Blog Category

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

Subscribe to Science in TV/Film

Zap! Or, Where Would Science Fiction Be Without Lasers?

It’s hard to believe, but 2010 is the 50th anniversary of the laser. In 1960, Theodore Maiman, at the Hughes Research Labs in California, first applied a 40 year-old theoretical insight from Einstein to produce an intense beam of red light from a chunk of solid ruby. Einstein’s idea was used in the 1950s to make powerful microwaves with a device called a maser, for “microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” When Maiman similarly made visible light, his device became the laser, with “light” replacing “microwave.”

C is for 'Caprica'

Fans of Battlestar Galactica are avidly following the brand-new "prequel" series,Caprica, which explores the genesis of the Cylon race that is created by, and then rebels against, their human creators. The series' technical script consultant, Malcolm MacIver, is an ideal person to provide insights on a fictional world that grapples with the implications of human consciousness, virtual worlds, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

Small Town Science

The Science and Entertainment Exchange found itself in Berkeley last week for Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's first-ever Science Cafe. The event featured Jaime Paglia, co-creator and showrunner for SyFy's hit TV series, Eureka, with a special Skype appearance by Colin Ferguson, who plays Sheriff Jack Carter on the show.

Creating a Conversation Through 'Creation"

A brand new film, Creation, opens in theaters this Friday, January 22nd, in major cities across the country (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington DC) and will certainly stir pundits on both sides of the creation "debate" in the US. The film, starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connolly, follows the story of Charles Darwin and is based on the book by Randal Keynes, Darwin’s great-great-grandson.

"Rift" Sets Its Hero Adrift

Just when you thought the world was safe from universe-destroying black holes, comes a nifty short film from L Studio called Rift that explores just such a scenario. It's described as "a surreal interpretation of Pandora's Box about a scientist whose failed experiment results in the formation of a black hole that alters time and space, creating a chaotic Twilight-Zonesque nightmare."

Holy Concussive Incident, Batman!

Batman takes a lot of blows to his head. These come from his fighting activities and from being routinely thrown—or leaping—onto or into hard objects like walls, floors, and moving vehicles. The issue of concussion in Batman’s career is something I addressed in Becoming Batman. In examining the scientific possibility of a human training to achieve the pinnacle of physical skill of comic book icon Batman, I reckoned him having a pretty short career. The main thing to shorten Batman’s career would be his accumulation of injuries, with concussion figuring prominently. In our own day and age concussion in sports—and particularly in hockey and football—has received considerable attention but little resolution.

End of the World

Master of Disaster Roland Emmerich has another blockbuster on his hands with 2012, if weekend box office returns are any indication. The film's premise derives from a popular doomsday prediction centered on the Mayan calendar. It lasts 5126, at which point the calendar abruptly stops at December 21, 2012. For whatever reason, the Mayans didn't bother to count any further, leading some folks to conclude this denotes the End of the World As We Know. It makes for great entertainment, but what's the science behind all this?

Goats in the Machine

The new film, The Men Who Stare at Goats, is based on the book by Jon Ronson detailing a weird military research project involving psychic warriors, LSD, astral projection and the like. But while the movie might be fiction -- and highly amusing fiction at that, thanks to stellar performances by the cast -- there really is a historical record of both the Army and the CIA experimenting with LSD and other hallucinogens as possible "incapacitating chemical agents."

Creation, Darwin, and Movie Censorship

When I first moved to the United Kingdom I had a bit of a shock upon seeing a £10 note. Currency in the United States features revered presidents and revolutionary war heroes. Yet, staring back at me on another country’s official currency was a man reviled by a large section of the American public: Charles Darwin.

If There Were No Science Consultants...

Watching the latest episode of House last night, we were struck by the impressive use of medical terminology throughout. It reminded us of just how hard writers and their staff on such shows work to bring plausibility to their fictional world. Sure, people love to joke about the constant parade of obscure, rare diseases encountered by House and his cohorts, and how the disease of the week never seems to be lupus, but the writers have certainly done their homework.

If you're wondering what House, Grey's Anatomy, Mercy, orTrauma would be like without that army of staffers and science consultants, check out this hilarious sketch by British comedy duo Mitchell and Webb:

Pages