PopWatch Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch Blog

Tag: Science (1-10 of 93)

Google Doodle celebrates chemist Percy Julian's birthday

Google-Doodle.jpg

Today, Google celebrates what would have been the 115th birthday of Percy Julian, a chemist whose research led to chemical birth control and immune-suppressing medications.

Julian was born in Alabama on April 11, 1899, at a time when his city of Montgomery didn’t provide public education for black students post-middle school. Despite this, Julian persevered and ended up both attending and excelling at Indiana’s DePauw University. He later returned to the university to work on synthesizing plant products into medicine, where he found much success; some of his accomplishments include creating a synthetic cortisone to inexpensively treat arthritis and discovering a treatment for glaucoma.

Julian received many honors in (and after) his lifetime, including being the first black chemist to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He passed away in 1975.

Yeah, Kate Mulgrew doesn't really think the sun revolves around the Earth

(Wait, what?)

So here’s the situation: On Monday, word broke that Kate Mulgrew — best known these days for playing Red on Orange Is the New Black – is the narrator of an upcoming documentary called The Principle. Spoiler alert: The principle is that contrary to Copernicus and, you know, centuries of documented science, the sun revolves around the Earth.

This is notable for several reasons, including but not limited to these:

READ FULL STORY

'Cosmos' then and now: The 'personal voyage' of Carl Sagan, the Hollywood cool of Neil deGrasse Tyson

Like reboots of most anything, be it the Star Trek film franchise or the Hannibal television series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (premiering Sunday, March 9 on Fox) does not require familiarity with its original incarnation to be appreciated and enjoyed. Yet comparing the two shows, and their first episodes, is instructive. The first Cosmos, broadcast on PBS in 1980, had a different subtitle: “A personal voyage.” The person implied was the viewer — all of humanity. It was also the creative intelligence behind the series, astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan, who died in 1996. His widely watched series explored all of creation, and expressed all of himself — his mind, his heart, his hopes, his fears. Sagan wanted to use popular culture to evangelize science, exploration, and a worldview that was infinitely bigger than the world itself.

Inspiration for the series sprung from disappointment. In 1976, Sagan, then a member of the Viking Lander Imaging Team at NASA surveying Mars with robots, was dismayed by the lack of attention given to their historic, important work by the news media. At the time, the cultural narratives about space focused on the question of alien life and hospitable planets, and Team Viking couldn’t support reductive storylines about little green men or interplanetary manifest destiny. But Sagan was convinced the public was hungrier for knowledge — and more capable of appreciating complexity — than the press assumed. In the companion book to Cosmos, Sagan wrote: “I was positive from my own experience that an enormous global interest exists in the exploration of the planets and in many kindred scientific topics — the origin of life, the earth, and the Cosmos, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, our connection with universe. And I was certain that this interest could be excited through that most powerful communications medium, television.”

READ FULL STORY

Researchers discover fossilized blood-filled mosquito: Is this the key to 'Jurassic Park'?

The good news: Researchers have found the first fossilized mosquito still engorged with blood.

Don’t rejoice just yet, Jurassic Park fans. (In other words, hold on to your butts.) The bad news? The tiny insect has no traces of dino DNA.

Dale Greenwalt, a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution, discovered the fossil — the first of its kind– which has been preserved in a piece of shale in Montana for 46 million years. But because of its age, the fossil is unlikely to contain anything relating to dinosaurs. (Remember: the park was an adventure 65 million years in the making.) Plus, DNA doesn’t survive this long, and the researchers have no idea from where the blood came.

READ FULL STORY

Illustrious Google doodle celebrates Swiss naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian

google-doodle

Google’s going green today to honor a natural woman: Maria Sibylla Merian, a scientific illustrator born April 2, 1647. (She doesn’t look a day older than 360!)

Merian is best known for the illustrated text Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, which she published in 1705 after spending two years in the Dutch colony of Suriname with her daughter Dorothea (and, somewhat scandalously, without a male companion!).  The book included illustrations of both insect life cycles and the plants on which they lived, giving many Europeans their first extensive glimpse at the New World’s botanical and entomological features. Her work garnered several important fans, including Russian emperor Peter the Great. She died in Amsterdam in 1717, two years after suffering a stroke that left her partially paralyzed.

Celebrate Merian’s life today by browsing through a few of her gorgeous prints, not swatting any flies, and eating some pineapple — which the illustrator once described as “the most outstanding of all edible fruits.”

