Men in Black 3: Going Back in Time

Two familiar men in black suits are back in theaters on May 25, 2012, and this time, more than aliens are involved. In this released trailer for Men in Black 3, J discovers K has been dead for 40 years. With the help of a small device and a jump from the Empire State Building, J travels back in time to find some answers to K’s mysterious death.

Time travel is a popular storyline in television and film (Back to the Future, Lost, The Time Traveler’s Wife, to name a few). It is also a frequently requested subject for science consulting. But is it possible? Or even plausible? Well, we have some good news and we have some bad news.

Fantasy into Science, or Realizing the Impossible: Interstellar Travel

Some things are impossible because they violate fundamental laws of the universe, as far as we know. The theory of relativity says that neither matter nor information can travel faster than light. Matter because an object reaches infinite mass at the speed of light. (Though the recent measurement of neutrinos apparently traveling faster than light remains to be explained, most physicists suspect it reflects a subtle error, not an overthrow of the theory of relativity.) Information because that would reverse the order of cause and effect for some observers, effectively enabling time travel and violating everything we think we know about how nature operates. Other things are impossible, or at least extremely difficult, because of practical or engineering limitations rather than fundamental ones.

The Madness of the Gods

I wish I had a sexy story to explain why I began to study romantic love. But my interest most likely stems from the fact that I am an identical twin. Long before I learned about the nature/nurture debate in college, I was busy examining how my sister and I were alike. This fascination then transformed into a life-long drive to understand human nature – all those traits we share as human beings. Among these predispositions is our penchant for romantic love. Indeed, I have come to believe that humanity has evolved three different brain systems for mating and reproduction: the sex drive, romantic love, and feelings of deep attachment. Sometimes these brain systems work in symphonic harmony to sweep us to the altar. Sometimes they work at cross purposes instead. You can lie in bed at night and swing from feelings of deep attachment for one person to feelings of intense romantic love for another. No wonder the ancient Greeks called romantic love the “madness of the gods.” 

Tour Recap: The Exchange Brings Entertainers to the FBI

“You have to talk to your kids.” Always solid advice for any parent, however when this “word to the wise” comes from a cyber crime investigator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who specializes in breaking up online child pornography rings, this simple statement can resonate in ways far greater than face value.

Surprising Sloan Split Decision at Sundance

Park City, Utah – Filmgoers perhaps unaccustomed to the mercury in the teens and, if you are a Los Angelino, to good quality public transit, made the annual trek to Wasatch County for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival from January 20th to 29th. Among the program highlights is the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Prize for a feature film that focuses on science or technology as a theme or depicts a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a major character. Past winners have included Sleep Dealer, House of Sand, Obselidia, and Another Earth.

Cancer-Fighting Stem Cells

If you want to be immortal (in real life or in television and film), you need more than anti-aging cells – you need cells that fight common diseases. It is a fact echoed in In Time, a film where the characters never age past 25 years old. One of the characters mentions that only an accident could take his life – cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses do not exist in In Time’s (very youthful) world. But how could people be engineered not to age and resist cancer? Maybe the characters in the film are benefitting from some recent news at UCLA, where researchers engineered stem cells that find and attack melanoma.

Science on Tap: Time Travel

“You think that the past is fixed and the future is up for grabs, but as far as the laws of physics are concerned they are equally real,” said Caltech’s Sean Carroll with a mischievous grin that seemed to suggest that he could actually see every brain in the room processing his words, accelerating to keep up.

On January 11, The Science & Entertainment Exchange held the second installment of its ongoing series Science on Tap at the Formosa Café in West Hollywood. The latest topic: From Eternity to Here: Time Travel for Beginners. Professor Sean Carroll wowed as the night’s one and only speaker in an interactive banter over beer on the nature of time, spaghettification (as a technical term), and why time travel is absolutely possible – in fact we do it every day … slowly forward.

Environmentalism for Kids: The Lorax Hits Theaters in March 2012

On March 3, 2012, Dr. Seuss’s famed book The Lorax will come to the big screen. The trailer, released a couple weeks ago, gives a glimpse into the expanded adaptation. The film version of The Lorax follows Ted, a young boy on a mission to find a living tree for the girl he likes. It is a journey that leads him to the Once-ler (and some trouble with Thneedville’s villainous owner). The trailer opens up Thneedville to show residents pumping plastic bushes and driving large one-wheeled SUVs, not to mention the barren treeless landscape outside the town’s walls.

Time Flies: The Psychology of Time

It’s almost time for another year to roll around, and with the New Year right around the corner, this is a great time to talk about time. Maybe 2011 went by in a flash for you or maybe it dragged on slowly – but have you ever stopped to wonder why time can feel as though it’s sped up or slowed down? 

The Exchange December Update: Look What We've Been Up To!

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The season of giving is upon us, and in the spirit of the holidays we would like to thank our volunteer consultants who give their knowledge and time to The Exchange. As screenwriter Samantha Corbin-Miller put it:

The Exchange has proven to be an invaluable resource for me as a writer. I am constantly blown away by their ability to find knowledgeable, engaging medical professionals who are willing to take time out from their life-saving work to help make my scripts more authentic and accurate.

- Samantha Corbin-Miller, Writer/Producer

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