Tag Archives: scientists

Know any Canadian scientists (Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs) who’d like to meet with Members of Parliament and Senators?

The folks at the Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) have just announced a pilot project heavily influenced by a successful Australian initiative matching scientists and lawmakers for a day. This is going to cost the participant money and the application deadline is August 31, 2018.

If you’re still interested, from a July 10, 2018 CSPC announcement (received via email),

The Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC), in partnership with the Chief Science Advisor of Canada [Mona Nember], is launching a new and exciting pilot program: Science Meets Parliament. This is a unique opportunity that invites scientists and engineers of various disciplines to spend one day on the Hill, shadow an MP or senator, explore their role in modern political decision making, and develop an understanding of the parliamentary process.

For more information about the program, eligibility and the application process, please visit the page on the CSPC website.

CSPC is looking for sponsors for this unique and exciting program. We invite all academic institutions to partner with CSPC to support this program. Please check out the sponsorship page.

I found this on the CSPC’s Science Meets Parliament webpage,

Background

This program is modeled on the acclaimed program run by Science and Technology Australia, now in its 19th year. You can find more information about the Science and Technology Australia’s Science Meets Parliament event by clicking here. We are grateful to our Australian colleagues for allowing us to adopt the name and model.

Objectives

Scientists and politicians desire a mechanism to build close and resilient connections. Strengthening evidence-informed decision-making requires systematic connectivity between the scientific and legislative communities. This program will help to create an open and ongoing channel between the two communities.

This program aims to facilitate a crucial dialogue between scientists and political leaders. Selected scientists from across the country will have the rare opportunity to spend a full day on Parliament Hill shadowing an MP or Senator, attending House committee meetings and Question Period, and sharing your passion for science with Parliamentarians.

The program includes exercises and teleconference workshops leading up to the event as well as an orientation and training session on the day before, hosted by the Institute on Governance in Ottawa’s Byward Market.

Benefits

For Parliamentarians and Senators:

  • Interact with researchers driving science and innovation in Canada
  • Build lasting connections with scientists from diverse regions and specialties
  • Discuss the intersection of science and decision-making on the Hill

For Scientists:

  • Meet with MPs, Senators, their staff, and the Federal political community.
  • Showcase their research and discuss the impact of research outcomes for Canadians
  • Learn about the organization, rationale, and motivations of decision-making in Parliamentary procedures.

Eligibility

For this pilot year, the program is open to researchers who currently hold a Tier II Canada Research Chair and are affiliated with a Canadian post-secondary institution. [emphases mine]

The researchers should come from diverse range of science and engineering disciplines  including all social, medical, and natural Sciences.We expect that 15-20 candidates will be selected. We hope to open the application process to researchers from all career stages in future years.

CSPC will oversee the application process and will base final selection of the Delegates on applicant diversity in terms of geography, language, gender, discipline, and visible minority.

Program

The one day event will include:

  • An informative orientation session that includes information about the business of Parliament and exercises that prepare Delegates to speak with politicians
  • Meetings with Members of Parliament and Senators, the Chief Science Advisor of Canada, and possibly the Minister of Science (subject to her availability)
  • Shadowing a Member of Parliament or Senator during the day
  • Networking reception with MPs, Senators, and staff that will include a closing speech by a guest of honour.

The program will be held on the hill on November 6th [2018]. [emphasis mine] The mandatory orientation session will be in the late afternoon of Monday Nov. 5th. Delegates are highly encouraged to stay in Ottawa for the 10th Canadian Science Policy Conference, CSPC 2018, held from Nov. 7-9. In this unique forum, delegates will have the opportunity to discuss the most pressing issues of science and innovation policy in Canada. For more information about the CSPC 2018, please visit the website: www.cspc2018.ca

The detailed event agenda will be made available in the upcoming weeks.

Mandatory requirements

  1. Registration fee: Accepted delegates will be required to pay $250.00 , which will include breakfast, lunch, the evening networking reception, and admission to the program. All delegates will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation costs. [emphases mine]
  2. Scientists who attend this session are required to either present a lecture at their host institution, and/or write an editorial for the CSPC’s editorial page about their experience, interactions with Parliamentarians, and insights they gained during this experience.

