Scientific advising for science-fiction films is a really fascinating topic for me. It's a weird, weird world, where the goal is not necessarily extreme accuracy, but extreme believability. That can be a stress point for science, a field that is, generally, all about striving for accuracy. The scientists that help directors create believable worlds have to balance the goal of educating the public with the goal of entertaining same. That can be tough, and it leads some creative solutions—and little educational Easter Eggs buried in the background of blockbusters.
Take the work University of Minnesota physicist Jim Kakalios recently did for the new Spider-Man reboot. The film's creators asked him to invent a complicated-looking equation that, in the context of the story, would relate to cell regeneration and human mortality.
How do you invent a fictional equation? Start with a real one.
In this video, Kakalios explains where his imaginary equation came from, starting with the Gompertz Equation, a very real function that describes mortality rates and can be used to model tumor growth.
Researchers successfully revived ancient microbes, some more than 100 million years old, that were buried in the seafloor. During an expedition to the South Pacific Gyre, the scientists from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and their colleagues drilled into the ocean sediment almost 6,000 meters below the surface. “Our main question […]
My family stopped wiping down all our groceries to “disinfect” them a couple months ago, mostly because of hygiene exhaustion. Then in May, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention clarified its own Web page about how COVID-19 spreads to state that “based on data from lab studies on COVID-19 and what we know about […]
“The way to have power is to take it.” — Boss Tweed. We think an 18th-century political power broker probably had a different definition of power in mind when he made that statement, yet the sentiment still applies. We’ve all got devices all but falling out of our pockets and the need for power to […]
If the last 50 years of education have taught us nothing else, it’s that it often requires different tactics to best reach different learners. To pick up a foreign language, some students take best to the old-school high school language lab method, using heavy repetition, verb conjugation and grammar emphasis to embed a new language. […]
For those who want a career in video games, there’s no reason to sit around and wait. EA and Rockstar Games probably aren’t going to seek you out and knock on your door with a job opportunity. But if you’re an indie developer with a good idea and some passion, you can create a really […]