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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

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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

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The Science of Submarine Warfare

Force Master Chief Russell Mason & Rear Admiral Fritz Roegge I took a World Cinema class my sophomore year of college. My teacher, who had spent several years studying in Germany, insisted on showing us Das Boot (1981). Before that,

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AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON Consultant Jeff Kahn

Avengers: Age of Ultron opened Friday and we recently got a chance to speak to Jeff Kahn, professor of bioethics and public policy at Johns Hopkins University, who worked on the film. Kahn provided some amazing insight into artificial intelligence,

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NASCAR Tour

I was recently invited along with other entertainment executives, writers, and producers to spend the day at the Auto Club Raceway the weekend of a NASCAR race. I did not know much about NASCAR before arriving, but the energy was

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Data, Digital Biology, and the 21st Century

On Wednesday, February 4, 2015, SoHo House hosted The Science & Entertainment Exchange for a tantalizing peek into the bleeding edge of Synthetic Biology: its relatively short past, its current state, and its future potential. The Exchange welcomed Andrew Hessel,

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Featured Entertainer: Ashley Miller

Middle school English teacher, television writer/producer, and screenwriter for Thor and X-Men First Class – Ashley Miller shares his thoughts on science, inspiration, and the creative process.  Tell us about your background. Where are you from, and what did you

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Scientist Spotlight: BLACKHAT Consultant Chris McKinley

Blackhat, the new film from director Michael Mann and starring Chris Hemsworth premieres Friday, January 16, 2015. The Science & Entertainment Exchange had a chance to chat with Chris McKinlay, computer scientist/hacking expert, who consulted on the film. McKinlay has

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Scientist Spotlight: Philip Plait

Astronomy-wizard, Philip Plait takes science to the extreme with his blog, Bad Astronomy. See where this “science geek” got his start, where he’s going and what he likes to watch on television in this edition of the Scientist Spotlight.  Tell

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Tribeca Film Festival: WarGames

It is all fun and games – until you accidentally start World War III. That is what Matthew Broderick’s character, David, discovers in the acclaimed 1983 film WarGames. Believing he hacked into a war-based computer game, David starts to play

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SCREENING: I ORIGINS

On a cool, mid-summer Los Angeles evening just after sunset, filmmakers and film lovers gathered in an intimate theater on the 20th Century Fox Studios lot for a night of wonder, beauty, and science. Organized by The Science & Entertainment

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SCIENCE SPEED DATING, LOS ANGELES

Last week, The Exchange brought its Science Speed Dating format to Los Angeles. The event kicked off with a YouTube video titled “The Fiction of the Science,” featuring Robert Wong from the Google Creative Lab. In the video, he argues

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Real Aliens with Seth Shostak

Usually, when a group of creative minds meets in Hollywood to discuss the lives of stars, they’re talking of the terrestrial sort – the ones who appear in films and adopt packs of children. Guests of the Science & Entertainment

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SCIENCE OF LOVE

Matters of the heart and the laws of science are odd bedfellows, but at the Science & Entertainment Exchange’s recent event, The Science of Love, Chris McKinlay shared his experiences finding love on the internet. But this is no average

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Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

“Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch…” We like to consider ourselves some of the best matchmakers in the science and entertainment game. Finding scientists to explore some of the most remote and

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To Mars and Beyond

‘Twas the evening of Mars, with experts discussing space exploratory clout, as Hollywood and science met, at the SoHo House. The Science & Entertainment Exchange met at the beautiful SoHo House in West Hollywood, for an affable evening of science

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Event Recap: Science Speed Dating

Just outside of our comfort zone is the space where magical things can happen, whether that be finding love, expanding professional horizons, or learning something new and exciting.  Science Speed Dating was an event that did just that – stretched

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Event Recap: Science of Psychopaths!

Phrases like “sense of entitlement” and “out of touch with reality” described every prominent person mentioned throughout the night. Words like “arrogance” and “narcissism” were used repeatedly. High atop the gorgeous SoHo House last Thursday evening, in a room filled

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It’s Not Science Fiction, It’s Science IN Fiction

Attention kids, any aspiring filmmakers out there?  If you think you’re the next Steven Spielberg or James Cameron, why not show off your talents for the world to see at the next Science and Engineering Festival, which is taking place

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Marvel's THOR: The Dark World Ultimate Mentor Adventure Takes STEM to Hollywood

Superheroes, a movie premier, science, and Natalie Portman – four things that make our teenage hearts swoon! And that’s exactly the reaction we were looking for when we teamed up with the brilliant minds at Marvel, UL (Underwriters Laboratories), Dolby

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Watch My Shorts

Installment 1: Accidental Painting, Flatland: the Movie, and Flatland 2: Sphereland People love science fiction and Hollywood loves the piles of money these films make. The record holder for worldwide box office proceeds among all films is James Cameron’s science fiction

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Deep Sea, Deeper Secrets with David Gallo

  Serene, mysterious, always intriguing, with just a touch of danger – on paper, the description of a beautiful woman and the great Pacific Ocean could be easily confused. Below the surface of some of the world’s most majestic waves, lies

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Body Hacking: Exploring The Quantified Self

“You have walked 3,343 steps today,” according to the FitBit Flex around your wrist. But why do you feel so sluggish? A quick peek at your daily data suggests that it could be due to your 10 periods of restlessness

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Plextronics – Is The Next Big Thing Flat?

What’s the next big thing in light?  Well, it just may be an array of products that will revolutionize the way we look at our phones and even how we watch television. The innovative new products will use an energy

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Stories From Google New York

A treasure hidden in plain view, the expansive Google New York building engulfs an entire square block of the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan. But, while the building is hard to miss, gaining access to what lies within those four concrete

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Scientist Spotlight: Terry Johnson

Gene therapy, biological warfare and cloning, oh my! The future has the possibility to be a wild and dangerous place. Thankfully Exchange consultant and bioengineering expert, Terry Johnson, is here to help walk you through the steps. See what he

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Opinion Exchange: The Best show You’re Probably Not Watching

If you watch nothing else on television – not that I recommend that you do that – you should be watching CBS Sunday Morning.  This long-running series – it’s been on the air nearly 35 years — even won an

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Science Rules on Big Brother 14

Can studying science help win a TV reality show competition?  Just ask Ian Terry.  We did.  Ian Terry spent last summer being watched by millions on TV; that was enough to put him on our list of notable scientists even

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How a Drawing Could Cure Cancer: Physics Diagrams as Modern Hieroglyphs

If you’re a fan of the TV series, The Big Bang Theory you’re probably used to laughing at Penny and Sheldon’s interactions, especially when Dr. Cooper tries to explain physics to his loveable blonde neighbor. One such instance is captured

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Scientist Spotlight: Doris Zallen

After developing new human genetic tests in the 1980s, Dr. Doris Zallen was moved by the host of ethical issues that arose in the field of genetics. These moral dilemmas spurred Dr. Zallen to take a leap of faith and

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Featured Entertainer: Jeff Bell

Jeff Bell has written and produced some of the best science fiction and fantasy television programs of our time. He also happens to be a great friend to us here at The Exchange! Read on to hear what Jeff loves

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To The Moon and Beyond, We Are The Explorers

What do you get when you mix NASA, Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime, historical footage, a group of passionate advocates and a crowdfunding campaign? Most likely, a really fantastic 30 second clip that will now be shown across

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Story Behind The Story: Argo

Unusual tales in Hollywood usually aren’t so unusual.  But this particular story caught our attention because it’s about science; it’s about entertainment; and, most of all, it’s unusual. The story begins with the highly successful movie Argo, the darling of

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Event Recap: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Science

Magic flying carpets, how to obliterate your enemy and the ability to see through walls; sound like something from your favorite science fiction movie? What if we told you that all of those things were technically possible?  According to Neil

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De-extinction: Bringing Back the Dodo?

