Blog Authors

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

The Exchange

Subscribe to The Exchange

The Technology Behind 'Minority Report'

Audiences flocked to to the futuristic thriller Minority Report when it debuted in 2002, impressed not just with thefilm noir mystery, but also the visually stunning futuristic world depicted onscreen. So naturally there was a packed house at the Hammer Museum on April 22 to hear a talk called "Beautiful Tools" by artist/scientist John Underkoffler of Oblong Industries -- part of a series of lectures sponsored by 5D on the future of immersive design. Underkoffler (who is an advisory board member of the Science & Entertainment Exchange) consulted on Minority Report, and drew on some of his own groundbreaking research at MIT while doing so. (He's also consulted on The Hulk, Aeon Flux, Stranger Than Fiction, and Iron Man.)

TV Weathercasters Get Colbert Treatment

Weathercasters have long held a special place on our local news teams. Culturally, they are perhaps best known for inaccurate forecasts and questionable fashion statements. To the untrained eye, it may seem that their only job requirements are neon smiles and a working knowledge of how to place cartoon graphics of altostratus clouds.

Event Recap: Obselidia Screening with Film Director Diane Bell

The Science and Entertainment Exchange, along with Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences, sponsored a special advance screening of the film Obselidia in Washington, D.C., this past Tuesday (April 6th). The film was directed by Diane Bell and played at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival where it won of the Alfred P. Sloan Prize - an award given to a feature film that has science or technology as a major theme or a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a main character in the storyline.

Obselidia explores our attitudes toward technology and how we think about a future that’s bound to be severely altered by environmental change. In the film, George, an encyclopedia salesman, shuns new technology. After the Internet wipes out his livelihood, he endeavors to write The Obselidia, a compendium of everything that is obsolete - including love.

Even Superheroes Need Their Science

This past weekend, the Science and Entertainment Exchange headed to San Diego for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Our session was a panel discussion entitled "Watching the Watchmen and Cheering the Heroes: The Science of Superheroes," bringing together two physicists, a biologist, a film screenwriter, and two TV writers.

C is for 'Caprica'

Fans of Battlestar Galactica are avidly following the brand-new "prequel" series,Caprica, which explores the genesis of the Cylon race that is created by, and then rebels against, their human creators. The series' technical script consultant, Malcolm MacIver, is an ideal person to provide insights on a fictional world that grapples with the implications of human consciousness, virtual worlds, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

Small Town Science

The Science and Entertainment Exchange found itself in Berkeley last week for Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's first-ever Science Cafe. The event featured Jaime Paglia, co-creator and showrunner for SyFy's hit TV series, Eureka, with a special Skype appearance by Colin Ferguson, who plays Sheriff Jack Carter on the show.

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Back in the 1990s, it was all the rage to play a game dubbed "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." It all started when three college students in Pennsylvania were watching the actor's performance in The Air Up There, and started competing to name all the movies in which Bacon had appeared, and other actors who performed with him. They realized that it takes remarkably few indirect relationships to tie Bacon to just about any actor in Hollywood -- 2.95 steps on average, to be exact.

Creating a Conversation Through 'Creation"

A brand new film, Creation, opens in theaters this Friday, January 22nd, in major cities across the country (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington DC) and will certainly stir pundits on both sides of the creation "debate" in the US. The film, starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connolly, follows the story of Charles Darwin and is based on the book by Randal Keynes, Darwin’s great-great-grandson.

"Rift" Sets Its Hero Adrift

Just when you thought the world was safe from universe-destroying black holes, comes a nifty short film from L Studio called Rift that explores just such a scenario. It's described as "a surreal interpretation of Pandora's Box about a scientist whose failed experiment results in the formation of a black hole that alters time and space, creating a chaotic Twilight-Zonesque nightmare."

Prusiner's Prions

While everyone loves the romantic notion of the scientific revolutionary who bucks a doubting "establishment" to change our understanding of the world, every now and then, that narrative comes true. In the early 1970s, an otherwise healthy woman became a patient in the University of California, San Francisco's neurology department; she was suffering from something called a "slow virus infection," specifically, a neurodegenerative condition called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Pages