For more information on any of the above please contact info@sciencepolicy.ca

If you are a current Tier 2 Canada Research Chair affiliated with a Canadian institution and would like to apply for this program please click here.

Deadline to apply: Friday, August 31, 2018 at 11:59 PM (PST).

For the curious, here’s a definition of a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (from the Canada Research Chair Wikipedia entry),

  • Tier 2 Chairs – tenable for five years and renewable once, are for exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field. Nominees for Tier 2 positions are assistant or associate professors (or they possess the necessary qualifications to be appointed at these levels by the nominating university). For each Tier 2 Chair, the university receives $100,000 annually for five years.

Good luck! And, CSPC folks, thank you for giving those of us on the West Coast a midnight deadline!

Beakerhead’s Big Bang (art/engineering) Residency in Alberta, Canada

I am sorry for the late notice as the deadline for submissions is Oct. 9, 2015 so there’s not much time to prepare. In any event, here’s more information about the Big Bang Residency Program call for proposals,

Every September, Beakerhead erupts onto the streets and venues of Calgary with cultural works that have science or engineering at their core. This is a call for proposals to build a creative work through an initiative called the Big Bang Residency Program. The work will be built over the course of a year with a collaborative team and will premiere on September 14, 2016, at Beakerhead in Calgary, Canada.

About the Big Bang Residency Program

The Big Bang Residency Program is funded by the Remarkable Experience Accelerator; a joint initiative of Calgary Arts Development and the Calgary Hotel Association. The program is led by Beakerhead with partnership support from the internationally renowned Banff Centre.

The program will support the creation of a total of three major new artworks over three years that will premiere internationally in Calgary during Beakerhead each year. This residency program will support:

  • One team per year each consisting of no less than four and no more than five individuals (additional support members are possible; however, the maximum size of the core team in residence will be five).
  • Two weeks in residence total; one week in the late fall and one week the following summer, with exact dates to be arranged with The Banff Centre and the selected team in residence. The production of the work is expected to take place in-between these two residency periods in Calgary.
  • Call for Proposals

    Beakerhead and The Banff Centre will support the design and build of a work to be shared with the world during Beakerhead, September 14 to 18, 2016. It will be created over the course of the year, which will include two weeks in residence at The Banff Centre with an interdisciplinary team of collaborators.

    Who is Eligible?

    This Call for Proposals is open to international artists, engineers, architects, designers, scientists and others. In addition to meeting the requirements for team composition below, the team must have a connection to Calgary so that the building of the work takes place in Calgary, the work is developed in Banff, the work premieres in Calgary and calls Calgary its home base. The proposal need not be submitted by a complete team: individuals may apply. The team can be assembled with support from The Banff Centre and Beakerhead to ensure that the collaboration of artists and engineers will result in a project that is created in Calgary/Banff over the course of the year.

    Team Composition 

    Each team must include:

    1. At least one individual who has received specialized art training (degree from a recognizing art institution) and has developed and exhibited a body of work;
    2. At least one individual who has received specialized engineering training (degree from an accredited engineering school), and previous experience in any artistic medium;
    3. Other members of the team should bring additional art and design skills, technical skills and project management skills. They may include emerging and professional roles.

    Staging and Exhibition

    The engineered artworks produced during the residency will be presented during Beakerhead in an unprecedented spectacle of performance and public engagement. The staging of the premiere may be developed in partnership with other venues, as dictated by the artworks. Many Beakerhead events take place in partnership with existing venues, such as theatres, galleries, public spaces, business revitalization zones, universities and libraries. The artistic disciplines may include installation, performance, visual art, music or any other media.

    The Details

    Design Criteria

    The successful proposal will meet the following criteria.

    • Location: The installation will be in a public location or available venue in Calgary, Alberta, from September 14 to 18 2016, and can be toured afterwards. Park-like settings and public roadways may be possible.
    • Dimension: There is no limit on dimension. However, proposals for works that can engage larger numbers of people at the scale of public art will be given preference.
    • Scope: Preference will be given to works that are both arresting to view and interesting to experience first-hand.
    • Install and De-install: Up to four days can be provided to install and de-install. The successful team must be capable of completing this work with volunteer crews.
    • Material: All materials must meet North American and European building and fire safety codes.