Science fiction fans and movie-goers might be counting down the days until the 3D re-release of Jurrassic Park hits theaters on April 5th, but scientists and conservationists are now counting the ways that they could make the movie’s premise –

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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

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Featured Entertainer: Jessica Julius

As a Creative Executive at Disney Animation, Jessica Julius regularly works on commercial hits such as Wreck-It Ralph. See what it’s like to create feel-good favorites for a living, how to make it in the industry, and what it’s really

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Lincoln V. Lincoln

More than 148 years after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, he continues to make his mark on American society, with this year being no exception. Here at the Science & Entertainment Exchange, we have a particular affinity for good old Abe,

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Dive Into the Ocean and Learn the Secrets of the Brain

The Exchange played cruise director for a diverse group of entertainers who gathered together in La Jolla, California, to tour the Salk Institute of Biological Studies and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Among their ranks were producers, writers, directors, and

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Scientist Spotlight: Chris Bojrab

The Oscar-nominated film Silver Linings Playbook depicts the life of a man living with bipolar disorder. Clinical psychiatrist Chris Bojrab, specializes in psychopharmacology, the use of medications as one of the treatments of psychiatric conditions. See what he thinks about

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Valentine's Day Science Showdown: Gift Edition

February 14, 2013 – We’ve all been there, standing in front of a Valentine’s Day display at the shop on the corner, you can feel a cold sweat coming on. The barrage of pink and red is almost too much

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Featured Entertainer: Sean Sorensen

Have you ever heard of Sealand? Hollywood writer and producer Sean Sorensen sure has! Sean chats with us this week about what other great ideas he has up his sleeve and his advice for making it in Hollywood.  Tell us

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Imagine Science Film Festival: A Marriage of Science and Film

“The most unremarkable of events: Jerome Marrow, Navigator First class, is only days away from a year-long manned mission to Titan. Of course, selection for Jerome was virtually guaranteed at birth. He is blessed with all the physical and intellectual

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Scientist Spotlight: Steve Vance

Steve Vance is a skydiving, home beer brewing, planetary geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This week, he talks to us about his passions, hobbies and what it’s like to be at the helm of exploratory missions to Mars and

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Featured Entertainer: François Audouy

Production designer, François Audouy, started out as a digital hero in an analog world. See how he incorporates his diverse life experiences into his work and learn how seeing a miniature X-Wing Fighter at a young age helped shape his

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Hollywood: Through The Google Glass

Imagine taking the ultimate leap of faith, jumping out of an airplane with only a parachute to regulate your fall. Now, imagine that your descent could be captured on film, from your exact point of view.  We’ll let you in

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Scientist Spotlight: Jessica Cail

Jessica Cail is a high-flying scientist, literally! Splitting her time between the classroom, the circus tent and the big screen, Dr. Cail  wows audiences and students alike with her unique combination of science chops and stunt skills. Oh, and in

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Sips and Snacks for a Science-Filled New Year

New Years Eve is the perfect time to surround yourself with family and friends to celebrate the passing of another exciting year!  2012 has been a wonderful year here at The Exchange, filled with new consults, fantastic events and plenty

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Featured Entertainer: Gary Whitta

Hollywood writer, Gary Whitta, has worked on some of the most exciting sci-fi projects of 2012. See what he’s up to in 2013 and his advice for young, aspiring screenwriters.  As a member of the Hollywood creative community, you have

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Scientist Spotlight: Kevin Crowley

Radiation safety was of the utmost importance after the Fukushima accident in Japan. Radiation expert and Exchange consultant, Kevin Crowley, was asked by the band Linkin Park to see if the area was safe. Kevin chats with us about how

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Holiday Gift Guide for Science Lovers!

Welcome to The Science & Entertainment Exchange’s Holiday Gift Guide for Science Lovers! Click the diagonal arrows in the top right-hand corner of the guide to expand the window and enable the interactive features. Hopefully you can find something for

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Featured Entertainer: Ari B. Rubin

Marathon runner, policy wonk and Hollywood screenwriter, Ari B. Rubin, shares with us what makes writing in Hollywood different and how he always strives to take the unbeaten path.  Tell us about your background. How did you decide to become

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Scream Off the Thanksgiving Pounds!

A recent study from the University of Westminster found that watching scary movies may help people burn calories and in turn, lose weight.  The study suggests that watching scary movies may cause the viewer’s pulse to quicken and the body

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Scientist Spotlight: James Peaco III

Tell us about your background. How did you end up working with the FBI? What did you do previously?Prior to the FBI I served as an Infantry Officer in the US Marine Corps. I received my commission as an Officer

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When the far-fetched is no longer fantasy

Back to the Future Part II crashed into our lives almost 23 years ago, complete with hoverboards, facial recognition software, and a baseball team based in Miami.        With 2015 not far off on the proverbial horizon, we

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Featured Entertainer: Will Staples

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was the biggest entertainment launch in entertainment history. Writer Will Staples talks to us about what it was like to work on such a popular game and how he draws from real life military

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Scientist Spotlight: Steve Lichten

JPL scientist, Steve Lichten, talks to us about his childhood dream job, building a telescope from scratch and what would happen if we found life on Mars.  Tell us about your background. Were you interested in science as a kid?

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Scientist Spotlight: Laurie Kinney

Television reporter turned science wonk, Laurie Kinney, talks to us about Russian spy technology and The Exchange’s request to learn how to build WMDs with parts found in “interesting places.” Tell us about your background. How did you end up at

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The Moon en Plein Aire

One of the key conclusions in my book is that scientist/filmmaker collaborations work best when the scientists and entertainment professionals clearly respect each other’s expertise. This means that the scientists, in particular, need to keep in mind that they know

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Biodiversity and Hollywood: A Fashionable Intersection

What would your favorite science-fiction movie be without the costumes? Most likely it would not be your favorite movie. Fashion and costume choices set the stage for some of cinema’s most memorable moments. But what are movie sets made out

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Featured Entertainer: Kath Lingenfelter

Television writer and X-Files devote, Kath Lingenfelter, shares her insight on writing in Hollywood, growing up in New Hampshire and her early love of science.  Tell us about your background. What inspired you to become a producer and writer? I

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Applying Science to the Study of File Sharing Leads to a Startling Conclusion

Sometimes something happens in the entertainment industry that becomes the subject of scientific inquiry. Social scientists occasionally seek answers to questions important either to the entertainment industry, society at large, or both.Take, for example, research being done in the field

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Scientist Spotlight: Kevin Grazier

 A recovering JPL rocket scientist, writer / producer Kevin Grazier is also currently the science advisor on TNT’s Falling Skies, Syfy’s upcoming epic Defiance, and the summer blockbuster Gravity.  In his spare time, he volunteers as a science consultant for

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Event Recap: Medical Miracles: Cutting Edge Health Technology

From cell phone apps that measure blood sugar levels to desktop printers that spit out new body organs, technology has come a long way in its role in health care. On July 25, The Science and Entertainment Exchange hosted Medical

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Featured Entertainer: Samantha Corbin-Miller

Samantha Corbin-Miller’s stellar career in Hollywood include work on some of the most important shows of the last decade – ER, The Practice, Law & Order, and Lie to Me – among many others.   Corbin-Miller shares about her start, the most

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Scientist Spotlight: Russ Maheras

Russ Maheras may have the coolest job in the world.  As an Entertainment Liaison for the United States Air Force, he’s tasked with bringing together our nation’s best aviators with film and television production and development teams.  He leads base

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Representing Robots: Theater First, Film Later

When I made a list of the all-time ten best science fiction films for my book Hollywood Science (2010), I was surprised to find that three of them feature artificial creatures: machine-like robots in Metropolis (1927) and The Day the

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Featured Entertainer: Nikki Levy