Read more:
Google launches ‘The Peanut Gallery,’ or a new thing for you to do instead of working
Google Reader shutting down
Google unveils ‘talking shoe’ at SXSW Interactive

Google Doodle celebrates world's first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace

google-doodleIt’s only fitting that today’s Google Doodle honors Ada Lovelace — the woman widely recognized as the world’s first computer programmer.

The web giant celebrates the tech pioneer’s 197th birthday with an image of “the enchantress of numbers” writing the first computer algorithm beside machines she helped design that were considered forerunners to the modern computer. READ FULL STORY

'Firefly: Browncoats Unite' reunion tonight: Why Joss Whedon's cult classic has endured for a decade

firefly-nathan-fillion.jpg

Some television shows blaze bright and fade quickly. Others ignite and burn for years. Joss Whedon’s Firefly did neither. The sci-fi opus barely sparked during its 11-episode run on Fox in 2002, yet produced a uniquely vibrant afterglow, nurtured by stalwart fans, as well as new fans who continue to discover the series on DVD and cable. To celebrate the cult classic’s 10-year anniversary, Science will air a reunion special tonight called Firefly: Browncoats Unite, which brings together Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, and more for a conversation (moderated by this reporter) about the show’s origins and legacy and where the series might have gone had it continued. READ FULL STORY

The Curiosity rover's descent to Mars, now in HD! -- VIDEO

Spoiler alert: Up close, the Red Planet looks more like the Beige Planet. Nevertheless, the following video — a 50-second HD thrill ride, captured by the MARDI descent imager as NASA’s Curiosity rover barrelled toward the surface of Mars on August 6 — is, for lack of a better phrase, insanely cool. The only thing that’s missing is a bombastic soundtrack; can someone please make a remix scored by “Space Oddity”? Or maybe “Major Tom,” in honor of the late, great Gale Boetticher? Click on to watch the descent in all its glory.*

READ FULL STORY

Mockingjays: Coming soon to a laboratory near you!

MOCKINGJAY

Hunger Games fans, are you unsatisfied with this ho-hum world full of naturally occurring animals? Well, never fear! According to a New York Times article, the books’ symbolic mockingjay — the Capitol-flouting hybrid of a mockingbird and the fictional jabberjay spy bird — isn’t inconceivable. “The tools needed to modify organisms are already widely dispersed in industry and beyond. Do-it-yourself biology is growing,” writes James Gorman. He cited Freeman Dyson of the Princeton-based Institute for Advanced Study (former home to Albert Einstein), who “envisioned the tools of biotechnology spreading to everyone, including pet breeders and children, and leading to ‘an explosion of diversity of new living creatures.'”

The chance to hear the mockingjay’s rebel song got us thinking: What other fictional animals would we like to see made real? Read on for a few of our ideas, then share your own. READ FULL STORY

PopWatch Confessional: What obscure movie errors have driven you to distraction?

titanic

It’s happened to all of us: You’re happily coasting along watching a movie you’re thoroughly enjoying, when up pops a glaring error that zaps you out of the movie and has you fuming to your friends as you exit the theater. At which point, you realize you were the only person to notice this so-called “error,” and all your friends think you’re a crank who totally missed the point of the movie and wish you would just shut up about it already.

The difference between you and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is that the famed astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York was actually able to do something about it. Upon seeing Titanic in the theater, Dr. Tyson became incensed after Kate Winslet, delirious and nearly frozen in the black Atlantic Ocean, looked up at the night sky and saw the wrong set of stars for that specific time and place. Apparently, astrophysicists can tell you exactly what the night sky looked like in the North Atlantic in the wee hours of April 15, 1912, and that’s exactly what Dr. Tyson did. He sent a letter to James Cameron. Five years later, he cornered Cameron at an event and lodged his complaint once more. A few years after that, he brought it up again at an intimate dinner party with Cameron. And now, this Wednesday, Titanic will be hitting theaters in 3-D, with no other alterations to the film except that now, Rose Dawson will be looking up at the same stars those doomed Titanic passengers saw that fateful night. (You can watch Tyson recount his entire story here.)

This is such a specific complaint, it got me thinking: What nagging movie goofs only seem to bother me? READ FULL STORY

Latest Videos

Advertisement

From Our Partners

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP