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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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Intel Inspires Sci-fi Writers with “The Tomorrow Project”

Real science inspires science-fiction, and while we see this often in the consultations we provide, we have another great non-entertainment industry example for you. Last year, Intel Corporation’s The Tomorrow Project introduced four science-fiction writers to the latest research in photonics, robotics, telematics, dynamic physical rendering and intelligent sensors. Then, the writers let their imaginations run wild. The end results are four short science-fiction stories that imagine a future where this latest research is the old research. 

Film in 2011: Robots, Aliens, Heroes and Everything Else You Could Ever Want

In 2011, aliens will invade, robots will battle for the moon, and superheroes will save us. No, we aren’t predicting the end of the world. We’re talking movies! The silver screen in 2011 will be buzzing with science-fiction plots and comic book heroes.

Zap! Or, Where Would Science Fiction Be Without Lasers?

It’s hard to believe, but 2010 is the 50th anniversary of the laser. In 1960, Theodore Maiman, at the Hughes Research Labs in California, first applied a 40 year-old theoretical insight from Einstein to produce an intense beam of red light from a chunk of solid ruby. Einstein’s idea was used in the 1950s to make powerful microwaves with a device called a maser, for “microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” When Maiman similarly made visible light, his device became the laser, with “light” replacing “microwave.”

Will A Science Fiction Film Ever Win "Best Picture" On Oscar Night?

In 1968, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey started a trend that eventually brought science fiction films from low-budget “B-movie” ratings to the big-budget status we now take for granted. As presented by Hollywood (and on television), science fiction today reaches far beyond mere respectability to real cultural and marketplace power. Its characters, settings, jargon, and fictional science have become recognized parts of popular culture the world over. Science fiction wields enormous commercial clout, too. Although James Cameron’s Avatar stands out as the highest grossing film ever at $2.6 billion, it’s not alone. At last count, 19 of the 50 all time top-grossing films – nearly 40% – are science fiction in one form or another.

C is for 'Caprica'

Fans of Battlestar Galactica are avidly following the brand-new "prequel" series,Caprica, which explores the genesis of the Cylon race that is created by, and then rebels against, their human creators. The series' technical script consultant, Malcolm MacIver, is an ideal person to provide insights on a fictional world that grapples with the implications of human consciousness, virtual worlds, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

Aliens: Love Them, Hate Them, or Relate to Them?

What with black holes, dark energy, and so on, it’s a big strange universe out there. Science fiction films add more strangeness when they include weird and wonderful aliens. The closest we’ve come to real aliens so far is evidence of water that could support life, past or present, at a few sites in our solar system. But we have recently found lots of extrasolar planets and that helps fuel a long tradition of speculating about life in the universe.

Science Fiction Covers the Universe, And Also Our Own Little Globe

Ever notice how often the alien spaceship lands in Washington, DC, or New York City rather than Paris, Beijing, or Rio de Janeiro? Since the big science-fiction blockbusters are Hollywood products, it’s not surprising that these films are U.S.-centric and it’s also true that Washington and New York are major world cities. Even if the aliens want to reach Earthlings via the United Nations that too requires a stop-off in Manhattan.

But CNN headquarters might be a better choice, because there’s a whole big globe out there becoming increasingly interconnected by more than the UN International Telecommunication Union, Internet, and 24-hour news cycle. International trade and finance, terrorism, global warming, job outsourcing, immigration – all of these are linking people and nations more closely. Like any other cultural product, science fiction must reflect this reality sooner or later.

Updating Those Classic Science Fiction Films

Hi everybody. This is my first posting here, and I’m excited to write about science in film, a topic important for both scientists and film people. I’m a physicist who’s also a lifelong science fiction and movie fan. That helped when I wrote a book about science in film called Hollywood Science: Movies, Science, & the End of the World. In the process I watched a lot of films and that has given me plenty to write about. 

Science Fiction and Future Predictions

With Terminator Salvation - a film on which The Science & Entertainment Exchange did a consult - hitting theaters this weekend, it’s hard not to get excited about watching John Connor staving off the impending destruction of humanity in the fourth installment of the franchise. But, let's not completely take this action film at face-value. The latest Terminator movie releases in a very different era than did its predecessors. Starting in 2007, robots actually did start carrying guns in Iraq. More and more, we are outsourcing risky combat assignments to machines.