Nikki Levy grew up in New York and Eddie Murphy was her idol.  Now a Vice President of Wedge Works World Wide at Fox, she also acts on the side as part of her show Don’t Tell My Mother! where writers

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Scientist Spotlight: Laura Rose Semo Scharfman

From adventure sports to reaching for the stars, Laura Rose Semo Scharfman, an avionics mechanical engineer at Space X, is always on the go.  Explore her early inspiration, science in the movies, and thoughts on women in engineering.  Tell us

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Recap: The Science of Science Fiction: Canon Fodder

Oh, Comic Con. The San Diego Comic Con is the largest pop–culture (scif, fantasy, and so on) convention in America, and one of the largest in the world; over 130,000 people attend. It’s actually a madhouse, with a packed exhibit

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Space Tourism

Orange streaks of flame obscure the view outside the spacecraft’s small circular window.  Smoke wafts from behind control panels. Loose equipment bounces around the cabin at the thud of Earth impact. These images, recorded by Richard Garriott from inside the

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Featured Entertainer: Justin Springer

Justin Springer may have grown up nowhere near the film industry, but now he’s one of the most talented young producers at Disney.  Working on Tron: Legacy, and on a variety of film projects, he’s found a way to smartly

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Featured Entertainer: Devin Andre

As the Director of Development at FilmEngine, Devin Andre oversees creation of screenplays from idea to a workable production draft.  He works with writers, producers, agents, studio executives, directors, financiers, among many others.  He began his entertainment career at Creative

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Robots! Aliens! Time travel! Superheroes! SCIENCE!

At the 2012 San Diego Comic Con we’re putting the Sci in SciFi with the return of the popular panel: The Science of Science Fiction: Canon Fodder Packed with the names behind some of the biggest science fiction hits in

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It must be true…I saw it in a movie

I can’t say I have a particular aptitude for science, or that I have had years of film experience, but I can proudly say that I was the catalyst for The Science & Entertainment Exchange, or rather my defective pancreas

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Scientist Spotlight: Jessica Brommelhoff

 “Science is magic that works.” From an early age, Jessica Brommelhoff, neuropsychology post-doctoral fellow at UCLA’s Semel Institute and Exchange consultant, was draw to science.  Explore her early inspiration, science in the movies, and alien hand syndrome.     What drew you

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“Anything Is Possible”….which might be the problem

There’s a saying that’s meant a lot to me for quite some time. It’s nothing new, it doesn’t change your life when you hear it and it’s not a wise observation on the complexity of life or an enlightening insight

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Scientist Spotlight: James Giordano

If you have been searching for new ways to manipulate the cognitive and decision-making abilities of an arch nemesis, look no further. James Giordano, Director of the Center for Neurotechnology Studies at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, shares about

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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

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Podcasts for the Science Enthusiast

Modern society keeps yelling out “there are not enough hours in a day” and “we must increase our multi-tasking capabilities” so let’s consider discovering science via podcasts. An array of choices await, each presenting science uniquely. Here are a few

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Featured Entertainer: Jon Spaihts

Since Jon Spaihts first appeared on the Hollywood scene in 2007 with the inclusion of his SciFi/Romance script Passengers on the highly coveted “Black List,” he’s had a meteoric rise to the very top of the industry.  Jon’s worked with

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Scientist Spotlight: David Saltzberg

For many years, UCLA Professor David Saltzberg has been a leading thinker in particle physics.  Since 2006, he’s also had a job title he may never have set out to put on his CV, but has proven hugely rewarding: science

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How I Stopped Worrying (about science accuracy) And Learned to Love The Story

When I was a kid – and who am I kidding; when I was an adult too – I made fun of the science in movies. “That’s so fakey!” I would cry out loud when a spaceship roared past, or

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Featured Entertainer: Jon Turteltaub

Fresh from the Air Force Entertainment Industry Tour, director / producer Jon Turteltaub sits down with The Exchange to share about science advising, working with The Exchange, and his current project. Why did you choose to work with The Exchange

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Scientist Spotlight: John Calkins

When CBS first aired The District in 2000, it was the first time a prime-time television series incorporated a geographic information system (GIS) as a key part of the story with a GIS/crime analyst (Lynne Thigpen). John Calkins, corporate technical

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Science and Entertainment Mash-up

Science and entertainment are mixing it up everywhere. They have been crossing paths in a variety of ways; some are not that unusual, but others seem out of the ordinary. Here are some recent examples of science and entertainment hanging

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Featured Entertainer: Jon Amiel

Dream huge. Dare more. From watching classic movies in his youth to directing his first movie in his late 30s, filmmaker Jon Amiel shares what inspires him and talks about science in the movies. Tell us about your background. What

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Featured Entertainer: Filip Sablik

Filip Sablik works in a place to which Hollywood turns (besides The Exchange) when it’s looking for great ideas – he’s a comic book writer/publisher.  As the Publisher at Top Cow Productions, he oversees some of the biggest non-Marvel/DC properties

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Scientist Spotlight: Aaron Blaisdell

Practitioners of science and fiction are both in the business of exploring the question “what if?” For a scientist the question is a hypothesis to be tested, for the fiction storyteller the question is explored in the medium of film

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NAS, NAE, and IOM present 'Decisiontown' at USA Science and Engineering Festival

The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine are collaborating with the USA Science and Engineering Festival to present Decisiontown, a hands-on exhibit designed to show how citizens can use science, engineering, and medicine to

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Event Recap: A Night of Total Destruction

Bringing about the apocalypse is easier than you think. On April 4, The Exchange hosted A Night of Total Destruction at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. The event brought together four leading experts and a packed audience

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Big Bugs, Big Problems

In the 1950s era of over-the-top science-fiction and horror films, the giant insect film invaded theaters with a bug-eyed, tentacled fury. Beginning with Them! in 1954, movies like Tarantula (1955), The Black Scorpion (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), The

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Scientist Spotlight: Randii Wessen

Normally, asking a person, “Why would aliens want to attack Earth?” would result in a bumbling, confused answer. But pose the same question to Randii Wessen, Deputy Manager of the Project Formulation Office at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and

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Scientist Spotlight: Alice Wessen

Come explore the universe with Alice Wessen, Manager, Solar System Missions Education and Public Outreach at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL)!  Learn about her inspirations, thoughts on science in entertainment, and bringing the JPL missions to life for students and the

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Under The Microscope: Covert Affairs

Kevin Crowley admits it is a struggle to express things in layman’s terms due to primarily working in scientific environments where shorthand technical terms are the norm, but he was more than happy to help the writers of USA Network’s

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Featured Entertainer: Maggie Malone

Did you ever wonder about the science behind your favorite animated movie?  Maggie Malone, director of development at Walt Disney Animation Studios, shares about her what inspired her to make movies, science consulting, and much more! Tell us about your

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Scientist Spotlight: Paul Weiss

Interested in science from an early age, Paul Weiss’ interest in chemistry started with a bang. His advice to the next generation is to find something that you enjoy so much that you cannot wait to get up in the

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Under the Microscope: Terra Nova

Sometimes science isn’t the solution. That’s the reality of science consulting and something Kevin Grazier, Planetary Scientist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory and one of The Exchange’s consultants, knows well. “Until a story starts shooting, and often times even after, the

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Five Things That Surprised Me Most About Being A Hollywood Boundary Spanner (Nee Science Adviser) Part 2

In Part 1, Kevin Grazier shared three of his top surprises about being a science adviser in Hollywood.  Let the conversation continue — Whenever I do a public talk/panel/convention, it is almost a certainty that I will be asked, “So

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Five Things that Surprised Me Most About Being a Hollywood Boundary Spanner (Nee Science Adviser)- Part 1

I found out moments ago that my boss on Eureka, Executive Producer and co-creator Jaime Paglia, delivered our final episode to the network within the past hour. Everybody involved with the show is disappointed, feeling the series ended a little

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Featured Entertainer: Max Borenstein

Max Borenstein’s meteoric rise through Hollywood began long before he graduated from school.  He’s wanted to be a screenwriter his entire life and very proactively pursued the craft when most of us were awkwardly trying to get through junior high. 

