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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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Robots, Aliens and Pilot Season, Oh My!

It’s pilot season, that time of the year when first episodes are filmed and TV network executives make crucial decisions as they place bets on which new series are likely to attract large audiences. Of course, the number of new shows that make it past the pilot stage is extremely small. Only a select few will receive a network order for additional episodes. Nevertheless, it’s fun to read about new ideas and see who’s been cast to play lovable, smarmy, smart, dumb -- or just plain evil – on the small screen.

Every year the Exchange takes a look at the Complete Guide to TV Pilots on a quest to discover which of these potential new shows may incorporate science (or maybe even math) in their story-telling.  

Preaching with Prometheus: Religious Responses to Alien Visitors in Science Fiction Films

One of the more intriguing, and controversial, thematic aspects of Ridley Scott’s new film Prometheus involves its overt discussions of science and faith. The character of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw is a scientist whose father was a Catholic missionary. She retains her religious faith even after she finds scientific evidence that an ancient alien species created humanity in its own image using genetic engineering. Rather than question the concept of a supernatural creator, she merely shifts her belief to the notion of an intergalactic God who created the creator species.

Scientific Movement: The Art of Science and Dance

It is time to put your dancing shoes on, get on the dance floor, and pretend to be a hydrogen atom. Or would you rather be a carbon atom? Those were the two choices at the 1939 American Chemical Society meeting in Baltimore where a group of Maryland chemists decided to stage a “chemical ballet.” The performance told the story of a scientist who tries to synthesize radioactive benzene from acetylene with the aid of an atom-smasher complete with four hydrogen atom dancers, two carbon atom dancers, and the dance of ethyl alcohol. You cannot deny the allure of dancing atoms, which is perhaps why science and dance tend to collaborate. 

"The Matter of Origins" performed by Dance Exchange.