    Budget                                     

    A budget of CAD 24,000 is available for materials and supplies. The artist/collaborator fee is CAD 5,000 per team member up to CAD 25,000. Two weeks in residence will be provided for a five-person team, including accommodation and meals at The Banff Centre. Support for venue rental over the winter for build space will be provided, as well as heavy equipment costs.

    The budget may include:

    • All additional materials costs
    • Equipment services/rental for installation and de-installation
    • Contracted labour for specialized services
    • Documentation expenses
    • Stipend per team member (CAD 5,000 per member up to CAD 25,000)
    • Workshop and fabrication space rental in Calgary

    The budget may not include:

    • Travel costs
    • Salaries and wages

    If the budget proposed exceeds the amount of funding available, please detail your plans for acquiring additional funds to make up any projected shortfall.

    Additional

    Preference will be given to projects that consider:

    • Delightful and thought-provoking experiences at the crossroads of art and engineering
    • Use of public space
    • Assembly, strike and touring ability
    • Engagement of a large volume of viewers
    • Durability for multiple days of high volume public interaction

    Timeline

    Important 2015/16 Dates

    • Aug 6, 2015:  Call for proposals
    • Oct 9: Deadline for submissions
    • Nov 6: Announcement of the successful proposal
    • Dec 6: Presentation of the successful team at the annual Beakerhead partners meeting
    • Dec 7-12*: Residency Week 1 in Banff: Detailed production plan completed
    • Jan 20, 2016: Concept unveiled to public and build volunteers engaged
    • Feb-August: Build period in Calgary
    • Aug 22-27*: Residency Week 2 in Banff: Presentation planning and rehearsals
    • Sept 14 – 18: International premiere at Beakerhead!

    *dates may change

    Timeline Details

    The program will lift off with an announcement in August 2015, and the first major artworks premiered in September 2016. A second round will be announced in the summer of 2016, and a third in the summer of 2017.

    Interested applicants are encouraged to attend Beakerhead 2015 (September 16 – 20), or have an associate attend, to fully understand the presentation opportunities. The final team will be announced in the fall, and will commence the term with a one-week period “in residence” at the Banff Centre (a week to work full-time on the project) to develop the detailed design and production plan. The partnership with The Banff Centre will support the development of design drawings and a business strategy.

    The build will then take place over the winter and summer in Calgary. Beakerhead will support the successful team by making introductions to local resources and facilities.

    The team in residence will be strongly encouraged to engage an expanded team of volunteers in the building process to create a community of support around the spectacle element.

There are more details here including the information on how to make a submission.

International art/science script competition ceremony will be hosted by Trinity College Dublin’s nano centre and STAGE

CRANN (Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices) at Trinity College Dublin has announced that it will be co-hosting the winner’s ceremony (and a reading of the winning script) for an international scriptwriting contest featuring science- and technology-inspired plays. From the Jan. 11, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

CRANN, the SFI [Science Foundation of Ireland] funded nanoscience centre based at Trinity College Dublin, today announced that it is bringing the STAGE International Script Competition to Ireland during Dublin City of Science 2012. The competition judges will include a Pulitzer Prize winner and a Nobel Laureate.

The STAGE International Script Competition is a unique collaboration between art and science that awards a prize of $10,000 for the best new play about science and technology. STAGE – Scientists, Technologists and Artists Generating Exploration – began as an alliance between the Professional Artists Lab, a dynamic artistic laboratory, and the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Through CRANN’s relationship with CNSI, Dublin has beaten off stiff international competition to bring STAGE to Ireland.

As the 2012 City of Science, Dublin will host a programme of science-related events and activities throughout the year. The city will host Europe’s largest science conference, the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) 2012 from July 11-15, 2012, at which the winner of the 5th STAGE International Script Competition will first be announced to the public.

Later in the year, STAGE and CRANN will collaboratively host the award ceremony, at which the winning playwright will receive their STAGE Award from a science Nobel Laureate. In tandem with the ceremony, there will be a staged reading of the winning play, performed by professional Irish actors. Nancy Kawalek, Founder/Director of STAGE, will direct the reading.

Unfortunately, it’s too late for interested parties to submit their plays for this cycle (the 5th); submissions were closed as of Dec. 1, 2011.

