe using a ring (Green Lantern), the basic premises of most superhero and science-fiction movies can seem, well, silly. That is why Green Lantern director Martin Campbell challenged his production team to create a realistic, plausible (but fun) film.

Featured Entertainer: Tom Schulman

As a philosophy major at Vanderbilt University, screenwriter Tom Schulman had no intention of working in the film industry. But then, one fateful semester, a professor assigned a film project instead of a term paper. What followed is a long and successful career in film. Schulman is the brains behind Dead Poets Society, the hysterical comedy What About Bob?, and the dark comedy Eight Heads In A Duffel Bag.

Scientist Spotlight: May Berenbaum

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a … giant flying beetle? This summer’s blockbusters might be all about superheroes but let’s not forget one of the original hallmarks of science-fiction films: insects. Entomologist and Exchange consultant May Berenbaum knows all about insects’ cinematic achievements. Each year, she organizes the Insect Fear Film Festival at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which highlights the best of Hollywood’s creepy crawlers.

Under the Microscope: House, M.D.

Most people cannot remember what they had for lunch the other day, or what the weather was like two weeks ago, or any number of small details about their daily lives. But for the handful of people with hyperthymesia, or “extreme autobiographical memory,” these details are clear and vibrant. An individual with hyperthymesia could recall any detail from any day of his life – say, what the weather was on October 21, 1976, or what they ate for lunch on December 8, 1987 – as long as they lived it, they remember it. 

Featured Entertainer: Alex McDowell

Production designer Alex McDowell has one strict rule: Don’t repeat the same genre. His eclectic work history ranges from the graphic novel adaptation Watchmen, to the animated children’s film Bee Movie to the futuristic world of Minority Report, proving his rule has served him well. McDowell is also an advisory board member for The Exchange and as you can read below, he is not shy about expressing his love for science and science consulting.

Scientist Spotlight: Ricardo Gil da Costa

As part of the “rapid response” team for the hit TV show Fringe, neurobiologist Ricardo Gil da Costa is “on call” to answer questions for the science-curious Fringe writers. Not an easy task when you’re also researching neuroscience and biology in your laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies – but Ricardo pulls it off with ease. Since joining The Exchange as a science consultant in 2008, he’s consulted on Fringe, as well as a number of film and TV projects to be announced.

Featured Scientist: Ricardo Gil da Costa

Part of the “rapid response” team for the hit TV show Fringe, neurobiologist Ricardo Gil da Costa is “on-call” to answer questions for the science-curious Fringe writers. Not an easy task when you’re also researching neuroscience and biology in your laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies – but Ricardo pulls it off with ease. Since joining The Exchange as a science consultant in 2008, he’s consulted on Fringe as well as a number of film and television projects to be announced.

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Featured Entertainer: Jeff Silver

He’s the producer behind 300, Terminator: Salvation, Tron: Legacy, and more films than you can hardly imagine. But you might be surprised to learn Jeff Silver’s career in filmmaking started with a Bar Mitzvah gift from his aunt, a Super 8 camera. It’s a wonderful reminder of how a small moment can change everything, which might explain why Silver chose to use science advising for Terminator: Salvation and Tron: Legacy – those small science details could change anything, from a character to a storyline.

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