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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

James Kakalios

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Why So Blue?

Have you ever wondered why so many characters in television and film are blue? Not blue as in sad, but blue as in color. From The Smurfs to Avatar, blue is the popular choice for an alternative skin color. As it turns out, there is a way for human skin to turn blue!

A condition caused by high exposure to chemical forms of silver, known an argyria, can change the color of skin from a normal color to a blue or bluish-grey color! If you inhale or ingest enough silver, the element accumulates in the body over time. When exposed to sunlight, the particles under the skin darken, which turns the skin a bluish hue. Argyria is not life-threatening, but still, you probably do not want to ingest that much silver. A man in California gradually turned blue after drinking gallons of colloidal silver per week for years – that’s commitment. 

Even Superheroes Need Their Science

This past weekend, the Science and Entertainment Exchange headed to San Diego for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Our session was a panel discussion entitled "Watching the Watchmen and Cheering the Heroes: The Science of Superheroes," bringing together two physicists, a biologist, a film screenwriter, and two TV writers.

I Would Like to Thank the Academy - Squared!

It began, as do many tales of travel, adventure, and triumph, with a librarian.

In June 2007, I was in Denver for the national meeting of the Special Librarians Association, to give a talk on my efforts using superhero comic books to teach physics. There I met a librarian from the National Academy of Sciences. Upon returning to DC, she passed my name along to Ann Merchant, who was in the early stages of setting up The Science & Entertainment Exchange program.