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Return

Liza Johnson’s Return introduces something new to the familiar story of military service members adjusting to life back home after deployment. Following a recognizable trajectory, the film opens with Kelli (Linda Cardinelli) returning to small-town Ohio following a year-long tour

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Scientist Spotlight: Janet English

Bringing science, entertainment, and education together, Janet English is a science and broadcast journalism teacher in Orange County California. A go-to resource for The Exchange, she has served as director of education services for KOCE-TV, and received a Presidential Award

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Featured Entertainer: Gabrielle Neimand

Gabrielle Neimand is a development executive and producer for Strike Entertainment, the production company that created Dawn of the Dead, Children of Men, The Last Exorcism, and In Time among many others.  We sat down with her recently and asked

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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

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Scientist Spotlight: John Spencer

Many people dream of exploring space, and John Spencer, space architect and Exchange consultant, is working to make that dream a reality. Tell us about your background. You are an architect, so what sparked your interest in science? How did

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Featured Entertainer: Chris Morgan

Since 2004, Chris Morgan has been one of the top action film writers in Hollywood. His credits include Cellular, Wanted, and The Fast and the Furious three thru five (number six is in the works!). He is, above all else, a

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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

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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

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Scientist Spotlight: Kevin Hand

From exploring the ocean depths with James Cameron, consulting on Thor, and fond memories of Cosmos, Kevin Hand, Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Lab’s deputy chief scientist for solar system exploration, takes us on a science adventure. Tell us about your background.

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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

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Featured Entertainer: Jaime Paglia

Eureka was the first show to be considered appointment viewing on the SyFy network for many cable subscribers. Like Mad Men for AMC, Eureka caused the industry to take notice of an entire channel for the first time, thanks to

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Scientist Spotlight: Michel Maharbiz

When most people think of cyborgs they think of edgy science-fiction/fantasy creatures, the stuff of futuristic action movies. Berkeley’s Michel Maharbiz has a different thought: “I can make one of those!” At his  lab, Professor Mahabiz successfully hacked a Nintendo

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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

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Featured Entertainer: Alex Tse

It’s hard to believe screenwriter Alex Tse once thought he didn’t “get” film theory. One half of the screenwriting duo behind 2009’s Watchmen, it’s easy to see that Tse “gets” it. We recently caught up with Tse to ask him

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Scientist Spotlight: David Kirby

David Kirby wrote the book on science consulting for TV and film – literally. The molecular biologist turned Senior Lecturer in Science Communication Studies at the University of Manchester became interested in science in film and TV during his time

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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

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Featured Entertainer: John Williams

Producer John Williams’ involvement with The Exchange started with fruit flies. Or rather, an Exchange event on brain abnormalities and the “cheap date” gene in fruit flies. Williams is an avid supporter of science in all forms of media, from

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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

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

Don’t miss our updates! Sign up to receive The Exchange’s newsletters by entering your e-mail address in the sign up form, located on the top right of the website!  The season of giving is upon us, and in the spirit

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Scientist Spotlight: Mika McKinnon

Mika McKinnon has two words for women considering science: Do it! The geophysicist and Exchange science consultant is enthusiastic about how much fun science is, and that more women should be getting involved. McKinnon previously consulted for the Stargate franchise

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Creative Science

Imagine you’ve been working on a problem for days, maybe even weeks, but you can’t seem to figure it out. Your brain is working over solutions constantly but you feel stumped. So, you take a break. You walk down the

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Holiday Gift Guide for Science-Lovers

It’s that time of year again, and if you’re scratching your head without a clue as to what to get that science-loving person on your list, have no fear! The Exchange has rounded up some gift ideas perfect for that

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Scientist Spotlight: Jennifer Greenhall

Jennifer Greenhall is no stranger to science. The neuroscientist and Exchange consultant is the daughter of a NASA engineer and spent her childhood surround by astronauts, scientists, and engineers who helped build her love of science. Her interest in neuroscience

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Memories: It’s All in Your Head

Forgetting is as simple as walking through a doorway – that is the finding of a new study that experimented with memories and ways to walk through a home. Researchers asked participants to complete a simple task (exchanging one object

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Fantasy into Science, or Realizing the Impossible: Tractor Beams

Short of destroying a whole world with planet-breaking weapons, the most action-filled moments in science fiction come when opposing spacecraft clash. As phasers fire and missiles launch, ships frantically maneuver, attack, or spectacularly explode. But sometimes the aim is to

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Scientist Spotlight: Sean M. Carroll

Sean M. Carroll has invented time travel. How do we know? The theoretical physicist somehow manages to teach at the California Institute of Technology, write for Discover Magazine’s Cosmic Variance, contribute his physics knowledge to TV (Fringe) and film (Thor,

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Light-Up Neurons Are Fireworks in Your Brain

File this under “science we’d love to see onscreen.” Researchers at Harvard University genetically altered neurons to light up as they fire. Imagine, for a minute, your brain covered in bursts of light, like a fireworks show under your skull. 

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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

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Featured Entertainer: Jane Espenson

For most kids, television is a welcome distraction from homework. But for screenwriter Jane Espenson, watching television as a kid turned out to be a crystal ball into her future. Her writing credits include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica,

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Gaming for Science Solutions

Gamers, we have a solution for anyone who nags you about the hours you spend glued to your computer or TV screen. Just tell them, “It’s for science!” Okay, maybe that tactic is far-fetched for World of Warcraft or Call

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Featured Entertainer: Sean Gesell

The Exchange is celebrating its third anniversary this month, and to commemorate the occasion (and more than 350 consults!), we will be featuring interviews with the people who made the program possible. This week, Sean Gesell (Vice President of Zucker

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Featured Entertainer: Janet Zucker

The Exchange is celebrating its third anniversary this month, and to commemorate the occasion (and more than 350 consults!), we will be featuring interviews with the people who made the program possible. This week, Janet Zucker (producer, and Advisory Board

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Scientist Spotlight: Ralph J. Cicerone

Is it ironic that the President of the National Academy of Sciences had very little interest in science as a child? We think so, but then again, the science bug bit Ralph J. Cicerone at the right time. The former

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Mister Terrific: Scientist Turned Superhero

A new superhero hit comic book stores this September – or at least, a new version of a superhero (with some science added to his backbone.) Meet Michael Holt, a billionaire, brilliant scientist and, oh yes, superhero Mister Terrific.  Mister

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Celebrating Three Years of Science and Entertainment Exchanges

This past weekend, The Exchange celebrated its three-year anniversary. On November 19, 2008, the program officially launched with a symposium bringing together the science and entertainment communities, and three years later, we are close to 400 consults! To celebrate we are

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Science Helps You Cook the Perfect Turkey

Let’s talk turkey, science lovers. We’ve already showed you how to incorporate science into Halloween but now it’s time to “science up” Thanksgiving. No, we are not suggesting something along the lines of Schrodinger’s Turkey. Instead, we’ve rounded up ideas

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Under the Microscope: Green Lantern

Whether it is a man dressing up as a bat to fight crime (Batman Begins), three mutants running a police department (Minority Report), or a man chosen to protect the universe using a ring (Green Lantern), the basic premises of

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Hugo Draws Inspiration from Some Old-School Engineering

Everyone knows Thanksgiving is all about the movies, and this year theaters are offering up three family-friendly films: The Muppets, Arthur Christmas, and Hugo. The Thanksgiving lineup is sure to bring laughs and stunning animation but it also offers moviegoers

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Muppet Labs: Where the Future Is Being Made Today

Brace yourselves, moviephiles, for the return of some major stars to the big screen next week. That’s right, it’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the Muppets on … The Muppets

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In Time and Immortality: Is It Only a Matter of Time?

