Creation, Darwin, and Movie Censorship

When I first moved to the United Kingdom I had a bit of a shock upon seeing a £10 note. Currency in the United States features revered presidents and revolutionary war heroes. Yet, staring back at me on another country’s official currency was a man reviled by a large section of the American public: Charles Darwin.

When Galaxies Collide

In a fantastic example of entertainment lending its services to science, actress (Buffy, Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog) and Webseries creator (The Guild) Felicia Day stars in this new PSA from Spitzer Science Center, correcting some of the misconceptions about new findings on colliding galaxies from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

Science of the Living Dead

This week The Science & Entertainment Exchange hosted a screening and panel discussion of George Romero's latest zombie film, Survival of the Dead at The Director's Guild of America. (See photo on right, from left to right) Author Max Brooks (World War ZThe Zombie Survival Guide) moderated the evening.

If There Were No Science Consultants...

Watching the latest episode of House last night, we were struck by the impressive use of medical terminology throughout. It reminded us of just how hard writers and their staff on such shows work to bring plausibility to their fictional world. Sure, people love to joke about the constant parade of obscure, rare diseases encountered by House and his cohorts, and how the disease of the week never seems to be lupus, but the writers have certainly done their homework.

If you're wondering what House, Grey's Anatomy, Mercy, orTrauma would be like without that army of staffers and science consultants, check out this hilarious sketch by British comedy duo Mitchell and Webb:

Sizzle Me This

What might happen to an idealistic marine biologist after he decides to leave the Ivory Tower? If you're Randy Olson, you become an independent filmmaker. First, you make a splash with a short music video about the sex life of barnacles. Then you take on intelligent design and the failure of the scientific community to make their counter-arguments about evolution convincingly to the public with a quirky documentary called Flock of Dodos.

Imagine That

Fans of science and film who'll be in New York City over the next couple of weeks should check out the second annual Imagine Science Film Festival, from October 15 through October 23. The festival will screen some 50 films from nine different countries at such venues as Tribeca Cinemas, New York all of Science, CUNY Graduate Center and The New School.

The over-arching message is "science is for everyone," according to festival founder Alexis Gambis, who has a PhD in genetics and molecular biology from Rockefeller University, and has just enrolled as a film student at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. "There is a definite need to create a dialogue between scientists and the public," he says. "The [festival] provides a creative platform for scientists to share their inspiration with the public in relatable and engaging ways."

Warp Drive: We're Not There ... Yet

One of the Star Trek franchise's most enduring legacies in science fiction is the fictional "warp drive" technology that enables faster-than-light travel. It's not the kind of thing that can be achieved with conventional rockets, but that doesn't mean it's entirely outside the realm of scientific plausibility. In fact, there's a long tradition of physicists writing speculative technical papers suggesting ways in which a warp drive or hyperdrive might come about.

My Favorite Cyborgs

Some of the most popular characters in science fiction are its artificial creatures: the robots like R2D2, the androids like Commander Data. I like them too, especially Data, but there’s another type of artificial creature I find more interesting. Or I should say semi-artificial, because I’m talking about cyborgs – cybernetic organisms: half living organic beings, half cold, dead steel, plastic, and computer chips.

 What is intriguing about cyborgs is the tension between the two halves. In the 1987 film RoboCop, the level of crime in Detroit requires a new kind of policing. Enter RoboCop, a metal body with super physical capabilities that’s given intelligence and personality by an implanted brain from a dead policeman. RoboCop is an outstanding law officer, but inside that casing is a mind that yearns for the warm human connections it once had but can never recover.

This Is Your Brain On Lies

What would the world be like if nobody could lie -- not even a harmless little white lie? It would probably be like the world envisioned by British comic actor Ricky Gervais in The Invention of Lying, where brutal honesty is the order of the day, until Gervais' hapless character suddenly develops the ability to lie, or in his words, "I said something... thatwasn't!" We are treated to an image of neurons in his brain firing in new ways at that pivotal evolutionary moment.

Eyes on Saturn

We nearly missed the lovely profile of astrophysicist Carolyn Porco that appeared last week in The New York Times. Porco trailblazed was part of the team that analyzed data from the Voyager spacecraft in the 1980s, making her one of the young up and coming "rock stars" of space science.