It’s Halloween! You have probably already donned a costume this past weekend, but if you are in need of a quick, witty costume for tonight (or next year – it is never too early to plan a Halloween costume), we have some science-based suggestions for you. No, we will not be suggesting Einstein or Madame Curie – notable but clichéd science costumes. Check out our suggestions below, and if you have one to add, leave it in the comments!
Is the cat alive or dead? Or is it both? The classic Schrodinger’s cat is an easy costume. Find a large cardboard box and cut out two holes to fit your body through. Slap on a pair of cat ears, drawn-on whiskers, and a tail for good measure. Bottle of poison, optional.
What happens when a scientist becomes a filmmaker? In the case of Valerie Weiss, a filmmaker with a Ph.D. in Biophysics, she finds herself “losing control.” Weiss’s film Losing Control is a quirky romantic comedy about a female scientist who needs empirical proof that her boyfriend is “the one.” The film was viewed at a special advanced screening on October 25, 2011, at the E Street Cinema in Washington, DC, courtesy of The Exchange and the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences (CPNAS). A thought-provoking discussion of the film’s portrayal of science, scientists, and the general topic of women in science followed the screening, featuring Weiss; actor John Billingsley; two female scientists, Barbara Arial Cohen and Leslie Zebrowitz; and moderator Anne-Marie Mazza, director of the Science, Technology, and Law (STL) Program at the National Academies.
Is there an afterlife? In the 1990 thriller Flatliners, five medical students attempt to find the answer through near-death experiences. Four of the students undergo a process of death (“flatlining”) and resuscitation. The film is a dark meditation on what happens when the living try to navigate the space between life and death, as the students’ past sins are brought back to haunt them.
The film, director Joel Schumacher stated at a screening at the Imagine Science Film Festival on October 19, is about amends. The characters, he pointed out, need to find grace, like Kevin Bacon’s character who apologizes to a woman he taunted in grade school. Joining Schumacher for a panel discussion of the film and the science of death were moderator Jad Abumrad, RadioLab host; Benjamin Abella, MD, from the Center for Resuscitation Science; and Christian Macedonia, MD, a U.S. Army surgeon.
The only thing you have to fear is fear itself … in which case you are suffering from phobophobia, the fear of fear. Okay, phobophobia is probably not what Franklin D. Roosevelt was referring to in his famous speech but how odd is a phobia of fear? And what you might find even more peculiar is the science behind fear. Neurologists and psychologists are studying fear to determine how phobias and anxiety disorders form, how to treat them, and even how to predict them.
Back in May, the New York Times touted the number of new shows with out-of-this-world themes slated to be on the broadcast networks’ Fall schedules. The new Fall season has now arrived, and it is probably safe to conclude that among the shows, only one – Terra Nova – provides at least an opportunity for science to get caught up in entertainment. The other shows featured in the New York Times piece – Grimm, Once Upon a Time, The Secret Circle, and A Gifted Man – have fantasy elements, but no intersection with science, it seems.
So, The Exchange decided to check out what is new this season on networks other than ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, and NBC, using The Futon Critic’s comprehensive listing.
Women and girls have a message for comic book writers everywhere: We like superheroes, too! Across the internet female bloggers are taking aim at DC Comics’ rebooted Catwoman and Starfire, two popular female superheroes. The controversy is over the superheroes’ sexualized costumes and sexualized actions in the new comic books, which has angered many femalereaders. But whatever you think of the controversy, the message from female readers is clear: Write comic books for us too.
In 1993, bioterrorists in Japan attempted an aerosol dissemination of B. anthrasis, the Anthrax pathogen. But Japanese authorities did not discover the attack until 1999. After neighbors reported a foul, gassy substance spewing from a nearby building, samples of the substance were collected… then stored in a lab until 1999. Cultures of the substance revealed it to be B. anthrasis, but thankfully, it was also revealed to be the vaccine strain, which is harmless to humans. Still, the scenario is frightening. “Here is an instance where an organization had the resources and the expertise, and utilized them,” said Stephen Pagagiotas, a Public Health/Emergency Coordinator with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and one of four speakers at The Exchange’s “Bioterrorism: Science & Security” event in Los Angeles.