Time is money, so the saying goes, but in Andrew Niccol’s latest film In Time, time is money. A bus ride home will cost you 2 hours, a cup of coffee is 4 minutes, and a car could cost you

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Star Wars, Star Trek, Scientists, and Science

We have heard it time and time again, scientists and engineers everywhere, professing deep love and admiration for science fiction, and in particular, a fondness for Star Wars and Star Trek. In an unofficial (and totally unscientific) polling of The

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Scientist Spotlight: Sidney Perkowitz

Physicist Sidney Perkowitz has a long, and impressive, résumé. The Charles Howard Candler Professor of Physics at Emory University is not only the published author of more than 100 scientific papers, he is also the author of four popular science

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

While the weather is turning cooler outside, business is hot at The Exchange! We completed our 350th consult in September, and we are quickly moving toward number 400. As art director François Audouy put it: “It was a wonderful resource

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Featured Entertainer: Jerry Zucker

The Exchange is celebrating its third anniversary this month, and to commemorate the occasion (and more than 350 consults!), we will be featuring interviews with the people who made the program possible. This week, Jerry Zucker (director, producer, and Advisory

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National Academy of Sciences Awards GameDesk $225,000 Grant

National Academy of Sciences Awards GameDesk $225,000 Grant to Develop Science Based Interactive Game for Classrooms As part of its Science & Entertainment Exchange, the National Academy of Sciences today announced that the GameDesk Institute will be awarded $225,000 to

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Halloween Costumes for the Science Obsessed

It’s Halloween! You have probably already donned a costume this past weekend, but if you are in need of a quick, witty costume for tonight (or next year – it is never too early to plan a Halloween costume), we

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Event Recap: Losing Control

What happens when a scientist becomes a filmmaker? In the case of Valerie Weiss, a filmmaker with a Ph.D. in Biophysics, she finds herself “losing control.” Weiss’s film Losing Control is a quirky romantic comedy about a female scientist who

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Featured Entertainer: Brian Nelson

Brian Nelson finds inspiration on the open road. The screenwriter drives at night to spark his imagination, and with the screenplays “Hard Candy” and “Devil” under his belt, you have to wonder what other ideas come to him during drives in

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Event Recap: Flatliners and The Science of Near-Death

Is there an afterlife? In the 1990 thriller Flatliners, five medical students attempt to find the answer through near-death experiences. Four of the students undergo a process of death (“flatlining”) and resuscitation. The film is a dark meditation on what

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Eight Facts You Didn't Know About Fear

The only thing you have to fear is fear itself … in which case you are suffering from phobophobia, the fear of fear. Okay, phobophobia is probably not what Franklin D. Roosevelt was referring to in his famous speech but

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Scientist Spotlight: Donna Nelson

There is an important message behind the story of how Donna Nelson, a professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma, became the science adviser for Breaking Bad: do not ever think your volunteering will not make a difference. After

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Look No Further Than Cable Television to Get Your Fix of Science & Entertainment

Back in May, the New York Times touted the number of new shows with out-of-this-world themes slated to be on the broadcast networks’ Fall schedules. The new Fall season has now arrived, and it is probably safe to conclude that

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Superheroes Are for Girls, Too!

Women and girls have a message for comic book writers everywhere: We like superheroes, too! Across the internet female bloggers are taking aim at DC Comics’ rebooted Catwoman and Starfire, two popular female superheroes. The controversy is over the superheroes’

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Featured Entertainer: Valerie Weiss

Today’s Featured Entertainer, director Valerie Weiss, could also be a Featured Scientist. Weiss’s passion for both science and filmmaking started in high school, eventually leading to a Ph.D. in Biophysics and an award-winning sci-fi short. Weiss also founded the Dudley

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Event Recap: Bioterrorism, Science & Security

In 1993, bioterrorists in Japan attempted an aerosol dissemination of B. anthrasis, the Anthrax pathogen. But Japanese authorities did not discover the attack until 1999. After neighbors reported a foul, gassy substance spewing from a nearby building, samples of the

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Laughing With Science

Comedy is a science. Or is it science is a comedy? It depends on who you ask, really. For Brian Malow or Tim Lee, the answer might be “both.” These two scientists-turned-comedians found their funny bones after their science educations

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Superhero Movies Are Getting Real

Recently, we stumbled on a clip from the 1966 film Batman known mostly for its use of shark repellant. Yes, shark repellant, as well as barracuda repellant, whale repellant, and manta ray repellant – all part of Batman’s Oceanic Repellant

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Featured Entertainers: Glen Whitman & Rob Chiappetta

To be clear, Glen Whitman and Rob Chiappetta, executive story editors on the hit Fox series Fringe want viewers to know not all of the science on Fringe is accurate. But it is as accurate and grounded in reality as

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Scientist Spotlight: Ricardo Gil da Costa

As part of the “rapid response” team for the hit TV show Fringe, neurobiologist Ricardo Gil da Costa is “on call” to answer questions for the science-curious Fringe writers. Not an easy task when you’re also researching neuroscience and biology

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Scientist Spotlight: May Berenbaum

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a … giant flying beetle? This summer’s blockbusters might be all about superheroes but let’s not forget one of the original hallmarks of science-fiction films: insects. Entomologist and Exchange consultant May Berenbaum knows

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Scientist Spotlight: James Kakalios

Sure, we all wish we had superpowers at one time or another, but do we have any clue how to make those superpowers work in the real world? Well have no fear, physicist James Kakalios is here! The University of

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Scientist Spotlight: Steven Schlozman

BRRRAAAAINS!!! Steven Schlozman, M.D. isn’t a zombie but he is hungry for brains – zombie brains! An Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Schlozman never dreamed his career would lead to exploring zombie physiology. As luck would have

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Dark Matters: Twisted But True Science Tales

It’s time for a pop quiz! Which of the following three science experiments failed? A. Genetically engineering goats to produce spider silk B. Embedding beetles with remote controls  C. Cross-breeding of humans and apes If you answered A, sorry, you’re

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Contagion: Going Viral

Refusing to eat the communal peanuts at airport bars, an extra bottle of hand sanitizer, the sudden usage of a word like “fomite” – spotting an individual who has recently watched the movie Contagion is as simple as recognizing the

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Scientist Spotlight: Stuart Sumida

Stuart Sumida’s career is one wild ride – literally. The paleontologist and animal anatomy consultant for animated films helped design a scary Yeti for the Expedition Everest attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. How did Sumida go from professor of paleontology

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Evolution of the 'The Big Bang Theory'

The Big Bang Theory finally received its first Emmy nomination for outstanding comedy series, one of five awards it is nominated for next month. Jim Parsons (Sheldon) did win an Emmy last year for outstanding lead actor in a comedy

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Under the Microscope: Apollo 18

Whether it is a fictional (but plausible) link between a disease and a symptom, downloading a human into a computer, or wormholes between universes, The Exchange’s consultants certainly have fun extrapolating science for fiction’s sake. But often our consultants are

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Featured Entertainer: Sarah Newman

Sarah Newman knows how lucky she is to spend her workdays talking to experts in pandemics, nuclear security, and other topics. As the Research Manager at Participant Media she works to develop companion campaigns to films with important topics, such

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Fantasy into Science, or Realizing the Impossible: Teleportation

During the years, we have watched Captains Kirk, Picard, and others in the Star Trek universe step onto a transporter platform, fade into shimmering motes of light, then instantaneously reappear on the surface of an unexplored planet. This is teleportation,

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Another Earth: Meeting the 'Other You'

Putting the science in science-fiction can be trickier than it seems, just ask Mike Cahill and Brit Marling, co-writers of the Sloan Prize-winning film Another Earth. The film follows Rhoda Williams, a young woman who killed a mother and child

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Scientist Spotlight: Gerry Griffin

Gerry Griffin is not only a pioneer in human space flight, he is also an actor. The former director of the NASA-Johnson Space Center in Houston starred in both Contact and Deep Impact as a mission control team member. Off-screen,

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Celebrate Science and Science-Fiction All Year Round

If you think the holidays are coming up soon, you may be surprised to know you missed months and months of holidays – science and science-fiction holidays, we mean. Scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and science-fiction fans appear to be party animals

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Breathe Easy: The Science of Artificial Lungs (and Other Organs)

According to the 1999 film Bicentennial Man, society is about 40 years away from fully-functioning artificial organs. But according to science, the timeline might be a little shorter. Bicentennial Man follows the journey of a robot intent on becoming human,

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Featured Entertainer: David Grae

David Grae did not intend to use science on the hit series Castle, but as the supervising producer and writer explains it, the science kept coming up. No stranger to seeking expert advice (Grae previously worked on Joan of Arcadia,

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Move Over, Wilbur. Guess Who’s Spinning Spider Silk?

