One of the most pressing issues of our time is how and where we are going to get sustainable energy for a global population with a rapidly rising standard of living and the consumption that this entails. Approximately 10% of United States coal production [coal in general accounts for 40% of global electricity production] is procured through mountaintop removal, an environmentally-devastating extraction that literally involves blasting off (or removing) the top of a mountain to extract the coal inside. The practice gained popularity in the 1960s, when it started becoming too difficult and too costly to extract coal from underground mines. In our continuing “It’s Not Easy Being Green” series, ScriptPhD.com’s eco-blogger Captain Planet talks about the documentary Mountaintop Removal, exactly what it entails, and why this process is so much more costly than the immediate energy gained from it. Please click “continue reading” for more. Continue reading It’s Not Easy Being Green: Mountaintop Removal→
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.”
A Father’s Love and a Scientist’s Dedication in a Race against Time
Imagine this scenario: you are a young married professional, a rising star in a well-respected pharmaceutical company. You have three children, two of which suffer from a rare, inherited genetic disease for which there is no cure. They will die in about a year or two. What do you do? Inspired by the book The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million – and Bucked the Medical Establishment – In a Quest to Save His Children by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Geeta Anand, Extraordinary Measures is a drama about the real-life story of John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) and Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford) as they work feverishly to find a cure for the disease afflicting Crowley’s children. The dramatic caveat is that said cure is based solely on a scientific theory. CBS Films’ motion picture debut touches on a myriad of salient modern-day issues, including personal morality, risk taking, scientific funding, pharmaceutical business practices, the dedication to science, professional relationships, and a man’s love for his family. For the full ScriptPhD.com review, please click “continue reading”.
Picture this: a mysterious Man with No Name comes into a tiny desert town that’s dominated by a manipulative and powerful bossman. He has something the bossman wants and won’t give it up – and No Name is an almost supernaturally powerful fighter; you really don’t want to mess with him. Before the battle between Good and Evil is over, the Man with No Name has decimated the bossman’s thug-army and brought the evil leader low, the dusty little settlement is either burned to the ground or better off than before he arrived, and off he goes, continuing his mysterious journey – always in motion, never at peace. Except for a tie-‘em-up ending that’s tacked on to the back of The Book of Eli, that’s pretty much what you’ve got here: a post-apocalyptic tale of the mysterious hero vs. the bully prince, just like an old Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood spaghetti western. Just replace Eastwood with Denzel Washington, replace the Old West with the near future after a global catastrophe, cast a painfully over-the-top Gary Oldman as the Bad Boss, give newcomer Mila Kunis the inevitable pretty girl/spunky sidekick role, and you’re golden. Or at least should have been. Unfortunately for the viewing audience, there’s more Sergio Leone than Cormac McCarthy in this ponderous and unconvincing post-apocalyptic allegory. For a full review, please click “continue reading”.
One of my favorite movies as a kid, and now, as a professional scientist, is Andromeda Strain. The heroes are mostly older, professorial types who work feverishly to understand an alien organism and save the planet. After being asked to review ReAction! Chemistry in the Movies for ScriptPhD.com, I was so curious to consume (with relish) the book’s guesswork about the chemistry found in Andromeda Strain. After returning to the beginning of the book and giving it a read, I was thrilled to find that ReAction! is a detailed, thoughtful exploration of the representation of chemistry in film. The book addresses, first and foremost, the fact that chemistry can play a lead role in film. The authors also discuss the dichotomy between the dark and bright sides of chemistry (and science) as illustrated by films in which chemistry or chemists play a central role. Also included are several playful explorations of the real science behind some famous examples of fictional chemistry in film. After the break is a full review of the book along with an in-depth interview with authors Mark Griep and Majorie Mikasen on the process of working together as chemist and artist, portrayal of chemists in film and how film can change public perception in science.
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.
One of our most exciting continuing projects here at ScriptPhD.com is our “It’s Not Easy Being Green” series of articles, highlighting the environmental and green issues and technology solutions facing our time (see our recent Blog Action Day post). Dedicated to bringing you more in-depth and frequent green content, we are thrilled to add a new ScriptPhD contributor, CaptainPlanet, who will write exclusive movie reviews and issues for “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” He joins us with a review of The Cove, a recent documentary garnering Oscar buzz, about the secret dolphin-hunting industry in Japan and its environmental and emotional impact. If you hadn’t previously known about how majestic and advanced dolphins really are, and how deleterious the depletion of fish is across the oceanic biosphere, watch this film. ScriptPhD.com review, discussion, and ways to get involved, under the “continue reading” jump.
Remember back in high school, when youd skirt having to read the book by watching the movie instead, and your teacher would admonish you for not getting the most out of the experience? I never fully grasped what that meant until watching The Road, a new feature film adaptation of Cormac McCarthys Pulitzer Prize-winning survival epic. Though dedicated to realizing McCarthys scope of a ruined, uninhabitable planet and is a pleasant enough watch, the film ultimately cant translate the books introspective vision and humanistic totality. Sometimes, its better sticking with
the 1,000 words. Complete ScriptPhD.com review under the continue reading jump.
The Roland Emmerich Sci-Fi Terrestrial Destruction Tour continues. Not satisfied with immolating the White House by alien visitors in Independence Day or icing over Earth in post-global warming catastrophe in The Day After Tomorrow, the audacious director goes for cataclysmic broke with 2012, a bona fide disaster epic. Light on solid science, heavy on jaw-dropping special effects, the eradication of humanity and its habitation never felt so visually scintillating. ScriptPhD.com review and science discussion, under the “continue reading” jump. Continue reading REVIEW: 2012 (It's The End of the World As We Know It)→