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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

Science in TV/Film

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Preaching with Prometheus: Religious Responses to Alien Visitors in Science Fiction Films

One of the more intriguing, and controversial, thematic aspects of Ridley Scott’s new film Prometheus involves its overt discussions of science and faith. The character of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw is a scientist whose father was a Catholic missionary. She retains her religious faith even after she finds scientific evidence that an ancient alien species created humanity in its own image using genetic engineering. Rather than question the concept of a supernatural creator, she merely shifts her belief to the notion of an intergalactic God who created the creator species.

How I Stopped Worrying (about science accuracy) And Learned to Love The Story

When I was a kid – and who am I kidding; when I was an adult too – I made fun of the science in movies. “That’s so fakey!” I would cry out loud when a spaceship roared past, or a slimy alien stalked our heroes.

Eventually, my verbal exclamations evolved into written ones. Not long after creating my first website (back in the Dark Internet Ages of 1997) I decided it would be fun to critique the science of movies, and I dove in with both glee and fervor. No movie was safe, from Armageddon to Austin Powers.

I was right; it was fun. It was surprisingly easy to deconstruct Hollywood accuracy, or lack thereof. Any mistake was fair game; a flubbed line with bad math was just as likely for me to mock as a plot device upon which the entire movie rested. Blowing up a giant asteroid? Pshaw. Saying “million” instead of “billion”? Please. Shadows moving the wrong way at sunset? Let me sharpen my poison keyboard.

Science and Entertainment Mash-up

Science and entertainment are mixing it up everywhere. They have been crossing paths in a variety of ways; some are not that unusual, but others seem out of the ordinary. Here are some recent examples of science and entertainment hanging out together.

ON THE STAGE

Live theater seems to have embraced science in a big way. Has there been an uptick in science-themed plays? It would seem so. Science, technology, and mathematics have been the inspiration for a lot of drama on the stage in recent years. Plays such as Copenhagen and Proof have drawn large audiences and critical acclaim.

Event Recap: A Night of Total Destruction

Bringing about the apocalypse is easier than you think.

On April 4, The Exchange hosted A Night of Total Destruction at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. The event brought together four leading experts and a packed audience of filmmakers to discuss a variety of exciting (but very real) ways to trigger the end of our civilization. Of course, for filmmaking purposes only.

Jon Spaihts (writer of The Darkest Hour and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus) led an evening of lively, entertaining, yet thoroughly unnerving, discussions on topics ranging from neuro-weapons that can influence the human brain to the imminent danger we face with natural disasters.

Big Bugs, Big Problems

In the 1950s era of over-the-top science-fiction and horror films, the giant insect film invaded theaters with a bug-eyed, tentacled fury. Beginning with Them! in 1954, movies like Tarantula (1955), The Black Scorpion (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), The Monster That Challenged the World (1957), Deadly Mantis (1957), Earth v. The Spider (1958), and The Wasp Woman (1959) placed small-town Americans at the mercy of enormous creepy-crawlies that could only be vanquished with the use of military force.

Five Things That Surprised Me Most About Being A Hollywood Boundary Spanner (Nee Science Adviser) Part 2

In Part 1, Kevin Grazier shared three of his top surprises about being a science adviser in Hollywood.  Let the conversation continue --

Whenever I do a public talk/panel/convention, it is almost a certainty that I will be asked, “So how does your job work? You just get a script and tell them what they did wrong?” It is nearly always phrased that way, or quite similar, every time. It’s true that for episodes for which I was not included from the onset, I receive a copy of the script and a window of time in which I can submit notes to the writers and showrunners. But if all I did was point out what was wrong, what purpose would that serve? Let’s use a real example from the last season of Eureka.

Five Things that Surprised Me Most About Being a Hollywood Boundary Spanner (Nee Science Adviser)- Part 1

I found out moments ago that my boss on Eureka, Executive Producer and co-creator Jaime Paglia, delivered our final episode to the network within the past hour. Everybody involved with the show is disappointed, feeling the series ended a little early, but nevertheless it was a fantastic run of five seasons.

Return

Liza Johnson’s Return introduces something new to the familiar story of military service members adjusting to life back home after deployment.

Following a recognizable trajectory, the film opens with Kelli (Linda Cardinelli) returning to small-town Ohio following a year-long tour of duty in the Middle East as a National Guard Reservist. After a happy homecoming with family and friends, her once-normal life begins to unravel. She grows bored of the factory warehouse job that she held for 12 years before her deployment and abruptly quits: “This is a giant waste of time. I can’t do it anymore.” She struggles to reconnect with her husband Mike (Michael Shannon). Their marriage suffers and she begins to drink. Trouble with the law ensues.

Men in Black 3: Going Back in Time

Two familiar men in black suits are back in theaters on May 25, 2012, and this time, more than aliens are involved. In this released trailer for Men in Black 3, J discovers K has been dead for 40 years. With the help of a small device and a jump from the Empire State Building, J travels back in time to find some answers to K’s mysterious death.

Time travel is a popular storyline in television and film (Back to the Future, Lost, The Time Traveler’s Wife, to name a few). It is also a frequently requested subject for science consulting. But is it possible? Or even plausible? Well, we have some good news and we have some bad news.

The Madness of the Gods

I wish I had a sexy story to explain why I began to study romantic love. But my interest most likely stems from the fact that I am an identical twin. Long before I learned about the nature/nurture debate in college, I was busy examining how my sister and I were alike. This fascination then transformed into a life-long drive to understand human nature – all those traits we share as human beings. Among these predispositions is our penchant for romantic love. Indeed, I have come to believe that humanity has evolved three different brain systems for mating and reproduction: the sex drive, romantic love, and feelings of deep attachment. Sometimes these brain systems work in symphonic harmony to sweep us to the altar. Sometimes they work at cross purposes instead. You can lie in bed at night and swing from feelings of deep attachment for one person to feelings of intense romantic love for another. No wonder the ancient Greeks called romantic love the “madness of the gods.” 

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