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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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Robots, Aliens and Pilot Season, Oh My!

It’s pilot season, that time of the year when first episodes are filmed and TV network executives make crucial decisions as they place bets on which new series are likely to attract large audiences. Of course, the number of new shows that make it past the pilot stage is extremely small. Only a select few will receive a network order for additional episodes. Nevertheless, it’s fun to read about new ideas and see who’s been cast to play lovable, smarmy, smart, dumb -- or just plain evil – on the small screen.

Every year the Exchange takes a look at the Complete Guide to TV Pilots on a quest to discover which of these potential new shows may incorporate science (or maybe even math) in their story-telling.  

Sips and Snacks for a Science-Filled New Year

New Years Eve is the perfect time to surround yourself with family and friends to celebrate the passing of another exciting year! 

2012 has been a wonderful year here at The Exchange, filled with new consults, fantastic events and plenty of new faces. We hope that this past year has been equally as extraordinary for you, and that 2013 will bring you opportunities for growth and prosperity. 

Plus, we all survived the Mayan Apocalypse, so give yourself a pat on the back!

Whether you are ringing in the new year at a festive bash, or plan on curling up on the couch with a furry friend and some snacks, we wanted to give you a few recipes to help you scientifically spice up your evening!

Below, you can find recipes for some delicious science-themed sips, sweets and snacks to spice up your night on December, 31st that will hopefully last you well into 2013. 

To Sip: 

Holiday Gift Guide for Science Lovers!

Welcome to The Science & Entertainment Exchange's Holiday Gift Guide for Science Lovers! Click the diagonal arrows in the top right-hand corner of the guide to expand the window and enable the interactive features. Hopefully you can find something for every budding scientist in your life!

Scream Off the Thanksgiving Pounds!

A recent study from the University of Westminster found that watching scary movies may help people burn calories and in turn, lose weight. 

The study suggests that watching scary movies may cause the viewer’s pulse to quicken and the body to experience a surge of adrenaline; two factors that are often seen in intensely stressful situations. Both are known to increase the viewer’s metabolic rate and decrease appetite, which could ultimately lead to calories being burned at a faster rate. 

In an unrelated study, the American Council on Fitness found that the average American enjoys around 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving. That is 1,000 more calories than the suggested 2,000 calorie per day diet, not even considering the amount of fat we consume during that deliciously decadent meal! 

So, after all the turkey, gravy and stuffing have been enjoyed, it seems like the perfect time to take part in a scare-a-thon of epic proportions! 

The Moon en Plein Aire

One of the key conclusions in my book is that scientist/filmmaker collaborations work best when the scientists and entertainment professionals clearly respect each other’s expertise. This means that the scientists, in particular, need to keep in mind that they know very little about making movies. This same advice applies to scientifically literate audiences. We need to remember that just as scientists are scientific experts, filmmakers are entertainment experts who make decisions about science based on their specialist knowledge of the way film operates and what makes a film enjoyable.

Applying Science to the Study of File Sharing Leads to a Startling Conclusion

Sometimes something happens in the entertainment industry that becomes the subject of scientific inquiry. Social scientists occasionally seek answers to questions important either to the entertainment industry, society at large, or both.
Take, for example, research being done in the field of economics. At least a dozen economists at several North American universities have been studying the impact file sharing has had on the music industry, in particular, sales of prerecorded music. Everyone is pretty much in agreement that file sharing, made possible and easy by advancements in computer and communications technology, adversely affected recording industry revenue during the 1990s and early 2000s. But how big a problem has it been? At least one economist thinks he has the answer, and it is rather startling.

Podcasts for the Science Enthusiast

Modern society keeps yelling out “there are not enough hours in a day” and “we must increase our multi-tasking capabilities” so let’s consider discovering science via podcasts. An array of choices await, each presenting science uniquely. Here are a few to sample:  

Science Friday (SciFri)   

NAS, NAE, and IOM present 'Decisiontown' at USA Science and Engineering Festival

Decisiontown Logo

The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine are collaborating with the USA Science and Engineering Festival to present Decisiontown, a hands-on exhibit designed to show how citizens can use science, engineering, and medicine to make informed decisions in their daily lives. Decisiontown will be one of more than 3,000 exhibits at the festival, a free public event which takes place in Washington, D.C., on April 28 and 29.

Fantasy into Science, or Realizing the Impossible: Interstellar Travel

Some things are impossible because they violate fundamental laws of the universe, as far as we know. The theory of relativity says that neither matter nor information can travel faster than light. Matter because an object reaches infinite mass at the speed of light. (Though the recent measurement of neutrinos apparently traveling faster than light remains to be explained, most physicists suspect it reflects a subtle error, not an overthrow of the theory of relativity.) Information because that would reverse the order of cause and effect for some observers, effectively enabling time travel and violating everything we think we know about how nature operates. Other things are impossible, or at least extremely difficult, because of practical or engineering limitations rather than fundamental ones.

Cancer-Fighting Stem Cells

If you want to be immortal (in real life or in television and film), you need more than anti-aging cells – you need cells that fight common diseases. It is a fact echoed in In Time, a film where the characters never age past 25 years old. One of the characters mentions that only an accident could take his life – cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses do not exist in In Time’s (very youthful) world. But how could people be engineered not to age and resist cancer? Maybe the characters in the film are benefitting from some recent news at UCLA, where researchers engineered stem cells that find and attack melanoma.

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