Category Archives: Technology

Love is a Many-Splendored Algorithm

You spot someone across a crowded room. There is eye contact. Your heart beats a little faster, palms are sweaty, you’re light-headed, and your suddenly-squeamish stomach has dropped to your knees. You’re either suffering from an onset of food poisoning or you’re in love. But what does that mean, scientifically, to fall in love, to be in love, to stay in love? In our special Valentine’s Day post, Editor Jovana Grbić expounds on the neuronal and biophysical markers of love, how psychologists and mathematicians have harnessed (and sometimes manipulated) this information to foster 21st Century digital-style romance, and concludes with a personal reflection on what love really means in the face of all of this science. You might just be surprised. So, Cupid, draw back your sword… and click “continue reading” for more!
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Forever Young: Living in an Age of Agelessness

The chemical compound resveratrol, a component of red wine that has been linked to anti-aging properties in laboratory experiments.

During a recent trip to New York City, I had the pleasure of befriending exciting new author Ernesto Robles, whose debut novel The Malthusian Catastrophe is a ScriptPhD.com recommended pick. Smart, topical, fast-paced and decidedly engrossing, this biomedical thriller drives at the roots of our cultural obsession with the “fountain of youth” and the perilous socioeconomic repercussions of actually finding and disseminating it. In a year when the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology went to a team of researchers for their discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase, essential biological components of the human aging machinery, and a cultural era that has anointed juvenescence as sacrosanct, Malthusian’s overarching themes are especially germane. ScriptPhD.com’s discussion includes a review of the book, the biology and ethics of current aging research, and a one-on-one interview with Mr. Robles. For full content, please click “continue reading.”

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From the Annals of Psychology: Fear and Loathing in a Modern Age

“First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” These inspiring words, borrowed from scribes Henry David Thoreau and Michel de Montaigne, were spoken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at his first inauguration during the only era more perilous than the one we currently face. But FDR had it easy. All he had to face was 25% unemployment and 2 million homeless Americans. We have, among other things, climate change, carcinogens, leaky breast implants, the obesity epidemic, the West Nile virus, SARS, avian/swine flu, flesh-eating disease, pedophiles, predators, herpes, satanic cults, mad cow disease, crack cocaine, and let’s not forget that paragon of Malthusian-like fatalism—terror. In his brilliant book The Science of Fear, journalist Daniel Gardner delves into the psychology and physiology of fear and the incendiary factors that drive it, including media, advertising, government, business and our own evolutionary mold. For our final blog post of 2009, ScriptPhD.com extends the science into a personal reflection, a discussion of why, despite there never having been a better time to be alive, we are more afraid than ever, and how we can turn a more rational leaf in the year 2010.

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Behind Avatar: Science, Technology, Art and Design

Avatar ©2009 20th Century Fox. All rights reserved.
Avatar ©2009 20th Century Fox. All rights reserved.

This weekend, millions of people will flock to IMAX theaters and cinemas around the world, 3-D glasses eagerly perched, in anticipation of James Cameron’s masterpiece Avatar, a cinematic œuvre fifteen years in the making. Underscoring this two and a half our epic lie unparalleled technological, scientific and artistic achievements, including the invention of a novel 3-D film camera, the complete biological and linguistic realization of a virtual world, and flawlessly integrated art direction and conceptual renderings. Many people’s post-viewing reaction will be, “How did they do that?!” ScriptPhD.com is proud to present a special Avatar preview that includes behind-the-scenes secrets and a review of the must-own companion design book The Art of Avatar. Before you see the movie, get to know it.

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Why Science is the Ultimate Blue-Chip Investment

The famous French scientist Louis Pasteur once said, “There are no such things as applied sciences, only applications of science.” As a nation we are continuing to find ourselves in increasingly difficult economic times. Our state and federally elected leaders are constantly under pressure to make difficult appropriations decisions at all levels of their budgets. At the federal level, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), our nation’s primary investor of biomedical research funding, is no exception during this economy. A recent New York Times article, The Science of Spending Stimulus Money Wisely, questioned the value of funding basic research at the cost of immediate jobs and dividends. Indeed, a central question regarding the public financing of biomedical research emerges more routinely: How do we strike the right balance between the funding of basic research and the funding of applied research? What is the value of each to scientific development, the pursuit of knowledge, and most importantly, mankind? These question have been debated for generations, largely because there is no right answer. There is no exact formula, or panel of experts that will be able to determine the exact dollar amount which should be spent in each area, nor is there a correct percentage by which the money should be divided between the two areas. The following article postulates that continued funding and public understanding of basic research, the foundation for all applied research, is the smartest long-term investment of all.
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This is Your Brain on Music

The Human Instinct image ©2009 PBS, all rights reserved.
The Human Instinct image ©2009 PBS, all rights reserved.

