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

Muppet Labs: Where the Future Is Being Made Today

Brace yourselves, moviephiles, for the return of some major stars to the big screen next week. That’s right, it’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the Muppets on … The Muppets movie! (You try rewriting the theme song to make that work. Not easy.) 

In Time and Immortality: Is It Only a Matter of Time?

Time is money, so the saying goes, but in Andrew Niccol’s latest film In Time, time is money. A bus ride home will cost you 2 hours, a cup of coffee is 4 minutes, and a car could cost you years. Time is the currency, and you are given only a year. In the future, In Time posits, humans stop aging at 25. After that each person receives 365 more days to live, which they watch countdown on a clock glowing bright green on their arm. The poor work each day for more time, dying as the cost of living rises. (As Justin Timberlake’s character remarks, “For one day, I’d like to wake up with more hours on my arm than there are in the day.”) The rich are immortal.

Star Wars, Star Trek, Scientists, and Science

We have heard it time and time again, scientists and engineers everywhere, professing deep love and admiration for science fiction, and in particular, a fondness for Star Wars and Star Trek. In an unofficial (and totally unscientific) polling of The Exchange’s Scientist Spotlight interviewees, Star Wars ranked #1 in stealing the hearts (and creative minds) of scientists. (Star Trek ranked #2, with 2001: A Space Odyssey in the #3 spot.) “What we hear from a lot of the scientists we talk to is that science fiction was part of their inspiration when they were kids,” explained Glen Whitman, an executive story editor for Fringe.

The Exchange November Update: Look What We've Been Up To!

While the weather is turning cooler outside, business is hot at The Exchange! We completed our 350th consult in September, and we are quickly moving toward number 400. As art director François Audouy put it:

"It was a wonderful resource to have access to top scientists provided by The Exchange on Green Lantern. Always a pleasure for me, and Green Lantern was no exception. I hope we can find another opportunity on a future film.

— François Audouy, Art Director, Green Lantern

Thanks to everyone who continues to use our services and of course a HUGE thank you to our volunteer consultants – we could not do it without you!

National Academy of Sciences Awards GameDesk $225,000 Grant

National Academy of Sciences Awards GameDesk $225,000 Grant to Develop Science Based Interactive Game for Classrooms

As part of its Science & Entertainment Exchange, the National Academy of Sciences today announced that the GameDesk Institute will be awarded $225,000 to develop its Science in Motion project, an "embodied" game that provides a learning experience that actively engages students physically and mentally in difficult science topics.

Halloween Costumes for the Science Obsessed

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!

1. Schrodinger’s cat

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.

Event Recap: Losing Control

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. 

Event Recap: Flatliners and The Science of Near-Death

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. 

Eight Facts You Didn't Know About Fear

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.

Look No Further Than Cable Television to Get Your Fix of Science & Entertainment

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.