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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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The Catastrophic Potential of Severe Space Weather

Tornadoes, earthquakes, climate change, tsunamis and comets… For screenwriters who want to tackle the disaster film genre, the hardest part might be choosing how to destroy the Earth. Look at all the options! Plus, if you aren’t satisfied with the standard disasters above, there are limitless options in epidemics, aliens, explosions and the newest disaster to entertain audiences, severe space weather

Fantasy into Science, or Realizing the Impossible: Invisibility

Fantasy fiction is about magic, science fiction is about … well, science. People who believe in one do not always buy into the other, yet the two can merge. As Arthur C. Clarke wrote, a sufficiently advanced technology cannot be distinguished from magic. Besides, some magical visions represent such deep human yearnings that we ardently wish they were real. 

These visions often appear in fantasy, myth, and legend, where they are “explained” simply as being magical. They might reappear in the newer genre of science fiction, justified by more or less credible scientific explanations. And sometimes, if we are lucky, there’s a third step where the idea moves out of fiction altogether and becomes real.

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.

The Kiss

Eyes meet as both characters move in. After an hour of longing, flirting, fighting, and reconciliation—of which you’ve spent the last 20 minutes on the edge of your seat—it happens…. That out-of-the-ballpark, incredibly satisfying, perfect first kiss. Fireworks ensue.

It’s the stuff of movie magic, the moment we’re always waiting for, and the climax of every great love story. Even when we know it’s coming, we still feel exhilarated watching two characters we care about finally lock lips. And fortunately, the feelings associated are not a cinematic special effect or the result of mood lighting set to a romantic score. When there’s real chemistry involved, the right kiss can be even more spectacular than the movies portray, thanks to a cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters that course through our brains and bodies as a result.

Science at Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival has launched the careers of myriad household names in the film industry – Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Darren Arronofsky – to name a few. Established in 1978, the festival, shepherded by film legend Robert Redford, has meant many things to those who have made the pilgrimage to Park City, Utah, for a glimpse at artful filmmaking at its most raw and energetic – a buying opportunity, a source of inspiration, a place to find your audience. It’s also become a training ground of sorts for artists to hone their craft.

Girls Just Want to Have Sums: Mathematically-Gifted Women in Television/Film

Girls just want to have sums. Or is it fun? Actually, why can’t it be both? Stereotypes plague math – difficult, boring - and girls who love math – they don’t exist. But several female television and film characters are defying both stereotypes.

Tony Stark's Science

If you're one of the millions of people who flocked to the cinema this weekend to see Iron Man 2, you're no doubt wondering how much of the plot is based in fact, and how much is pure science fiction.

The Technology Behind 'Minority Report'

Audiences flocked to to the futuristic thriller Minority Report when it debuted in 2002, impressed not just with thefilm noir mystery, but also the visually stunning futuristic world depicted onscreen. So naturally there was a packed house at the Hammer Museum on April 22 to hear a talk called "Beautiful Tools" by artist/scientist John Underkoffler of Oblong Industries -- part of a series of lectures sponsored by 5D on the future of immersive design. Underkoffler (who is an advisory board member of the Science & Entertainment Exchange) consulted on Minority Report, and drew on some of his own groundbreaking research at MIT while doing so. (He's also consulted on The Hulk, Aeon Flux, Stranger Than Fiction, and Iron Man.)

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