The competition certainly seems to have attracted some high profile interest in past years (from the news item on Nanowerk),

Each cycle, the winner of the STAGE International Script Competition is chosen by a stellar panel of judges. Judges for the last cycle were Pulitzer Prize and Tony-Award winning playwright David Auburn; Tony, Olivier, and Obie Award-winning playwright John Guare; Nobel Laureate Alan Heeger; Nobel Laureate and KBE Sir Anthony Leggett; and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. In addition to Mr. Lindsay-Abaire, who has shown his support for STAGE by signing on as a judge ‘in perpetuity’, the judges for this 5th cycle of the competition will include two science Nobel Laureates and two additional distinguished writer-artists from the theatre world. The names of these jurors will be announced in early 2012.

The 3rd cycle winner was a play about Rosalind Franklin; I’ve long been interested in her story and  I mentioned it in a July 28, 2010 post about science-inspired knitting (there’s a ‘Rosalind’ scarf),

For anyone not familiar with Franklin (from the San Diego Super Computer Center at the University of Southern California web page),

There is probably no other woman scientist with as much controversy surrounding her life and work as Rosalind Franklin. Franklin was responsible for much of the research and discovery work that led to the understanding of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA. The story of DNA is a tale of competition and intrigue, told one way in James Watson’s book The Double Helix, and quite another in Anne Sayre’s study, Rosalind Franklin and DNA. James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins received a Nobel Prize for the double-helix model of DNA in 1962, four years after Franklin’s death at age 37 from ovarian cancer.

Here’s a bit more about the 3rd cycle STAGE winner, Photograph 51, from the news item on Nanowerk,

A film version of third STAGE Competition winner Photograph 51 is being produced by Academy Award-nominated director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), Academy Award-winning actress Rachel Weisz, and Ari Handel. Playwright Anna Ziegler will adapt her play for the screen. Photograph 51 was featured at the 2011 World Science Festival in New York City; the play has also enjoyed prestigious productions in New York City and Washington, D.C.

 

About the Play: What does a woman have to do to succeed in the world of science? It is 1953 and Dr. Rosalind Franklin, brilliant, passionate and ambitious, pours herself into her work at King’s College Lab in London. When fellow scientists Watson and Crick find out about her discoveries in the field of DNA, her work is suddenly not her own – and shortly thereafter they claim credit for a major breakthrough. A compelling drama about a woman’s sacrifice for professional success, Photograph 51 asks how we become who we become, and whether we have any power to change.

I checked the playwright’s, Anna Ziegler, website for more information about the upcoming movie and found this,

Anna has been awarded [April 2011] a Tribeca Film Festival / Sloan Grant to adapt her play PHOTOGRAPH 51 into a film. Rachel Weisz, Ari Handel, Audrey Rosenberg and Darren Aronofsky are producers.

You can find out more about STAGE and other winners of the competition here.

Scientists learning to speak and engage

I’ve come across a couple of US projects designed to help scientists speak and engage with the public. The Scientist (online journal) highlighted an acting workshop for scientists led by Alan Alda (known for the MASH tv series, Woody Allen films, and as the host for Scientific American Frontiers tv series). From the article (you do have to register for free access) by Daniel Grushkin,

This is what happens when you cross doctoral work with improvisational acting: A line of fifteen PhD students face each other in an imaginary tug-of-war. “Make sure you’re all holding the same rope,” says Valeri Lantz-Gefroh, their drama coach and a theater professor at SUNY, Stony Brook. “You don’t want to hold a shoelace when the person in front of you is holding a python.”

The students are part of a daylong seminar on communicating science to non scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. Prior to the imaginary tug-of-war exercise, they stood before each other and delivered short, off the cuff, introductions to their research meant for public consumption. Their talks were stilted and confused. Some swallowed their voices as they spoke. Others talked at the wall behind their audience.

Asked to describe their emotions during their presentations, one researcher complained, “It felt like I was almost insulting myself by dumbing it down.” Others nodded in agreement. The doctoral students were playing out Alda’s criticism of the science community. Alda believes scientists have been unable to make themselves understood by lay audiences. And as a result are failing to inform the public and policy.

A 2009 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center reflects Alda’s concern. Though the public ranks scientists third after military personnel and teachers in their contribution to society, only half of Americans believe in global warming and a mere 32 percent believe in evolution. Meanwhile, scientists complain that they’re not being heard. Half say that news media oversimplifies their findings, and 85 percent say the public doesn’t know enough about science. The numbers show a clear gap between the esteem that scientists hold in the public and the knowledge they’re able to transmit.

The other project highlighted by Matthew Nisbet at the Age of Engagement blog is a fellowship program for training in leadership and public engagement for scientists.  Pop Tech, an organization which focuses on social innovation and problem-solving ideas, is behind this effort. From the Sept. 15, 2010 posting,

PopTech is perhaps best known for its annual PopTech conference held every October in Camden, Maine. Called by Wired magazine a “must-attend for intellectual heavy weights…,” the conference features a line up of interactive talks by social innovators, scientists, researchers, and problem-solvers, with the goal of identifying new ideas and brokering collaborations.

PopTech … has announced its inaugural class of 20 Science Fellows. The fellows are early to mid-career leaders in fields such as energy, food supply, sustainability, water, public health, climate change, conservation ecology, green chemistry, computing, education, oceans, and national security.

The fellows were chosen based on their scientific credentials but also for their innate communication and leadership skills. As PopTech describes, the program is designed to provide the Science Fellows with long term communication and leadership training, mentorship, and access to thought leaders across sectors of society including those from the fields of media, business, social innovation, and education.

These projects provide an interesting contrast to the furor which greeted a paper that Chris Mooney wrote about scientists needing to pay more attention to the art of listening (my June 30, 2010 posting). I can certainly see how the acting class could lead to better listening skills (or paying better attention to your audience) but am not so sure about the Pop Tech fellowship project (a bunch of really interesting people getting together and getting excited means they tend to proselytize to the uninitiated for at least a short period afterwards).  Despite my reservations about the fellowship project I find these efforts encouraging.

Scientists as thieves

The movies tend to portray scientists as naïve fools/hapless pawns or villains. There is a little bit of truth in these portrayals, at least for the villains, as Sarah Rose’s new book about Robert Fortune, For All the Tea in China, makes clear.

Previewed in an article by Jenara Nerenberg on Fast Company, the book lays out the means by which the British government got its hands on the tea plant and secret to producing to tea. From the article,

Sarah Rose is the author of For All the Tea in China, which tells the true story of how tea and industrial espionage fueled the great expansion of the British Empire and the East India Company in the 1800s. The book focuses on one central character, Robert Fortune, who was a scientist sent by the British government to literally steal the secret of tea production from China, plant the Chinese tea in Darjeeling, and thus make the British Empire less reliant on trade with the Chinese and more self-sufficient by harvesting its own tea in colonial India.

Rose, in response to a question about contemporary as opposed to 19th century industrial espionage had this to say (from the article),

The vast majority the microchips for computers in America are manufactured in China–including those for the U.S. military. This creates a ridiculously high risk of espionage. Those circuits are just too small for us to know how really bad it might be, but from what I understand from the defense and trade communities, it’s a top worry. Meanwhile, the US’s relationship with China is thoroughly interdependent, as was Britain’s in the 19th Century. China owns a lot of our debt, so it loans us the money to buy the stuff China needs to export as it manufactures its way out of the poverty cycle. The two countries don’t necessarily like each other, but they need each other. When each player is so suspicious, it multiplies the competitive advantages of espionage and secrecy.

Most of the article is about tea and Robert Fortune who apparently dressed up as a Chinese Mandarin and fought off pirates in his pursuit of the plant. The focus for the book is on an adventure story and I haven’t seen any mention yet of the ramifications this theft might have had on China’s (nor for that matter India’s) economy and subsequent history.

The Wikipedia essay on Robert Fortune offers a far less colourful story,

Robert Fortune (16 September 1812 – 13 April 1880) was a Scottish botanist and traveller best known for introducing tea plants from China to India.

While the essay goes on to mention his exploits and makes it clear that he obtained the tea plants illegally, it stops short of accusing the British government and Fortune of theft and industrial espionage.

If you’re interested in Rose’s book, there’s a video trailer where she describes the story,

There’s more at Rose’s website.

This all reminds me of a course about technology transfer taught by Pat Howard (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada). We spent a fair amount of time talking about agriculture and seeds which surprised me mightily as I expected to be talking about computers and stuff.

