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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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The Science of Special Effects

During our ramblings around YouTube, we came across this marvelous compendium showcasing the evolution of special effects in film since 1900, beginning with The Enchanted Drawing, and ending -- of course -- with the amazing anti-aging Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Who knows what the visual effects wizards will come up tomorrow?

 

 

All the Small Things

Science, entertainment and art converge in the work of Willard Wigan, a British artist who creates sculptures so tiny, they fit inside the eye of a needle, or on the head of a pin. In fact, you can't even see the sculptures without looking through a microscope.

Sparkle and Glow

Fans of Stephanie Meyers' Twilight series -- now coming to a silver screen near you - love the fact that her vampires "sparkle" in sunlight rather than burn up, a la Dracula. It's an intriguing departure from classical vampire lore, and far be it from us to argue with artistic license. But you don't have to be a broody vampire to have a bit of a glow about you.

Of Adam and Asperger's

Among the standouts at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year was a film by writer/director Max Mayer called Adam, which was honored with the Alfred P. Sloan Prize for outstanding feature film focusing on science and technology.

Talking Incentives

So, it's simply not true that scientists lack communication skills in any absolute sense. Successful scientists, by and large, have excellent communication skills. The problem is that those skills have been developed for communication to a very specific audience: other scientists in the same field. The communication strategies that are most effective for scientists talking to other scientists are often not effective when communicating to the general public.

For All Time

The film adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's bestselling novel, The Time Traveler's Wife, hits theaters this weekend. For those unfamiliar with the premise, it concerns a Chicago librarian named Harry (Eric Bana) who suffers from a rare genetic disorder that causes him to live on a constantly shifting timeline, shuttling back and forth between past, present and future with no control over this unusual quirk.

This understandably throws a wrench into his relationship with Clare (Rachel McAdams), who must cope with his sudden disappearances and re-appearances as best she can over the course of their marriage.

Let's leave aside the fact that no genetic disorder could possibly cause this kind of anomaly in the space-time continuum. We're talking about fantasy, after all, which demands a certain willing suspension of disbelief.

Home Smart Home

Fans of SyFy's Eureka are already familiar with the "character" of S.A.R.A.H. (Self Actuated Residential Automated Habitat), a literal "smart house" build inside an abandoned fallout shelter that serves as the residence of Sheriff Jack Carter.

S.A.R.A.H. is an AI that can open and close the hermetically sealed doors, control internal lights and temperature, and make sure Jack has a nice cold beer on tap and a tape of the latest baseball game when he gets home from a hard day's work. In a pinch, she can diagnose injuries and compare current DNA samples against samples on file.

The Zombies Are Coming!

Zombies are all the rage these days, what with the bestselling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; the pending release of Zombieland;and news that Max Brook's sci-fi classic, World War Z, is bound for the silver screen. But maybe it's time to call a halt to this never-ending battle with the Undead. Can't humans and zombies learn to get along and co-exist in harmony? According to a new paper by a group of Canadian epidemiologists -- no way, no how.

Virtual Science in Second Life

We all remember the frisson of delight when we watched The Matrix for the very first time, and thrilled to this incredibly convincing on-screen depiction of a truly virtual world. Gaming has cashed in on the explosion in computing power and networking capabilities to create highly realistic, nearly immersive playing fields.

Komix on Kindle: Leveling the Playing Field

Comics is a tough business. Even now, with seemingly nine out of ten movies in the theaters tied somehow to graphic novels or comics, it's still a surprisingly tough business, marred by an uneven playing field dominated by multi-billion dollar corporations, a single distributor system, and an outdated sales force. As an independent comic creator, until very recently the challenges of competing with Messrs. Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and Wolverine seemed insurmountable. Thank god for technology.

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