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

Under the Microscope

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The new film Ex Machina premiered this week and it is asking some serious questions about artificial intelligence (AI). It is not a new debate. 2013’s Her did a wonderful job of exploring what love is, attachment to a mind that is far more advanced, and what it means to be alive. This time around, however, we are being taken far deeper into the discussion about good and evil, and whether or not AI will be the end of humanity.


Matters of the heart and the laws of science are odd bedfellows, but at the Science & Entertainment Exchange’s recent event, The Science of Love, Chris McKinlay shared his experiences finding love on the internet. But this is no average tale!

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

“Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch…”

We like to consider ourselves some of the best matchmakers in the science and entertainment game. Finding scientists to explore some of the most remote and often obscure corners of their field to enrich Hollywood plotlines is the name of our game; and it’s not always so easy. Filmmakers have tough questions and scientists often have to dig deep to answer questions that you certainly won’t find in a textbook. 

It’s Not Science Fiction, It’s Science IN Fiction

Attention kids, any aspiring filmmakers out there?  If you think you’re the next Steven Spielberg or James Cameron, why not show off your talents for the world to see at the next Science and Engineering Festival, which is taking place April 26-27 in Washington D.C .?  The Festival is sponsoring a contest for students in grades 6 through 12.  To enter, you have to submit a short film (30-90 seconds) that showcases an example of science in popular culture.

Under The Microscope: Covert Affairs

Kevin Crowley admits it is a struggle to express things in layman’s terms due to primarily working in scientific environments where shorthand technical terms are the norm, but he was more than happy to help the writers of USA Network’s Covert Affairs. Covert Affairs is a one-hour spy drama television series with writers Chris Ord and Matt Corman at the helm.

Under the Microscope: Terra Nova

Sometimes science isn’t the solution. That’s the reality of science consulting and something Kevin Grazier, Planetary Scientist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory and one of The Exchange’s consultants, knows well. “Until a story starts shooting, and often times even after, the script is a living document,” he explained. “Over time, different story elements can either increase or wane in their importance.”

Under the Microscope: Fringe

How much science can you fit into an hour-long television show? When you talk to Glen Whitman and Rob Chiappetta, executive story editors on the hit Fox series Fringe, it almost seems like the answer is “an unlimited amount.” Science seems to be crammed into every nook and cranny of Fringe, so much, in fact, that Fox offers high school lesson plans that explore the science of specific episodes.

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.

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.