Archive for April, 2009

Fringe: The Delectable Delights Of Cerebrospinal Fluid

By Eric Wolff | April 29, 2009 4:31 pm

Screen capture from FringeThis week’s travel advice from Fringe: When picking up the ladies  at night clubs, avoid the ones with scary blue eyes who don’t talk. They tend to have shockingly pointy teeth, and are likely to eat you. Or at least, parts of you that you might wish you had later.  More on the nutritional content of your parts after the jump, which contains mucho spoilers.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Biology, Biowarfare, TV

Fringe Doomsday Clock

By Sam Lowry | April 29, 2009 10:17 am

fringe.jpgSciNoFi’s policy is that we use science fiction as a jumping off point to explore all the ways that entertainment mirrors and/or inspires real science.

As we’ve mentioned before, though, this is sometimes problematic when it comes to J.J. Abrams’s Fringe.  Still, we try not to critique.

Besides, Polite Dissent does such a good job of it already.  Head over to PD today for a recap of last night’s episode, including his ongoing homage to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Biology, Biowarfare, Medicine, TV

Five Summer Cinema Sci-Fi Future Favorites

By Stephen Cass | April 28, 2009 1:11 pm

Screen shot from They Came From UpstairsRecently, I mentioned that I was looking forward to the new Star Trek movie because the trailers looked pretty good. I was accused of having cloudy judgement—I wanted the movie to be good, and so of course the trailers looked good. Which is fair enough—plenty of movies haven’t been as good as their trailers.

But what’s wrong with rooting for a movie? I want Star Trek to be awesome again, to be all about adventure and a future where people get do interesting things other than hide from radioactive mutants left over from the apocalypse. Sure, rooting for a movie from the get-go has led to some pretty harsh disillusionment (The Phantom Menace, the second and third Matrix movies), but on the other hand The Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2, and Lord of The Rings all turned out pretty well. So, in order of their release dates, here are the five movies I’m rooting for this summer:

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Lost: Faraday Cages

By Stephen Cass | April 24, 2009 3:12 pm

Lost LogoWednesday’s night’s episode of Lost was a clip job, leaving unanswered some burning questions about the show’s resident physicist, Daniel Faraday, that we hope will be answered soon.

One question that had occurred to me can be answered. Is Daniel a descendent of Michael Faraday, the 19th century English physicist, chemist and (until recently) featured star on the back of British 20-pound notes? The writers of Lost like to have fun with historical names (John Locke and Jeremy Bentham, for instance, and Daniel Faraday’s own mother, Eloise Hawking). But the original Faraday had a special interest in electromagnetism, so the thought crossed my mind: Could Daniel be his great-great-great-grandson?

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Fringe: Virulent Emotions

By Eric Wolff | April 23, 2009 5:58 pm

Screenshot from FringeFirst, I want to assure anyone who’s not been to New York City that Grand Central station is never as empty as it was in Tuesday’s episode of Fringe. I’ve been there at 4 a.m., and even then, I’ve never been alone on the platform. I know it was a dream sequence, but I thought you should know.

Moving on (and spoilers below). Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Biotech, Psychology, TV

Waking (and Cloning?) Baby Mammoths

By Sam Lowry | April 22, 2009 4:34 pm

3630_waking_the_baby_mammoth-7_04700300.JPGThe 2007 discovery of a perfectly preserved, 40,000 year-old baby mammoth raised hopes that the animal’s high-quality DNA could lead to a revival of the species via cloning.

This week, an elaborately produced documentary from National Geographic Channel traces the path of the baby mammoth (“Lyuba”) from discovery in Siberia to analysis in Russia and Japan, as scientists try to piece together the details of its life and death.

Narrated by erstwhile Alias dad Victor Garber, the show makes impressive use of CGI animation and reenactments using the real-life participants to tell the story.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Biology, Genetics

Doctor Who: Your Offseason David Tennant Fix

By Stephen Cass | April 21, 2009 5:26 pm

While we wait for the Doctor Who specials to air on US television screens, the nice people at the BBC sent us this clip of David Tennant‘s guest appearance on Top Gear in a segment known as “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car”. If you don’t know this British show, Top Gear is to cars as SportsCenter is to sport — wry, cleverly written, and fanatic in the best sense of the word. (A DVD of the show’s 10th season was released this week, from whence this segment comes) It turns out that although David Tennant may be a master of time and space when he plays the Doctor, third gear is another matter…


J.G. Ballard: Master of Doom

By Stephen Cass | April 20, 2009 4:39 pm

Cover of The Drowned WorldScience fiction author J.G. Ballard died yesterday, aged 78. While most people know of Ballard as the author of the autobiographical Empire of the Sun, which was turned into a movie of the same name, Ballard was the creator of a number of relentlessly dystopic books and short stories. These haunting works were often set in times and places where worldly devastation was reflected in the equally scarred psyches of many of his characters. In a manner reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft, he portrayed humans as insignificant beings in a universe filled with terrible forces–civilization was a game of pretend that could come screeching to a halt at any moment. Unlike Lovecraft however, the forces that could irrevocably alter someone’s life overnight were not supernatural in origin—they were generally human or natural forces, amped up to apocalyptic proportions—floods, winds, wars, buildings, cars, and so on. (In choosing environmental and ecological disasters as the engine of many his apocalypses in a time when nuclear war was armageddon of choice, Ballard proved to be well ahead of the curve.) Reading Ballard was always a somewhat uncomfortable experience, but his willingness to explore the dark underbelly of technology and future will be sadly missed.

Image from Wikipedia

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Apocalypse, Books
MORE ABOUT: J.G. Ballard

Torchwood: Your Offseason John Barrowman Fix

By Sam Lowry | April 16, 2009 10:43 am

torchwood.gifWhile you’re waiting for the imminent return of Torchwood, there is an awful lot of John Barrowman on BBC America right now.

Any Dream Will Do is a reality competition for aspiring West End actors/singers trying to land the lead in a new London production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  The host is a somewhat subdued (compared to his late night show) Graham Norton.  The judges include Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber himself and your very own Captain Jack Harkness.

Whether or not musical theater reality competitions are your cup of tea, one episode of this show will leave you wondering, “How does the BBC find a dozen talented singers in the UK, while American Idol can only produce one in a much larger country?”

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Genetics, Neuroscience, TV
MORE ABOUT: Torchwood

Fringe: The Wasp, The Bat, The Gila Monster, And The Tiger

By Eric Wolff | April 15, 2009 5:57 pm

Screenshot from FringeWell, now we know what you get when you combine a wasp, a bat, a gila monster, and a tiger into one giant nasty thing: asexual reproduction! OK, not really, that just happens to be what happened on last night’s episode of Fringe (spoilers below.)

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