Microbial Art Brings Microscopic Life into View

Microbial Art Brings Microscopic Life into View

Earlier this year, the American Society for Microbiology hosted its second annual Agar Art competition. In this competition, individuals created art using Petri dishes filled with bacterial growth agar, a gelatinous substance containing nutrients needed for bacterial growth. Microbes are etched onto the agar surface, invisible at first, but then after a period of growth, the microbes reveal themselves creating designs on the agar plates. Each piece is accompanied by a caption describing the imagery and the science used in the making of the agar art. After the submission process, the public votes for their favorite piece(s) on social media.

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Scientists and Sci-Fi: A Spotlight on Two Dragon Con Science Experts

Scientists and Sci-Fi:  A Spotlight on Two Dragon Con Science Experts

Pop culture events like Dragon Con are full of activities aimed at satisfying our inner (and sometimes outer) nerd. What sets Dragon Con apart, though, is its elaborate Science Track, which dedicates over 40 hours of programming geared towards – you guessed it – science. But it's about much more than that. The Science Track aims to discuss science and science fiction in a fun, engaging manner, creating an environment where scientists and science enthusiasts can geek out together. We had the opportunity to chat with two scientists who are actively involved in the Dragon Con Science Track and in the field of science communication (SciComm): Dr. Raychelle Burks and Dr. Eric Spana. Both are sitting on a number of panels this weekend at Dragon Con.

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Exploring the Real Science of Sci-Fi at Dragon Con with Stephen Granade

Exploring the Real Science of Sci-Fi at Dragon Con with Stephen Granade

The day you’ve been waiting all year for is finally here. The doors open and you get the best seat in the house, front and center. You’ve prepared a question or two, hoping you get the opportunity to ask one of the speakers. Finally the lights dim and the panel begins. What’s the topic? Star Wars, naturally. Question one – could the Ewoks sustain themselves by eating Storm Troopers? I bet you didn’t see that coming. The special guests today are scientists, prepared to talk Star Wars science. They're speaking on just one of dozens of science-related panels at Dragon Con.

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The Making of Manhattan: Melding Science and Storytelling on the Road to Trinity

The Making of Manhattan: Melding Science and Storytelling on the Road to Trinity

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.

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The Power of a Paradox: A Lesson About Time Travel from SyFy's 12 Monkeys (Part II)

The Power of a Paradox: A Lesson About Time Travel from SyFy's 12 Monkeys (Part II)

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.

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The Power of a Paradox: A Lesson About Time Travel from SyFy's 12 Monkeys (Part I)

The Power of a Paradox: A Lesson About Time Travel from SyFy's 12 Monkeys (Part I)

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…”

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History or Herstory? The Women of the Manhattan Project

History or Herstory? The Women of the Manhattan Project

Set in the 1940s, in the middle of World War II, Manhattan tells the story of scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, and gives insight into the lives of the families along for the ride. US scientists were in a race with German scientists to develop an atomic bomb that could bring an end to the war. One of the most interesting features of Manhattan is that it highlights the experiences of female scientists who were part of the project, as well as the wives and mothers of the male scientists.

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Of Spies and Space-Time: The Science Behind Marvel’s Agent Carter

Of Spies and Space-Time: The Science Behind Marvel’s Agent Carter

From travel between universes to matter with other-worldly properties, the latest season of Marvel’s Agent Carter brings science into the spotlight by infusing the world of comic book heroes with real-life physics and scientists who subvert stereotypes. I sat down with the science adviser for season two of Agent Carter, Dr. Clifford Johnson, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Southern California, to talk about the show's scientific concepts and the characters who explore them.

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Art and Life in the Subatomic Realm

Art and Life in the Subatomic Realm

My workspace has some unusual supplies for an artist’s studio. Pinned to my idea board I have a list of subatomic particles, quotes from popular physics books, the names of inspiring physicists, and a picture of Nobel Laureate Marie Curie. I use my art to explore and explain how particle physics underpins all of life. As Fermilab’s first Artist-In-Residence, I found making art about physics was an act of discovery. Using science and art together not only energized my studio practice, it changed the way I see our universe.

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