Spotlight: The Science Of
Tell Us About The Science Of...
1. Introduce yourselves, please! Who are you and what do you do?
We’re Matt and Shari Brady, co-founders of The Science Of, a non-profit organization that uses pop culture to make STEM accessible and engaging to all audiences. Matt’s a high school physics and chemistry teacher as well as a science communicator and author of The Science of Rick and Morty. Shari is the Executive Director of Education and Engagement for Kaleideum.org, a science museum in Winston-Salem, NC. We provide resources and outreach for both formal and informal STEM education, from camps for kids to trivia nights at breweries, and every type of presentation in-between.
2. What can fans expect to see at MEGACON Orlando from you?
We’re excited to be bringing five panels to MEGACON this year:
Suicide Squad Science! - a look at some of the science behind the crazier characters from the movie and the situations they find themselves in...did someone say King Shark? Weasel? Bombs in necks? Starro?
The Last Damn Zombie Science Panel You’ll Ever Need - This is it. Seriously. We’ll talk about how to stop the spread, cure those that can be cured, figure out what we do and don’t need to worry about with the undead, and how to end the zombie menace troubling your world once and for all. All with science!
Star Trek’s STEM Legacy - It’s been 55 years since the start of the “five-year mission,” and nothing like Trek has influenced our world of technology more. We take a loving look at the connections between Trek and the real world to date, and what more are coming in the years ahead!
Free Guy to Skynet: A.I. in Our Stories, A.I. in Our Lives - How could you coax an NPC into some version of self-aware consciousness, anyway? And once that genie’s out of the bottle, is there any hope of putting it back in...or at least pumping the brakes before our skulls are crushed under the heel of the T-800?
Symbiote Science; Venom, Carnage, and Donny Cates - With Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage coming up, the symbiote influence looms large in the Marvel Universe. Let’s talk about symbiosis - both real and Marvel: what makes them tick, how do they spread, what happens to the hosts, and more! On top of all of that, we’ll be joined by legendary Venom & King in Black writer Donny Cates!
Along with the panels we’ll be presenting, we’ll be set up on the floor with science kits, meet and greets with panel guests, ready to answer your science questions, and loads of other goodies!
3. Does being a pop culture fan make you love and appreciate science more?
It does! We look at mixing pop culture and science not to point out how silly or impossible these fantastic stories are, but rather as a tool to get people thinking about science. Okay - So Iron Man can fire repulsors out of his hands. Taking Newton’s Laws into account, what does that mean about how he must stand or otherwise brace himself? Got a phaser in your pocket? What could provide the amount of energy we’ve seen them discharge in Star Trek shows and movies?
Bringing science to pop culture really allows us, and every audience to think about how these amazing things and people could work, and most importantly, ask ourselves, “Why can’t we make something like that?” Over time, a lot of someones thought that Star Trek’s communicators would be amazing things to have, so we, as a technological society, made them and we carry them around with us everywhere we go.
Fiction is the first draft of reality. Pop culture mixed with science gives us a chance to think about and explore what’s possible, and what we can bring into our world.
4. We are MEGACON Orlando, so we have to ask – what are you a fan of?
A lot of everything! Between the two of us, we have deep loves for Star Trek, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, both Marvel and DC Comics and movies, as well as so many others. But since this is a con, and there will be so many discussions already going like this, we’ll weigh in as well: Star Trek > Star Wars, Marvel > DC, Superman > Batman, Hulk > Thing, Dragonball Z > everything else, and Walt Disney World > Universal.
5. What’s an example of fantastical tv, film, or comic book science that you think may eventually happen in real life?
There are a lot of things going on in science and engineering that would really surprise fans to know how close some amazing things are, like Harry Potter-style invisibility, bioengineering and making small changes to make organisms (even us!) better suited to a changing world, and new materials - from Star Trek-style “transparent aluminum” to a friend of ours who’s made it his life’s work to make something as close to Vibranium as he can...and he’s getting pretty close.
6.…..and what won’t happen, but you really wish it would?
(sigh) Big-time space travel - flying off to a different planet orbiting a different star. The stories are terrific, but the science is a tough nut to crack since you’ve got some laws of physics standing pretty firmly in the way. Warp drives would be awesome, and they make news now and then, but it’s all theoretical… for now.
Oh - and transporters! Who wouldn’t love to beam over to their friend’s house, 2000 miles away for a quick visit? That’s another example of something that’s so commonplace in pop culture that we don’t even think about it, but in real life...there are a lot of issues, from matter and energy conservation and transmitter and receivers to...deeper issues, like, do you kill yourself when you hit “send,” and then the version of you at the new place is a different “person?” What happens to your soul? Can someone grab your data and just whip up a copy of you? It gets really weird, really fast.
Learn more about The Science Of at www.thescienceof.org