Of all the garbage we collected in the extreme north, the most unexpected pieces were children's toys. I wanted to imagine the high Arctic as pristine, with endless white vistas. Yet on beautiful forlorn shores of Svalbard, Norway's Arctic archipelago, we spotted our remnants - a mustard bottle, a cigarette lighter, a slipper, an asthma puffer, and plastics galore. In Svalbard's most remote lands you see more polar bear paw prints than human footprints - but you also see our human synthetic waste.
It can be difficult to know how much truth there is to the science news we encounter in the media. Next time you read a piece of science news, follow along with our checklist! The more you can check off as you read, the more likely it is that you've found quality science journalism.
In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office reported that over 1,000 American soldiers required an amputation, due in large part to improvised explosive devices. Some lost legs; gone are the feelings of an ocean washing over their feet. Others, an ear, binding them to auditory imperfection and forever altering their mirrored reflection. But must these losses last forever? The integration of stem cell science with new tissue fabrication techniques is tantalizingly close to achieving a feat seemingly pulled from the pages of science fiction. Can we regrow those soldiers’ limbs and ears?
Media is an important tool for communicating science. Popular media (film, television, etc.) plays a central role, providing not only a framework for our understanding of scientific concepts, but also a sociocultural context in which science and scientists are portrayed. Working side-by-side with talented writers, scientists have become increasingly involved in this process by serving as scientific consultants. Take, for example, the critically-acclaimed scientific drama Manhattan, which recently ran two seasons on WGN America. More than a fictional retelling about a famous scientific event, Manhattan is a story about the lives of the scientists responsible for building the world's first nuclear weapon in Los Alamos, New Mexico during WWII. We recently sat down with Sam Shaw (creator/executive producer/writer of Manhattan) and Dr. David Saltzberg (particle physicist at UCLA and science consultant for Manhattan and The Big Bang Theory) to learn more about what it's like to produce a television show which portrays both science and scientists.
Science fiction is just that: fiction. The question of how much actual science is needed to support a great science fiction story is a subjective one. This is a challenging task for any writer, especially those responsible for bringing to life some of our favorite science fiction stories, including the time travel classic 12 Monkeys and its latest incarnation, the TV show 12 Monkeys currently airing on the SyFy channel. At its heart, 12 Monkeys is a story about predestination versus free will. It challenges us to think about space, time, and the natural laws which serve as the framework upon which our entire universe is built.
On July 4th, at 10:30 pm (EST), the spacecraft Juno will arrive at Jupiter after a five year and nearly two billion mile journey. It will circle the planet 37 times, collecting a variety of data, before falling into the atmosphere and destroying itself. Funded by NASA, built by Lockheed Martin in Denver, and operated by JPL in Pasadena, the Juno spacecraft will observe Jupiter like never before, flying closer and orbiting longer than any orbiter in NASA history.
A mysterious cult-like group releases a devastating super virus. The resulting plague decimates the population, ending the world as we know it. It’s a story you’ve heard before and are likely to hear again and again, at least in science fiction. How to fix it? Go back in time and stop it from ever happening, of course. We recently had the opportunity to chat with showrunner Terry Matalas about how time and time travel work in the 12 Monkeys, a show that's not as far removed from science as you might think. Without further ado, “Initiate splinter sequence…”
The Planet of the Apes scenario is a dramatized version of the so-called “Twin Paradox.” The Twin Paradox is a well-known problem posed to students of physics and relativity. Imagine two twins decide to join NASA. One twin is sent on a mission into space, while the other stays home. The traveling twin goes 10 light years (~60 trillion miles) away, turns around, and comes back. Upon his arrival, the traveling twin is several years younger than the twin that stayed on Earth. How did this happen? This article explains the Twin Paradox, and how space travel can be used to travel to the future!