In the well-loved children’s book, Charlotte’s Web, people are amazed by a web-spinning pig (well-worded webs, at that). It’s all a hoax though, as the pig (Wilbur) is in cahoots with a spider (Charlotte), but here in the real world,

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Getting the Glow

The 1990s are back – at least, on television. TeenNick announced earlier this year that it would begin airing a retro block of 90s Nickelodeon shows such as All That, Clarissa Explains It All, Rugrats, and Pete & Pete. If

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Scientist Spotlight: David Epstein

His day job may not be nearly as dramatic as it is portrayed on television and film, but as David Epstein, MD, explains, the non-fiction version of the medical field is still intriguing. Which is why Epstein brings his knowledge

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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

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You Lying Liar: Can You Beat a Polygraph Test?

A spike in blood pressure, a quickening in breathing, a rise in the electrical conductivity of skin…. These are the signs of a liar, at least, according to a polygraph test. But what if you were telling the truth?  In

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Featured Entertainers: Chuck Bryant & Josh Clark

Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark know a thing or two about how stuff works. As the hosts of the twice-weekly Stuff You Should Know podcast, Bryant and Clark research a myriad of topics ranging from wacky (Twinkies) to mind-blowing (asteroid

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Science Online Film Festival

Take apart a copier. Win a prize. Okay, that isn’t exactly how it works but that is how Bill Hammack, the “Engineer Guy,” won the first film festival at the Science Online conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Carin Bondar and

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Villain Science: Bane

In the DC Comics universe, he is known as the “The Man Who Broke the Bat,” and in the recently released teaser trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, Bane appears to be up to his old, violent tricks. The popular

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Scientist Spotlight: Seth Shostak

The Exchange’s science consultants never cease to amaze – and not just in their vast knowledge of science. Take Seth Shostak, for example. The Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute has been in love with astronomy since the age of

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In Reality and Fiction, Greed Is Good

It is one of the seven deadly sins but, as Gordon Gekko says, greed is good. Researchers in Switzerland recently found a moderate level of greed is favorable for society – or at least, the researchers’ model society. Common wisdom

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Featured Entertainer: Tom Johnson

Actors act. Directors direct. Producers…. If you have ever wondered what exactly it is that producers do, you are in luck! The Exchange recently chatted with Tom Johnson, Texas native and Head of Development for Flashpoint Entertainment, about the role

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The Bone Detective

If you are a fan of the television shows Bones, you are probably aware of the fascinating process of identifying people through skeletal remains – or, at least, the fictional process. Bones takes leaps and bounds with its technology, and

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The Final Frontier

Last Thursday, the space shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth and NASA’s Space Shuttle Program officially closed its doors. A sad day, for sure, but over here at The Exchange, we plan on passing the time between now and private spaceflights

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Why So Blue?

Have you ever wondered why so many characters in television and film are blue? Not blue as in sad, but blue as in color. From The Smurfs to Avatar, blue is the popular choice for an alternative skin color. As

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New Volcanoes to Worry About

Just when you thought you only had to worry about volcanoes under the West Antarctica ice sheets, scientists had to go and discover more volcanoes off Antarctica. The British Antarctica Survey (BAS) recently released its finding of undersea volcanoes near

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Under the Microscope: Fringe

How much science can you fit into an hour-long television show? When you talk to Glen Whitman and Rob Chiappetta, executive story editors on the hit Fox series Fringe, it almost seems like the answer is “an unlimited amount.” Science

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Featured Entertainer: John Nein

With a background in film and a secret enthusiasm for science, John Nein, a Senior Programmer at the Sundance Film Institute, seems to have found himself in the perfect line of work. Each year, Nein oversees the process for the

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Hungry, Hungry Universe

You’ve heard of zombie humans and you’ve probably heard of zombie ants… but what about zombie stars? “Zombie stars” are stars that explode like bombs, die and then come back to life by sucking matter out of another star. These

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Wormholes: The Superstars of Inter-Stellar Travel

You might not have noticed their stellar performances, but with feature roles in Thor and Green Lantern, wormholes are the biggest movie stars of the summer. Not to mention, without these theoretical shortcuts in space-time, neither film would have much

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Featured Entertainer: David Goyer

He may have been a “classic nerd” but now screenwriter David Goyer is the embodiment of cool. The brains behind ‘Blade’ and ‘Batman Begins’, Goyer somehow turned a childhood love of comic books into one of the most enviable careers in

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Science Sings the Blues

 When you hum to music from the radio, you probably aren’t thinking of mathematics. Equations aren’t forming in your mind and you aren’t solving for x as the tunes hit your ears. But according to Jason I. Brown, professor in

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Glaciers: The Newest (Fictional) Threat to Mankind

In the Arctic Circle, volcano eruption unleashes a glacier that will destroy mankind … at least, according to the trailer for 2012: Ice Age, a fun (and funny) B-movie featuring the destruction of New York City by a glacier –

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Featured Entertainer: Tom Schulman

As a philosophy major at Vanderbilt University, screenwriter Tom Schulman had no intention of working in the film industry. But then, one fateful semester, a professor assigned a film project instead of a term paper. What followed is a long

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In Science We Trust: The CSI Effect & Forensic Science

Can watching forensic-focused TV shows like CSI affect how you act as a juror? That is the question behind several studies on the so-called CSI Effect: jurors who watch CSI or other crime dramas are influenced by the shows’ exaggerated

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All About the Science

The internet is buzzing over the trailer for War Horse, Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film about a horse sold to the cavalry during World War I. Here at The Exchange, we’re excited Spielberg is (once again) filming a movie with science.

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How Supervillain Magneto Could Control Blood

It seems like just yesterday we were discussing the real world potential of supervillain Magneto’s powers. Now, we’ve spotted a new use for Magneto’s magnetic field control: thinning blood. Two researchers, Rongjia Tao and Ke Huang, recently released the results

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Featured Entertainer: Alex McDowell

Production designer Alex McDowell has one strict rule: Don’t repeat the same genre. His eclectic work history ranges from the graphic novel adaptation Watchmen, to the animated children’s film Bee Movie to the futuristic world of Minority Report, proving his

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Event Recap: Engineering Our Future

What do you think of when you hear the word “engineer?” Does it conjure up images of pocket protectors and slide rules? Does it evoke labs festooned with panels of blinking lights and spaghetti wiring over which are hunched socially

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The Catastrophic Potential of Severe Space Weather

Tornadoes, earthquakes, climate change, tsunamis and comets… For screenwriters who want to tackle the disaster film genre, the hardest part might be choosing how to destroy the Earth. Look at all the options! Plus, if you aren’t satisfied with the

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Under the Microscope: Tron: Legacy

I don’t know about any of you, but I was extremely excited about the release of TRON: Legacy. Partly because the light cycles are cool, but also for a personal reason: this was the first movie I helped consult on

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Under the Microscope: Thor

I know everyone is excited about this weekend’s premiere (at least here in the U.S.) of Thor, the latest superhero extravaganza from Marvel studios. At least I am, for my usual selfish reasons: I helped do some consulting (through The

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Under the Microscope: House, M.D.