Amongst other tasty tidbits, Pat mentioned that the Dutch burned out islands they didn’t own so they could destroy specific species of plants and retain control of the trade in spices that grew in their own territories.

Science and scientists in the movies and on tv

I find it easy to miss how much science there is in the movies and on television even though I’m looking for it. Here are a few recent examples of science in popular culture.

Inside Science of Iron Man 2, an article by Emilie Lorditch on physorg.com explains some of the background work needed to create a giant particle accelerator with a new way to power the reactor pumping Iron Man’s heart. From the article,

“I went to Marvel Studios to meet with one of the film’s producers (Jeremy Latcham) and even brought a graduate student along,” said Mark Wise, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena who served as a technical consultant for the film. “There was a specific set of scenes that I was consulting on; the story had to get from this point to that point.”

Wise was surprised by Latcham’s and the film crew’s interest in the actual science, “I attempted to present the science in a way to the help the movie, but still get a little science in,” said Wise. “They wanted the scenes to look good, but they also wanted elements of truth in what they did, it was nice.”

The producers for the film found their scientist through The Science and Entertainment Exchange (which is a program of the US National Academy of Sciences). From Lorditch’s article,

“Scientists can offer more than just simple fact-checking of scripts,” said Jennifer Ouellette, director of the Science and Entertainment Exchange. “Get them involved early enough in the production process and their input can be invaluable in developing not just the fundamental scientific concepts underlying a scene, but also — since film and TV are a visual mediums — scientists can help filmmakers more fully realize their visions on screen.”

I have blogged before about Hollywood’s relationship with science here although my focus was largely on mathematics and the Canadian scene.

Dave Bruggeman at the Pasco Phronesis blog regularly highlights science items on television. Much of his focus is on late night tv and interviews with scientists. (The first time I saw one of his posts I was gobsmacked in the best way possible since I’d taken the science element of these talk show interviews for granted.) There’s another Pasco Phronesis posting today about the latest Colbert Report and a series Colbert calls, Science Cat Fight.

All of this is interesting fodder for thinking about how scientists (and by extension science) are perceived and Matthew C. Nisbet at the Framing Science blog has some interesting things to say about this in his posting ‘Reconsidering the Image of Scientists in Film & Television‘,

Contrary to conventional wisdom that entertainment media portray science and scientists in a negative light, research shows that across time, genre, and medium there is no single prevailing image and that both positive and negative images of scientists and science can be found. More recent research even suggests that in contemporary entertainment media, scientists are portrayed in an almost exclusively positive light and often as heroes.

Nisbet goes on to offer four ‘archetypes’ and ask for feedback, (Note: I have removed some of the text from these descriptions.)

Scientists as Dr. Frankenstein: …  Examples of this image include Gregory Peck as Dr. Mengele in Boys from Brazil, Marlon Brando as Dr. Moreau in The Island of Dr. Moreau, and Jeff Goldblum as the scientist in The Fly.Scientists as powerless pawns: … Examples include Robert Duvall as Dr. Griffin Weir in the 6th Day and several of the scientists in Jurassic Park who work for Richard Attenborough’s character John Hammond, CEO of InGen.

Scientists as eccentric and anti-social geeks: … Examples of this image include Christopher Loyd as Doc in Back to the Future, the nerdy boys in John Hughes 1985 film Weird Science who use science to create the perfect woman, and Val Kilmer and his fellow grad students in the 1985 film Real Genius who serve as graduate students to a professor who is determined to master a Star Wars-like satellite technology. [my addition: The characters in The Big Bang Theory.]

Scientists as Hero: …  Examples include Dr. Alan Grant as the main protagonist in Jurassic Park, Spock in the new version of Star Trek who takes on leading man and action hero qualities to rival Captain Kirk, Jody Foster’s character in Contact, Sigourney Weaver’s character in Avatar, Denis Quaid as the climate scientist hero in The Day After Tomorrow, Chiwetel Ejiofor as the geologist hero in 2012, Morgan Freeman in the Batman films as inventor Lucious Fox and CEO of Wayne Industries, and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in the Iron Man films.

Serendipitously, I’ve returned to where I started: Iron Man. As for all this science in the media, I think it’s a testament to its ubiquity in our lives.