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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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You Lying Liar: Can You Beat a Polygraph Test?

A spike in blood pressure, a quickening in breathing, a rise in the electrical conductivity of skin…. These are the signs of a liar, at least, according to a polygraph test. But what if you were telling the truth? 

The Final Frontier

More than four decades have passed since a human first set foot on the Moon.Last Thursday, the space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth and NASA’s Space Shuttle Program officially closed its doors. A sad day, for sure, but over here at The Exchange, we plan on passing the time between now and private spaceflights by heading to the movies for some fictional space exploration. Except, well, we noticed there are not very many upcoming space exploration films. Is Hollywood finished exploring the “final frontier”?

Wormholes: The Superstars of Inter-Stellar Travel

You might not have noticed their stellar performances, but with feature roles in Thor and Green Lantern, wormholes are the biggest movie stars of the summer. Not to mention, without these theoretical shortcuts in space-time, neither film would have much of a plot. A wormhole (the characters call it an “Einstein-Rosen bridge”) in Thor allows the film’s characters to travel between the Nine Realms and in Green Lantern, Hal Jordan travels to Oa through a wormhole (though it’s not mentioned in the film). Without wormholes, neither superhero would have gotten very far – nor would the plot.

Glaciers: The Newest (Fictional) Threat to Mankind

In the Arctic Circle, volcano eruption unleashes a glacier that will destroy mankind … at least, according to the trailer for 2012: Ice Age, a fun (and funny) B-movie featuring the destruction of New York City by a glacier – a really, really fast 1,000 miles long glacier set off by a volcano in the Arctic Circle. 

It's one of those disaster movie plots too silly to ring true, but over here at The Exchange, we couldn't help but wonder, “What if?” Could a glacier ever move that fast or be that big? Is there a known glacier threat to New York City?

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

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.

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.