About a week and a half ago, scientists achieved a remarkable evolutionary stepping stone in the technological holy grail of eventually engineering synthetic life. Nicknamed ‘Synthia’ by her experimental progenitors, the latest discovery is a viable, self-propagating yeast cell hosting a bacterial Mycoplasma mycoides genome (consisting of non-biological DNA) purely composed in the laboratory. In eerily apt timing, Splice, a new science fiction thriller premiering this week, explores the scientific ramifications and bioethical morass encompassing the creation of a human-animal hybrid by a rogue superstar genetics couple. Under the “continue reading” cut, ScriptPhD.com’s review of Splice, discussion of the expanding frontiers of genetic engineering, and a special video interview with the director/writer, producer and stars of the film.
Dr. Mark Changizi, a cognitive science researcher, and professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is one of the most exciting rising stars of science writing and the neurobiology of popular culture phenomena. His latest book, The Vision Revolution, expounds on the evolution and nuances of the human eye—a meticulously designed, highly precise technological marvel that allows us to have superhuman powers. You heard me right; superhuman! X-ray vision, color telepathy, spirit reading, and even seeing into the future. Dr. Changizi spoke about these ideas, and how they might be applied to everything from sports stars with great hand-eye coordination to modern reading and typeface design with us in ScriptPhD.com’s inaugural audio podcast. He also provides an exclusive teaser for his next book with a guest post on the surprising mindset that makes for creative people. Read Dr. Changizi’s guest post and listen to the podcast under the “continue reading” cut.
Back in March, we reviewed the stirring documentary Tapped, which chronicles the harmful environmental and health impact of our bottled water addiction. Since our World Water Day 2010 coverage, the filmmakers have embarked on an ambitious “Get Off The Bottle” 30 city, 30 day bus tour, set to conclude on April 22, Earth Day. Tapped director and producer Stephanie Soechtig took time out from the tour to talk to ScriptPhD.com about the tour, their efforts to educate people about bottled water, how the film’s release has impacted her, her wishes for changes in the advertising and marketing of bottled water, and things we can all do to make that happen. Day 2 of our Earth Week coverage continues on the theme of how valuable water is to our environment. For our interview with Stephanie, please click “continue reading.”
Last year around this time, ScriptPhD.com posted Breaking Bad, Chemistry Good, an in-depth article about AMC’s breakout hit Breaking Bad, and its stunningly accurate science content. Walter White, the show’s anti-hero, is a cancer-stricken high school chemistry teacher who starts cooking and dealing methamphetamine for financial security. In our article, we highlighted several clever uses of chemistry throughout the show’s run that not only integrated brilliantly into the plot but had realistic real-world applications as well. What a difference a year makes! Last week, Editor Jovana Grbić sat down with Breaking Bad‘s delightful Creator and Executive Producer Vince Gilligan to talk about the show’s origins, the science, and some behind-the-scenes secrets that will surprise even dedicated fans. We hope you enjoy reading our interview as much as we enjoyed chatting with him. The secrets of Breaking Bad, under the “continued reading” cut.
ScriptPhD.com’s coverage of Comic-Con 2009 included an interesting panel entitled Mad Science: The Science Behind Science Fiction, which consisted of a panel of top science fiction shows Eureka, Battlestar Galactica, Eureka, Caprica and Fringe. There, we met Dr. Ricardo Gil da Costa, a neurobiologist who is one of the official science advisors to the writers of Fringe. We recently had the opportunity to visit Dr. Gil da Costa on location in his laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, CA. We sat down to talk about his science, what it’s like to be “on-call” for one of the biggest hit shows on television, how the writers use his knowledge and integrate it into the show, and more broadly, how creatives in the entertainment industry can best utilize the skills of research scientists as they integrate more sophisticated material into their scripts. Watch the full video below.
Continue reading Video: ScriptPhD Interviews the Science Advisor of ‘Fringe’
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, Malthusians overarching themes are especially germane. ScriptPhD.coms 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.
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
Charles Darwin’s postscript to perhaps the greatest work of biology ever recorded, The Origin of Species, ignited an acrimonious debate about science, religion, the mutual exclusivity thereof, and where we come from. 150 years later, as we celebrate the anniversary of Darwin’s monumental scientific achievement, it is a debate that has yet to abate. Regardless
of what stance one takes on evolution and natural selection, fascination with the life and times of this inimitable figure is undeniable. A new biopic, Creation, delves into the dichotomy of Darwin the naturalist and family man, the disapproval he faced from a devotedly Christian wife, and the inner anguish he faced in whether to publish his findings. ScriptPhD.com’s Stephen Compson was recently treated to a private screening of the film and had the extraordinary opportunity to sit down with Darwin’s great-great-grandson Randal Keynes, whose Charles Darwin biography the movie was based on. For our exclusive content, please click “continue reading.”
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.
Continue reading INTERVIEW: Greenwriter.org
Who watches the Watchmen? A whole lot of people! One of the spring’s biggest breakout hits was director Zack Snyder’s cinema adaptation of the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons classic 1989 graphic novel, Watchmen. ScriptPhD.com first caught up with one of the Watchmen screenwriters, rising star Alex Tse, during this summer’s Los Angeles Film Festival, and sat down with him recently to talk about the experience of working on the blockbuster. Before being contracted on the Watchmen project, Tse got his big break when his first script, Sucker Free City, was produced by Showtime Television and directed by Spike Lee. His current projects include a collection of sci-fi and comics screenplays, including the 1951 collection of science fiction short stories The Illustrated Man, the 2005 American thriller novel The Winter of Frankie Machine, the anime Ninja Scroll, and a film adaptation of the upcoming graphic novel Battling Boy by Paul Pope. Tse grew up in the San Francisco area before attending Emmerson College in Boston. Our full transcript under the “continue reading” jump.
Continue reading INTERVIEW: Alex Tse, screenwriter of “Watchmen”
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 imagesdisplaced children wading knee-deep in floodwaters, distraught earthquake victims climbing through the rubble of utter destruction, panic embodied in a sea of facemaskscoupled 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”.
Continue reading The Humanitarian Side of a Software Leader: Microsoft and Global Disaster Response