From its earliest inceptions, science fiction has blurred the line between reality and technological fantasy in a remarkably prescient manner. Many of the discoveries and gadgets that have integrated seamlessly into modern life were first preconceived theoretically. More recently, the technologies behind ultra-realistic visual and motion capture effects are simultaneously helping scientists as research tools on a granular level in real time. The dazzling visual effects within the time-jumping space film Interstellar included creating original code for a physics-based ultra-realistic depiction of what it would be like to orbit around and through a black hole. Astrophysics researchers soon utilized the film’s code to visualize black hole surfaces and their effects on nearby objects. Virtual reality, whose initial development was largely rooted in imbuing realism into the gaming and video industries, has advanced towards multi-purpose applications in film, technology and science. The Science Channel is augmenting traditional programming with a ‘virtual experience’ to simulate the challenges and scenarios of an astronaut’s journey into space; VR-equipped GoPro cameras are documenting remote research environments to foster scientific collaboration and share knowledge; it’s even being implemented in health care for improving training, diagnosis and treatment concepts. The ability to record high-definition film of landscapes and isolated areas with drones, which will have an enormous impact on cinematography, carries with it the simultaneous capacity to aid scientists and health workers with disaster relief, wildlife conservation and remote geomapping.
The evolution of entertainment industry technology is sophisticated, computationally powerful and increasingly cross-functional. A cohort of interdisciplinary researchers at Northwestern University is adapting computing and screen resolution developed at DreamWorks Animation Studios as a vehicle for data visualization, innovation and producing more rapid and efficient results. Their efforts, detailed below, and a collective trend towards integration of visual design in interpreting complex research, portends a collaborative future between science and entertainment. Continue reading How Animation Technology Is Helping Scientists Visualize Data→
You can always tell you’ve gone too far when you reach the wind farms. They populate the barren wastes of California’s northern interior, rows of them spinning atop camel-haired hills starved of moisture to slake the thirst of the Los Angeles glitterati. These motionless pinwheels are an ironic green afterthought to the ecological disaster that embraces the Interstate-5 freeway: now that we’ve created the dust bowl we may as well use the wind to power our air filters. There’s more than wind and dust out here. This is where they put the kinds of facilities the government doesn’t want people snooping around in. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is one of them—a secretive development center for our nation’s nuclear arsenal during the Cold War. Here in Livermore, the world’s finest physicists are on the verge of a breakthrough that could power entire cities on a bathtub full of water. The National Ignition Facility, also known as the world’s largest laser, is on the cusp of achieving the first break-even nuclear fusion reaction. NIF is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sagrada Familia. If successful, the four billion dollar facility will be the first ever to demonstrate Ignition: a fusion reaction that releases more energy than was put into it. The energy, national security, economic and environmental ramifications for the United States, if not the world, would be staggering. ScriptPhD.com’s Stephen Compson gained ultra-exclusive access to the normally reclusive facility, including tours, interviews, and a peek at the lasers that could hold the key to the United States’s global rebirth. With nuclear fusion on the brink of break-even, Stephen recounts we tour the world’s next scientific revolution. Continue reading From The Lab: A Future Barely Glimpsed→
There are certain films that outlive their theatrical releases to become evolutionary stepping stones of filmmaking. Long after the popcorn has been munched and the Oscars handed out, these movies stand the test of time and usher in the cinematic equivalents of geologic Eras. D.W. Griffiths The Birth of a Nation redefined the beauty of silent imagery. Alan Croslands The Jazz Singer integrated sound and heralded the rise of the talkie.” Orson Welless Citizen Kane became a hallmark of big-budget studio genius. And every sci-fi film of the last forty years owes debt to the standard set by Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey. And then there is Avatar. That this film, with fifteen years of creative development, four years of full-time work, and endless hype, was bound to be good seems like manifest destiny. But it doesnt just live up to its hypeit exceeds it. James Cameron has reinvented visual possibilities, perfected multi-layered storytelling and provided a service to audiences and filmmakers. He has transitioned us into the next big cinematic Era: 3D. Avatar is a ScriptPhD.com Editors Selection. For a full review, please click continue reading.
This weekend, millions of people will flock to IMAX theaters and cinemas around the world, 3-D glasses eagerly perched, in anticipation of James Camerons masterpiece Avatar, a cinematic uvre 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 peoples 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.
We are in the midst of a pandemic, folks. A pandemic of fear. A truly formidable novel strain of influenza (H1N1) is spreading worldwide, creating an above-average spike in seasonal illness, the genuine possibility of a global influenza pandemic, and an alarmed public bombarded with opposing facts and mixed messages. It’s understandable that all of this has left people confused, scared and unsure of how to proceed. ScriptPhD.com cuts through the fray to provide a compact, easy-to-understand discussion of the science behind influenza as well as invaluable public health resources for addressing additional questions and concerns. Our discussion includes the role of media and advertising in not only informing the public responsibly, but effecting behavioral change that can save lives. Our full article, under the “continue reading” jump. Continue reading The Flu, The Facts, The Media and You→
Its not often that world-renowned scientists crash in the heart of Hollywood to talk about Nobel Prize-winning physics research. But on a recent summer night, the ScriptPhD, along with a handful of lucky astronomy aficionados, was treated to a light show with a side of general relativity. At LAs famed Laserium CyberTheatre, Yale physicist Charles Baltay, also known as the man responsible for Plutos demise, captivated a delighted audience with about 10 billion years of physics, starting from the Big Bang to Plutos demise. Continuing the physics theme was a visually stunning array of laser pyrotechnics set to the thematically appropriate tune of Pink Floyds Dark Side of the Moon. For Dr. Baltays lecture, entitled Exploring the Dark Side of the Universe, and the psychedelic imagery of the worlds most advanced laser light show, please continue reading under the jump.