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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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Creative Science

Imagine you’ve been working on a problem for days, maybe even weeks, but you can’t seem to figure it out. Your brain is working over solutions constantly but you feel stumped. So, you take a break. You walk down the street to the nearest coffee shop but as you’re walking home, sipping your drink and watching cars drive by, the solution rushes into your brain. That’s it!

Memories: It’s All in Your Head

Memories are consolidated from short-term to long-term in the hippocampus.Forgetting is as simple as walking through a doorway – that is the finding of a new study that experimented with memories and ways to walk through a home. Researchers asked participants to complete a simple task (exchanging one object for another) in either the same room or by walking through a doorway to another room. The result: people asked to complete the task in the other room were two to three times more likely to forget what they were supposed to do.

Light-Up Neurons Are Fireworks in Your Brain

File this under “science we’d love to see onscreen.” Researchers at Harvard University genetically altered neurons to light up as they fire. Imagine, for a minute, your brain covered in bursts of light, like a fireworks show under your skull. 

The researchers altered brain cells with a virus containing a gene from a Dead Sea organism. The gene produces a protein that, when exposed to an electrical signal, fluoresces. The virus introduces the gene to the brain cells, which are cultured in a lab, causing the cells to produce the protein, which lights up as the neurons fire.

Annoyed? Blame Your Brain

Hey, wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world? Harry and Lloyd from Dumb & Dumber are clueless about almost everything around them – except a surprising expertise in how to be annoying. Lloyd’s “most annoying sound in the world” hits all the right, aggravating notes; it’s unpleasant, distracting, difficult to ignore, and you do not know when it will stop – it’s pure obnoxiousness. How could it not be annoying?

Science of Cyborgs

Michel Maharbiz answers an audience member's question during the Q&A session. A beetle is flying through the air, wings buzzing as it moves forward, and then – suddenly – it falls to the ground. Then the wings start up again, the beetle is back in the air – then again, the wings halt and the beetle lands on the floor. It’s almost as though it’s being controlled by a remote, flying and dropping out of the air as if someone were pushing the “Start” and “Stop” buttons over and over again.

This Is Your Brain On Lies

What would the world be like if nobody could lie -- not even a harmless little white lie? It would probably be like the world envisioned by British comic actor Ricky Gervais in The Invention of Lying, where brutal honesty is the order of the day, until Gervais' hapless character suddenly develops the ability to lie, or in his words, "I said something... thatwasn't!" We are treated to an image of neurons in his brain firing in new ways at that pivotal evolutionary moment.