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.
But there’s still plenty more work to be done! Which annoys me because frankly, when I attack a problem I expect to solve it quickly, like we did with that whole health care brouhaha. So if The Exchange really wants to fulfill its mission and improve the way science and scientists are depicted in popular entertainment (obviously I mean “popular” from a sociological perspective – I’m certainly not implying that anybody enjoys it) then we must reassess. Reassess. That second one was for emphasis.
What if we’re approaching the whole thing backward? Putting the cart before the chicken or the egg? Actually, before is probably best because otherwise the cart runs over both of them. I mean, I guess the chicken could get away but more likely it sacrifices itself trying to save the egg … or it doesn’t, but then spends the rest of its life haunted by the cart incident and plotting revenge! See? Internal conflict. Which is exactly what I’m talking about. Here we are trying to package existing science to make it more entertaining for a mass audience, when instead we could be getting down to the root of the problem and actually transforming science itself to make it more exciting and fun.
Let’s face it, nobody’s going to pay money to watch Stanford biologist Irv Weissman conduct lineage analysis or clone stromal cells of the hematolymphoid microenvironments – not even if he’s played by Zac Efron, the obvious choice since they look so much alike (although Zac would have to be willing to grow a Talmudic style beard and gain a few pounds). I suppose you might get a few people to shell out for a romantic horror adventure about virologist Ann Simon’s work with the Turnip Crinkle Virus, since “The Turnip Crinkle Virus” is such a kickass title. But it probably wouldn’t win the weekend unless we make them zombie turnips that can only be killed by strippers … hang on, I have to write that down.
Just last year, Allen Bard and Yuli Tamir got the Wolf Prize in Chemistry for coming up with something called single molecule spectroscopy and imaging. I don’t know what the wolves gave them, money or a statuette or what, but I don’t see any reason why we can’t do the same and create entirely new branches of science, specifically designed for a mass audience with a short attention span. Here are just a few examples of what I’m talking about:
Adolescent Chaos Theory. What would happen if you never cleaned your room? Wouldn’t it be awesome to find out? My son is a pioneer in this field.
Megan Fox Genome Project. Eventually, we’ll be able to breed Megan Fox in a dish like sea monkeys. The only question is: who’s going to do it first? Us? Or the Russians? I predict almost unlimited government funding.
Quantum Detonation. The study of really massive explosions where things blow up into a million extremely tiny bits. I understand Michael Bay recently received a grant in this area.
Thermodynamic Behavioral Entomology. Combines several disciplines in order to determine what various bugs do when you fry them with a magnifying glass. Huge appeal in the preteen market. Great potential for merchandising tie-ins featuring adorable talking bugs that ignite.
Nocturnal Terrestrial Astronomy. Leading theorists believe high-powered telescopic equipment could be repurposed in order to observe the activities of hot chicks in their natural environment without unnecessarily disturbing them. Practical applications abound, like watching them shower to make sure they don’t slip. More than 170,000 people are injured in tubs and showers each year in the United States alone. We can all help. We must help.
Feline String Theory. Kittens love string. Everybody loves kittens. Do the math!
See? The possibilities are truly endless. Clearly, some of these emerging, new scientific fields have the potential to better all humanity by furthering our understanding of the mysteries of our universe, curing diseases, and mitigating the suffering of millions of people around the world. And at the same time we can fulfill the more important and immediate goal of creating great entertainment for a mass audience. So let’s all get to work!
- Hey, X-Change Files fans, let us know your favorite "new branch of science!"