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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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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.

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.

Just Imagine

For those who missed the 2009 Imagine Science Film Festival in New York, one of many highlights was the screening of documentary shorts: not the dry, didactic educational films typically shown in the classroom, but truly creative endeavors that showcase science in innovative ways.

Emily at the Edge of Chaos

Comedy and theoretical physics aren't two things you'd normally think would go well together, but for humorist/writer Emily Levine, it's like combining chocolate and peanut butter. After writing for such TV series as Designing Women and Dangerous Minds, Levine worked for two years at Disney.

That's where she first became interested in esoteric things like chaos theory and quantum mechanics, but according to her official bio, she "found no studio executives, let alone Mickey and Goofy, willing and/or able to discuss these issues."

When Galaxies Collide

In a fantastic example of entertainment lending its services to science, actress (Buffy, Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog) and Webseries creator (The Guild) Felicia Day stars in this new PSA from Spitzer Science Center, correcting some of the misconceptions about new findings on colliding galaxies from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

Sizzle Me This

What might happen to an idealistic marine biologist after he decides to leave the Ivory Tower? If you're Randy Olson, you become an independent filmmaker. First, you make a splash with a short music video about the sex life of barnacles. Then you take on intelligent design and the failure of the scientific community to make their counter-arguments about evolution convincingly to the public with a quirky documentary called Flock of Dodos.

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.

Bringing Hollywood Science to Class

As teachers settle into a new school year, it seems a good time to provide some general tips and suggestions on how to make use of popular movies or television in the science classroom. Some of these ideas may be more appropriate for the high school setting, but I hope elementary and middle school teachers will also find some useful suggestions. I will use examples from Monsters vs. Aliens, which comes out on DVD today, September 29, to illustrate each suggestion.

I Have Another Idea

Well, The Science & Entertainment Exchange has been up and running for almost a year now. And so far, The Exchange has done a remarkable job of connecting the great minds of science with the great minds of TV and film! Of course, that “great minds of TV and film” list isn’t exactly phonebook length. So having pretty much exhausted that pool, The Exchange has now begun pairing brilliant scientists with the “reasonably competent” minds of TV and film, and will soon move on to the “mildly unstable” minds of TV and film. Or so they’ve promised me.

Talking Incentives

So, it's simply not true that scientists lack communication skills in any absolute sense. Successful scientists, by and large, have excellent communication skills. The problem is that those skills have been developed for communication to a very specific audience: other scientists in the same field. The communication strategies that are most effective for scientists talking to other scientists are often not effective when communicating to the general public.

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