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 Nose Knows: An Electronic Nose

Dog noses are more sensitive to many chemicals than human noses are.Readers of this blog already know how fiction can inspire real science and we’ve got another example to show you today: the electronic nose. Ray Bradbury’s science fiction classic Fahrenheit 451 features the concept, as does the 1994 children’s film Richie Rich

In Richie Rich, Professor Keenbeam (who heads the research and development department for the Richs’ company) invents all sorts of technology, including an electronic nose that resembles a hairdryer with a pig’s nose on the front. It sounds strange but it becomes essential to the plot – it saves Richie’s parents from explosives hidden on their airplane. (Richie also uses it to detect what’s in his birthday presents.)

Villain Science: The Magnetizing Magneto

Something strange seems to be happening in Eastern Europe as of late. Something very, very strange. Something … magnetic. Recently circulated videos showcase the so-called magnetic children of Croatia and Serbia. One video shows 6-year-old Ivan Stoiljkovic’s bare chest covered in spoons and forks. In another video, 10-year-old Jelena Momcilov places a metal ladle against her “magnetic” palm, letting it dangle with her fingers outstretched.

What You Need to Know to Survive a Zombie Disease

It's going to take more than washing your hands to save you from the zombie diease.If you stay up late at night worrying about the impending zombie apocalypse, you will be happy to hear the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a blog post outlining exactly what you need to do to keep yourself (and your family) safe from the undead. But while the CDC provides great tips for preparing for an emergency of epidemic proportions, if you want to survive the zombies, you will also need to arm yourself with knowledge of infectious diseases and how they spread.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Maybe you have not noticed but there are quite a few talking animals in television and film. From a talking parrot (Paulie) to talking bees (Bee Movie), and beyond, there are conversational critters everywhere. What’s with humans’ fascination with talking animals? Who knows, but if the Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT) project has any success, we humans will soon be experiencing two-way communication with one of the most intelligent mammals on Earth: dolphins.

Annoyed? Blame Your Brain

Hey, wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world? Harry and Lloyd from Dumb & Dumber are clueless about almost everything around them – except a surprising expertise in how to be annoying. Lloyd’s “most annoying sound in the world” hits all the right, aggravating notes; it’s unpleasant, distracting, difficult to ignore, and you do not know when it will stop – it’s pure obnoxiousness. How could it not be annoying?

Let the Games Begin!: Learning Science Through Gameplay

“Lure of the Labyrinth” teaches pre-algebra concepts through a series of puzzles (and they meet a few monsters along the way!)Imagine telling your child to “turn off that computer game and go finish your homework.” Then imagine your surprise as he replies, “But this is my homework.” You might think he’s trying to pull a fast one – a computer game as homework? What kind of teacher would assign that? Well, actually, a math or science teacher would. Okay, but why? We asked that question to Eric Kopfler, Director of the MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program (MIT STEP) and the Director of The Education Arcade (TEA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

3-D: Seeing It From All Sides

3-D Conversion of Movie Poster by 3-D Revolution Productions.It seems 3-D technology is everywhere these days. From 3-D films to 3-D television sets, the technology appears to be catching on as the latest entertainment craze. But you might be surprised to learn 3-D technology was pioneered in the early 1900s. The first 3-D film, The Power of Love, was shown in 1922, nearly 88 years ago. Remarkable, right? 

Science: As Easy a Riding a Bike

What is your first memory of science? If your first thought is a classroom, think farther back. What about a visit to an aquarium or a zoo? Or the first time your parents explained why or how something works? Think back to your Easy-Bake Oven – chemistry! – or collecting fireflies – biology! – and you’ll start to see the hidden signs of science all around you.

Sport Science: There’s a lesson behind every play

Who is better at hitting a target’s bull’s-eye? Super Bowl–winning quarterback Drew Brees or an Olympic archery competitor? The answer will probably surprise you.

Monday’s collegiate championship game featured lots of action on the basketball court. But none of those actions included a player breaking a backboard with a dunk shot. Not long ago a shattered backboard brought an extra element of excitement to the game, but is that now a thing of the past? Believe it or not, a piano helps determine the answer to that question, and not in a musical way.

Growing up Green: Environmental Films for Children

When you hear the words “environmental film fest,” the first image that pops into your head is probably one of serious-looking people watching serious-looking documentaries.  What you might not imagine is a room full of children watching an animated krill talking about ocean pollution. But if you were lucky enough to attend the 19th Annual Environmental Film Festival’s “Smart Creatures” presentation, that’s exactly what you’d see. 

Pages