Most people cannot remember what they had for lunch the other day, or what the weather was like two weeks ago, or any number of small details about their daily lives. But for the handful of people with hyperthymesia, or

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Fantasy into Science, or Realizing the Impossible: Invisibility

Fantasy fiction is about magic, science fiction is about … well, science. People who believe in one do not always buy into the other, yet the two can merge. As Arthur C. Clarke wrote, a sufficiently advanced technology cannot be

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Featured Entertainer: Jeff Silver

He’s the producer behind 300, Terminator: Salvation, Tron: Legacy, and more films than you can hardly imagine. But you might be surprised to learn Jeff Silver’s career in filmmaking started with a Bar Mitzvah gift from his aunt, a Super

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Featured Engineer: Malcolm MacIver

Philosophy, robotic fish, Cylons, and a theory on the emergence of consciousness – it’s impossible to be bored when you’re talking to Malcolm MacIver, bioengineer and Science & Entertainment Exchange (The Exchange) consultant. As an associate professor of biomedical engineering

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The Nose Knows: An Electronic Nose

Readers of this blog already know how fiction can inspire real science and we’ve got another example to show you today: the electronic nose. Ray Bradbury’s science fiction classic Fahrenheit 451 features the concept, as does the 1994 children’s film

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Villain Science: The Magnetizing Magneto

Something strange seems to be happening in Eastern Europe as of late. Something very, very strange. Something … magnetic. Recently circulated videos showcase the so-called magnetic children of Croatia and Serbia. One video shows 6-year-old Ivan Stoiljkovic’s bare chest covered in

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What You Need to Know to Survive a Zombie Disease

If you stay up late at night worrying about the impending zombie apocalypse, you will be happy to hear the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a blog post outlining exactly what you need to do to keep

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So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Maybe you have not noticed but there are quite a few talking animals in television and film. From a talking parrot (Paulie) to talking bees (Bee Movie), and beyond, there are conversational critters everywhere. What’s with humans’ fascination with talking

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Let the Games Begin!: Learning Science Through Gameplay

Imagine telling your child to “turn off that computer game and go finish your homework.” Then imagine your surprise as he replies, “But this is my homework.” You might think he’s trying to pull a fast one – a computer

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The Chemical Formula: Successfully Combining Chemistry, Science, and the Media

It’s hard to know what some 500 chemists were expecting when they filed into a ballroom for an event called Hollywood Chemistry this past March 27, at the big annual meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Anaheim, California.

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Science of Cyborgs

A beetle is flying through the air, wings buzzing as it moves forward, and then – suddenly – it falls to the ground. Then the wings start up again, the beetle is back in the air – then again, the

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The Kiss

Eyes meet as both characters move in. After an hour of longing, flirting, fighting, and reconciliation—of which you’ve spent the last 20 minutes on the edge of your seat—it happens…. That out-of-the-ballpark, incredibly satisfying, perfect first kiss. Fireworks ensue. It’s

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Summit on Science, Entertainment, and Education

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten,” Rudyard Kipling once observed. The same could be said for science. Biologist Sean B. Carroll from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute cited the power of storytelling

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Science at Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival has launched the careers of myriad household names in the film industry – Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Darren Arronofsky – to name a few. Established in 1978, the

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Learning with Laughter: Late Night Talk Shows & Science

Where do you get your daily dose of science? Online? Reading a magazine or newspaper? From a comedian? If that last suggestion sounded a bit off, trust us, it’s not. David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Craig Ferguson,

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Girls Just Want to Have Sums: Mathematically-Gifted Women in Television/Film

Girls just want to have sums. Or is it fun? Actually, why can’t it be both? Stereotypes plague math – difficult, boring – and girls who love math – they don’t exist. But several female television and film characters are

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Science of TRON

Twenty-eight years after the release of the originalTRON film, the sequel, TRON: Legacy, is stunning audiences with cutting-edge visual effects, heart-racing action and a mesmerizing story. But audiences are also being stunned by another element in the film: science. “Obviously

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The unlikely suspect: How geophysics revolutionized the recording industry

Chances are, when you think of Cher, the iconic recording artist, you also think of geophysics. Okay, maybe you don’t. But you should. Cher and geophysics revolutionized the recording industry – together. It started in 1998, when Cher released her

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Science of Iron Man 2

Superheroes aren’t the likeliest scientists, but according to Caltech physicist Mark Wise, Tony Stark’s science is accurate. During “The Science of Iron Man 2,” a panel presented by The Exchange and Caltech, Wise pointed to an extended scene from the

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Scientists Sharing Secrets Online

Maybe the success of The Big Bang Theory started a backlash. Because now there seems to be a campaign underway to sell the public on the notion that scientists don’t have to be geeks, nerds, or white men. The latest

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Tony Stark's Science

If you’re one of the millions of people who flocked to the cinema this weekend to see Iron Man 2, you’re no doubt wondering how much of the plot is based in fact, and how much is pure science fiction.

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The Technology Behind 'Minority Report'

Audiences flocked to to the futuristic thriller Minority Report when it debuted in 2002, impressed not just with thefilm noir mystery, but also the visually stunning futuristic world depicted onscreen. So naturally there was a packed house at the Hammer

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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

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Event Recap: Obselidia Screening with Film Director Diane Bell

The Science and Entertainment Exchange, along with Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences, sponsored a special advance screening of the film Obselidia in Washington, D.C., this past Tuesday (April 6th). The film was directed by Diane Bell and

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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

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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

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Small Town Science

The Science and Entertainment Exchange found itself in Berkeley last week for Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory’s first-ever Science Cafe. The event featured Jaime Paglia, co-creator and showrunner for SyFy’s hit TV series, Eureka, with a special Skype appearance by Colin Ferguson, who plays

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Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Back in the 1990s, it was all the rage to play a game dubbed “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” It all started when three college students in Pennsylvania were watching the actor’s performance in The Air Up There, and started competing

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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”

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"Rift" Sets Its Hero Adrift

Just when you thought the world was safe from universe-destroying black holes, comes a nifty short film from L Studio called Rift that explores just such a scenario. It’s described as “a surreal interpretation of Pandora’s Box about a scientist whose failed

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Prusiner's Prions

While everyone loves the romantic notion of the scientific revolutionary who bucks a doubting “establishment” to change our understanding of the world, every now and then, that narrative comes true. In the early 1970s, an otherwise healthy woman became a

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The (Shrimp) Eyes Have It

Wondering what the next Big Thing might be in terms of DVD/Blu-Ray technology? The secret might lie with the lowly mantis shrimp. Scientists at the University of Bristol have discovered that the creature’s eyes use a technology very similar to what is found in

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Holy Concussive Incident, Batman!

