Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Science in Science Fiction at Comic-Con

Update: Script PhD has a transcript of the Mad Science panel! Some of the topics of bio-interest include brain scanning, legal issues regarding the children of clones, where they get their science ideas and the role of science advisors.

There's also this quote from Fringe writer Glen Whitman on why they like to base their plots on biology:
Fringe is a horror show, partly. Creepy and gross is easier with biology and virology, than astrophysics, usually.
Update 2: Science Not Fiction has the scoop on the Unlocking Arkham panel.

Update 3: I've embedded video of the Mad Science panel below. There are more recaps linked here.
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For those of you willing to brave the crowds at Comic-Con (and lucky enough to have been able to purchase a ticket before they sold out) you might be interested in the Mad Science: Science of Science Fiction panel on Thursday, from 6pm-7pm:
... explore science as a double-edged sword – it's ethically and morally neutral in and of itself, but science depends on who wields it and how. [. . . It will be ] a lively and fun discussion on science used for good vs. evil."
  • The moderator is Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy
  • Jaime Paglia — co-Executive Producer of Eureka
  • Kevin Grazier — Battlestar Galactica and Vituality science advisor. From his bio: "Grazier earned B.S. degrees in Computer Science and Geology from Purdue University, and a B.S. in Physics from Oakland University, as well as M.S. degrees in physics from Purdue and Geophysics and Space Physics from UCLA. He did his Ph.D. in Planetary Physics at UCLA." Grazier currently is a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  • Jane Espenson — major scifi writer/producer: Firefly, Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: The Next Generation and many other shows
  • Rob Chiappetta and Glenn Whitman — writers for Fringe
  • Ricardo Gil da Costa — cognitive neuroscientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and consultant for Fringe
The panel is co-sponsed by Discover Magazine and the Science and Entertainment Exchange.

Sounds like it should be interesting and entertaining. Maybe someone will post video? Here's the video:



There are a few other events of science in SF interest on the Thursday schedule:
5:30-6:30 The Physics of Hollywood Movies— Join physics instructor Adam Weiner (author of Don't Try This at Home! The Physics of Hollywood Movies) for an interactive presentation employing basic physical principles and a sense of humor in analyzing scenes from favorite Hollywood science fiction, superhero, and action movies, from Iron Man to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and actually learn the physics behind them—both good and bad!
6:30-7:30 The Anthropology of Star Trek Daryl Frazetti (Department of Anthropology, Lake Tahoe Community College, where he teaches a course by the same name), Ian Morris (UCSB student), John Stivers, Jacob Hurd, and Kanan Miller (Lake Tahoe Community College students) discuss the anthropological themes in the Star Trek universe. Select themes include such topics as politics, religion, identity, technology, the cultural role of the individual, and the anthropological concept of "race." A brief discussion on the subculture of fandom is also included, along with the cultural impact of Trek. Audience participation is encouraged. This presentation spans the franchise and explores the relationship between Star Trek and society throughout the past four decades.

6:30-7:30 Unlocking Arkham: Forensic Psychiatry and Batman's Rogues' Gallery – Arkham Asylum holds some of Gotham City's most disturbed criminals. But do they truly belong there? From the vantage point of a forensic psychiatrist utilizing real-world psychiatric diagnostic criteria, panelists explore the mental disorders of the Dark Knight's Rogues' Gallery, with in-depth analyses of The Joker, Two-Face, Riddler, The Ventriloquist, Mad Hatter, and Mr. Zsasz, among others. Learn as three psychiatrists explain the meaning of such terms as "psychotic," "not guilty by reason of insanity," and "psychopathy." Bring your questions, and join the fun as experts unlock Arkham Asylum and possibly set free some of its "inmates"! Panelists include H. Eric Bender, M.D., University of California, Los Angeles; Praveen Kambam, M.D., University Hospitals/Case Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio; and Vasilis K. Pozios, M.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
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