Music. We all know what it sounds like when we hear it. It has the ability to create powerful emotions, or bring back memories from the distant past in our lives. We may use it when we exercise, study for exams, read, or for traveling form point A to point B. But what is music? Is it unique to human beings? How do we interpret music when we hear it? Are the emotions created by music universal, irrespective of the listener’s culture and country of origin? Can music teach us anything about how the human brain functions? These interesting questions and more are explored in the fascinating documentary The Music Instinct: Science and Song, a PBS production that was recently honored with the top prize at the prestigious annual Pariscience International Science Film Festival. ScriptPhD.com’s newest regular contributor NeuroScribe provides his review and discussion under the “continue reading” jump.
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Blog Action Day: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Trees

On December 7th, a consortium of world leaders and delegates will converge in Copenhagen for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in the hopes of drafting a global climate agreement that both supplants the Kyoto Protocol (set to expire in 2012) and more accurately reflects evolving realities of a changing world, such as China overtaking the U.S. as the biggest emitter of CO2. As the clock ticks towards this important opportunity for action, environmental issues are taking center stage in several important events, none more important than today: Blog Action Day 2009. Over 10,000 blogs from 151 countries have pledged to write about the same issue, climate change, to spark discussion and effect social change. As part of our continuing “It’s Not Easy Being Green” coverage of the science and technology behind the environmental revolution, ScriptPhD.com is proud to be a part the largest-ever web-based activist gathering. We bring you the story of a Brazilian delegation that used grassroots mobility to successfully bring to the forefront and strategize mitigating deforestation of the Amazon and the story of a renegade photographer who uses pictures to give a voice to our endangered planet. Click “continue reading” for more.
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INTERVIEW: Greenwriter.org

Logo ©2009 Greenwriter.org.  All rights reserved.
Logo ©2009 Greenwriter.org. All rights reserved.

Here at ScriptPhD.com, we are increasingly aware of science and technology that provides solutions to the stresses and threats facing our global environment. As part of a new series we are launching called “It’s Not Easy Being Green”, we are committed to bringing you coverage of the best “green initiatives”, especially those relating to the entertainment industry. With the help of the newest addition to the ScriptPhD.com family, talented European filmmaker Svetlana Dekic, ScriptPhD.com’s first video production is a filmed interview with environmentally-conscious company Greenwriter.org. Based in Hollywood, CA, Greenwriter.org is seeking to reinvent the way we buy and sell screenplays by establishing the first free online screenplay catalog service that directly connects writers worldwide with Hollywood production companies–all without having to print a single sheet of paper! Our interview, under the jump.
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Dragon*Con Coverage

Greetings from hot, humid, Atlanta! I’m thrilled to be able to provide Dragon*Con four-day coverage on behalf of ScriptPhD.com. Dragon*Con is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the United States. I will be bringing you my take on the panels and events, with tons of coverage of Battlestar Galactica‘s final year of significant presence and panels, but with also incorporating some of Dragon*Con’s science and skeptic panels and other exciting happenings as much as possible. As during ScriptPhD.com’s coverage from Comic-Con there will also be a daily Dragon*Con costume of the day. Full coverage under the “continue reading” jump.
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The Humanitarian Side of a Software Leader: Microsoft and Global Disaster Response

UN Undersecretary-Gen for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes chats with women in war-torn Akobo, Sudan. Photo courtesy AFP.
UN Undersecretary-Gen for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes chats with women in war-torn Akobo, Sudan. Photo courtesy AFP.

When was the last time that you tuned into CNN in the midst of a developing global crisis and heard about the power of software technology? The more likely scenario is a cavalcade of jarring images—displaced children wading knee-deep in floodwaters, distraught earthquake victims climbing through the rubble of utter destruction, panic embodied in a sea of facemasks—coupled with desperate pleas for food, water, medical supplies, donations, and on-the-ground manpower. But how is information assessed and distributed to the humanitarian relief agencies and governments that converge on often under developed disaster zones? And who enables the logistics of distributing supplies where needed in the middle of chaos? Rarely, if ever, is enough credit given to the technology, web and software support that coordinates these efforts and makes them possible. Microsoft has been using technology to help respond to and manage the effects of natural disasters through its local impacted offices for many years, but in 2007, Microsoft Corporation formally launched a centralized Microsoft® Disaster Response program expanding its breadth and depth in reach to provide sustaining global coverage. For our full profile and exclusive sit-down interview with Program Director Claire Bonilla, please click “continue reading”.
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