Batman takes a lot of blows to his head. These come from his fighting activities and from being routinely thrown—or leaping—onto or into hard objects like walls, floors, and moving vehicles. The issue of concussion in Batman’s career is something

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End of the World

Master of Disaster Roland Emmerich has another blockbuster on his hands with 2012, if weekend box office returns are any indication. The film’s premise derives from a popular doomsday prediction centered on the Mayan calendar. It lasts 5126, at which point the calendar

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Goats in the Machine

The new film, The Men Who Stare at Goats, is based on the book by Jon Ronson detailing a weird military research project involving psychic warriors, LSD, astral projection and the like. But while the movie might be fiction — and

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Creation, Darwin, and Movie Censorship

When I first moved to the United Kingdom I had a bit of a shock upon seeing a £10 note. Currency in the United States features revered presidents and revolutionary war heroes. Yet, staring back at me on another country’s

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Science of the Living Dead

This week The Science & Entertainment Exchange hosted a screening and panel discussion of George Romero’s latest zombie film, Survival of the Dead at The Director’s Guild of America. (See photo on right, from left to right) Author Max Brooks (World

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If There Were No Science Consultants…

Watching the latest episode of House last night, we were struck by the impressive use of medical terminology throughout. It reminded us of just how hard writers and their staff on such shows work to bring plausibility to their fictional world. Sure,

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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

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Warp Drive: We're Not There … Yet

One of the Star Trek franchise’s most enduring legacies in science fiction is the fictional “warp drive” technology that enables faster-than-light travel. It’s not the kind of thing that can be achieved with conventional rockets, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely outside

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My Favorite Cyborgs

Some of the most popular characters in science fiction are its artificial creatures: the robots like R2D2, the androids like Commander Data. I like them too, especially Data, but there’s another type of artificial creature I find more interesting. Or

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This Is Your Brain On Lies

What would the world be like if nobody could lie — not even a harmless little white lie? It would probably be like the world envisioned by British comic actor Ricky Gervais in The Invention of Lying, where brutal honesty is

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Eyes on Saturn

We nearly missed the lovely profile of astrophysicist Carolyn Porco that appeared last week in The New York Times. Porco trailblazed was part of the team that analyzed data from the Voyager spacecraft in the 1980s, making her one of the young up and coming

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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

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The Darling Bugs of May

Popular science books have been around at least since the Middle Ages, when illustrated “bestiaries” were a big hit, highlighting the most bizarre creatures found in Nature. Many such books mixed reality with myth, but entomologist May Berenbaum, who also

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Physicists Looking Forward to "Flash Forward"

Particle physics — especially the research being done at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider — seems to have captured Hollywood’s imagination these days. First, the collider was featured in director Ron Howard’s Angels and Demons. And on Thursday, sci-fi novelist Robert J.

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Darwin Takes Center Stage

Is there a scientist in history more misunderstood in modern times than Charles Darwin? His seminal work, The Origin of Species, revolutionized the biological sciences and led to a tension between science and religion that still exists today. The story is

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A One-Way Ticket to Mars

Now that the hype surrounding the 40th anniversary of the Moon landings has come and gone, we are faced with the grim reality that if we want to send humans back to the Moon the investment is likely to run

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"District 9" Takes a Lesson From Tesla

Director Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi film, District 9, is getting rave reviews for its gritty, hard-edged depiction of a futuristic world where stranded aliens are being evicted from one dismal slum and forced to move to another — when all they really

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Claw of Newt

One of the more compelling X-Men is Logan, a.k.a., Wolverine — so much a fan favorite that he merited his own “origins” story earlier this year with Wolverine. He’s the one who had adamantium grafted onto his entire exoskeleton as part

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For All Time

The film adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s bestselling novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, hits theaters this weekend. For those unfamiliar with the premise, it concerns a Chicago librarian named Harry (Eric Bana) who suffers from a rare genetic disorder that causes him

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Home Smart Home

Fans of SyFy’s Eureka are already familiar with the “character” of S.A.R.A.H. (Self Actuated Residential Automated Habitat), a literal “smart house” build inside an abandoned fallout shelter that serves as the residence of Sheriff Jack Carter. S.A.R.A.H. is an AI that can open

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Addicted to LOST's "Teaching Moments"

For years, I resisted watching the TV series LOST. My friends loved it, assuring me that once I started watching the show, I wouldn’t be able to stop. So it seemed a good idea not to start. But then the Science

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The Zombies Are Coming!

Zombies are all the rage these days, what with the bestselling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; the pending release of Zombieland;and news that Max Brook’s sci-fi classic, World War Z, is bound for the silver screen. But maybe it’s time to call a halt

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Comic-Con Video Posts!

The Science & Entertainment is proud to show you the full unedited video of our Comic-con panel. Just posted on Science Not Fiction. Watch brilliant minds of science and entertainment waxing poetic on all things SciFi. Jaime Paglia (co-Executive Producer of

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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

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The Double-Edged Sword

The Science & Entertainment Exchange co-hosted a panel discussion over the weekend in conjunction with Discover Magazine at San Diego Comic-Con. Bad Astronomer Phil Plait served as moderator for the event, which featured Jaime Paglia (Eureka showrunner), Kevin Grazier (JPL and technical consultant

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G-Force: The Unauthorized Biography

With G-Force entering the market this week, an underdog to supplant the mighty Harry Potter, we at The Exchange immediately thought, “There’s no science here.” Then, we realized that in the scientific community guinea pigs have a special history, a centuries-old relationship. It’s

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Professor Zombie

In the last decade, there has been a resurgence in mainstream Hollywood of zombie projects. Notably, Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later (as a franchise), Resident Evil (as a franchise), I Am Legend, Quarantine, Shaun of the Dead, as well as the upcoming films Zombieland, World War Z,

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Driving Rocket Ships and Talking with Our Minds

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing on July 19, 1969, and there has been a predictable flurry of reporting about the event. The New York Times asked me and a few others to recall our memories

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An Amaz!ng Weekend

Magician and escape artist James Randi (a.k.a., The Amazing Randi) has had a long illustrious career in entertainment, including a stint traveling with Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies tour in the 1970s. He has had an equally illustrious career promoting

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Prospecting Potter

When we tell you that there are teaching moments in every film that could get a conversation started about science, we really do mean every film. We can prove it too. We’re not afraid to put our money where our mouth is: Harry Potter and

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Inspiration in Ice

With Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs hitting theaters this weekend, we have a good example of a film that may play fast and loose with reality, but nonetheless serves to inspire kids to think about science.  Last we checked, no reputable

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Smashing the Stereotypes

There is a scene that takes place at a math tournament in the 2004 film Mean Girls wherein each team must pick the weakest member from the other team to compete in a tie-breaking “sudden death” round. The boys on

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Goodnight Moon

Last week saw the release of the science fiction/thriller, Moon, starring Sam Rockwell as an astronaut named Sam Bell, who is wrapping up a three-year stint at a mining base on the moon operated by the fictional Lunar Industries. His only

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Poetry in Motion

What do Happy Feet, Polar Express, the Lord of the Ringstrilogy, Beowulf, and The Strange Case of Benjamin Button have in common? They are all films that employ the latest advances in motion capture technology — or rather, what was cutting-edge in motion capture back

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Ripped From the Headlines! (Of Scientific Journals)

There’s one scientific question that rivals all others. Okay, it may be more a philosophical dilemma than a scientific one, but it has kept scientists and thinkers, the world round, busy for millennia. Apparently, it pits Stephen Hawking against Aristotle,

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The Science of the Hangover

Ah, the hangover. Most of us have had one of these at one time or another after sucking down one too many at a bar or party. But what is this miserable reminder of the dangers of excess and what might

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Where Have All The Good Bees Gone

In November of 2007, Jerry Seinfeld lent his multitude of talents to Bee Movie, in which he played a young bee, wanting more in his life than the dull drone of the hive. Striking out on his own, his spunky character had

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Going Up!

Pixar’s new movie, UP, raked in a healthy $68 million in ticket sales over the weekend, and seems poised to be another hit for the Oscar-winning animation studio. It’s the tale of an elderly curmudgeon named Carl Frederikson (voiced by Ed

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Follow the Evidence

The hit TV series C.S.I. coined the catchphrase “follow the evidence,” and its popularity helped significantly boost the number of young people keen on studying forensics as a career. But a report by the National Academy of Sciences released earlier this year concluded it

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Science Channel Goes to the Movies

There’s a lot of science that goes on behind the scenes of film and television, not just what appears on-screen. Earlier this year, the National Academy of Science’s Science and Entertainment Exchange assisted the producers of a new Discovery/Science Channel series called Science

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