Science

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Physics of Orville vs. Enterprise

David Latchman

In The Orville episode, "Pria," we learn that the ship can travel upwards of ten lightyears (ly) an hour. Like the warp factor scale used in Star Trek, this is a measure of a ship's speed. To determine which ships are faster, whether the Orville is faster than any of the ships that have borne...
radioisotope thermoelectric generator Martian
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Staying warm with a box of radiation on 'The Martian'

David Latchman

In the 2015 science fiction film, The Martian, NASA astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) finds himself stranded on Mars after being struck by debris during a forced evacuation. Left for dead, the intrepid astronaut must not only survive on the barren planet, he needs to find a way home. Mark must use every resource at...
The Expanse Explosive Decompression
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Explosive Decompression in "The Expanse"

David Latchman

In the season 1 episode, CQB of The Expanse, the flagship of the Martian Congressional Republic Navy's Jupiter fleet, The MCRN Donnager, finds itself in a space battle with the six ships that attacked the Canterbury. Seriously outgunned, the Martian ship takes heavy damage from railgun fire; Canterbury med-tech, Shed Garvey (Paulo Costanzo) is struck...
Space Travel
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The Space Elevator and the Bruntouchables

David Latchman

In the Limitless episode, "Headquarters!", Brian Finch (Jake McDorman) tracks down the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives to get his own office. This quest is important to Brian as he sees his role in the FBI as not to only fight crime but the “Enemies of Joy,” and he needs his personal "Headquarters!" to do...
Parson brain prions
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Can the Project Castor prions be an STD?

Phil Nista

In the penultimate episode of season 3, we learned a key piece of information about the Orphan Black clones—the origins of the Castor and Leda Projects lie within a single solitary individual person, Kendall Malone (Alison Steadman). This mysterious woman with a murky legal record is not only a genetic chimera and hence able to...
children tooth stem cells
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Can Kira's stem cells save Cosima?

Phil Nista

Times are getting pretty tough for Cosima Neihaus (Tatiana Maslany), the one-woman Clone Club R&D department in the Orphan Black universe. What started out as an irksome cough has progressed into a full-blown autoimmune disorder affecting her respiratory and reproductive systems. In one recent episode (Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate), the extent of Cosima’s...
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Can clones fall on different parts of the sexuality spectrum?

Phil Nista

We’ve considered an awful lot about what makes Orphan Black Wikia - Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany - IMDb Page), Orphan Black Wiki - Alison Hendrix, (Tatiana Maslany - IMDb Page), and the swelling multitude of clones in the Orphan Black universe so dang diverse. Essentially, each week we’ve asked the science questions on the minds...
Cloning Legality
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Is it legal to own clones?

Phil Nista

So far, this series on the science behind Orphan Black has made a number of conclusions, or should I say clone-clusions? To very briefly summarize: (1) it’s hard to make a synthetic genome; (2) it’s harder to make viable clones, even without first synthesizing their genomes; (3) clones can be wildly different from each other...
Clone Dance
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Does epigenetic variation explain differences among clones?

Phil Nista

In a recent a blog post (nature vs. nurture), I outlined how it is that we aren’t much closer to understanding what makes each of the clones of Orphan Black totally unique. Though they sure do look alike, Orphan Black Wikia - Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) is a rebel, Orphan Black Wikia - Alison Hendrix...
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What is "Evo-Devo's" role in Orphan Black

Phil Nista

Season 2 of Orphan Black left us with a couple of doozies. First and foremost, we found there is But we also found out that the scholarly clone Orphan Black Wikia - Cosima Niehaus (Tatiana Maslany) is perhaps . Luckily, Cosima is a biologist currently working from inside the maligned Dyad Institute so at least...
nature vs nurture
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Does Nature vs Nurture explain differences among clones?

Phil Nista

The third season of BBC America’s critically acclaimed Orphan Black picked up right where it left off. Once again the defiant Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany), brainy Cosima Niehaus (Tatiana Maslany), and straight-laced Alison Hendrix (also, somehow, Tatiana Maslany) are cascading through the Orphan Black universe as technologically impossible clones (as discussed in two previous blog...
Orphan Black Spindle Proteins
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Are 'spindle proteins' preventing human cloning on Orphan Black?

Phil Nista

Last time we learned that modern synthetic biology is still (thankfully?) years away from synthesizing human genomes. But I also hinted that the challenge of writing a genome from scratch wasn’t the only thing preventing the Dyad Institute from dominating the world with an army of clones. In episode 6 of season two, To Hound...
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Did Rose murder Jack in the Titanic drowning scene?

Nikola Raic

Whether it is because people are trying to spoil one of the greatest romantic movies, or they are just trying to convince themselves that Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) was really supposed to die, the debate about the scene when Rose (Kate Winslet) drops Jack into the sea is still going on. The question everyone is asking...
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Is the science presented in Contagion relevant and accurate?

Mark Plummer

THERE ARE NO SPOILERS HERE YOU CAN READ WITHOUT KNOWING EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS "Contagion" is one of the few Hollywood films to employ on, the whole, highly credible science. As a movie "Contagion" more than hits home and, in my view, the most frightening aspect is the deliberate feel of the mundane and ordinary. It...
Orphan Black CLones
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Can synthetic biology create Orphan Black's clones?

Phil Nista

Ever since Frankenstein, science fiction has warned us of the dangers science and technology pose to our very humanity, and the BBC America series Orphan Black does a better job of this than most. As if it weren’t creepy enough to clone humans and clandestinely spy on their lives, the ethically questionable Dyad Institute also...
Walking on Miller's Planet
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Surfing on Interstellar Tidal Waves

David Latchman

In the movie Interstellar, Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) lands the Ranger 1 on Miller’s planet, a water world orbiting the supermassive black hole, Gargantua. Initial scans show the planet rich with the organic molecules, water, and sunlight necessary for life. Instead, what the team encounters is a shallow water world with 1.2-kilometer high waves. These...
Breaking Bad Mercury Fulminate
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Is Walter White's chemistry genius real?

Eliot Durand

Breaking Bad tells the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high school chemistry teacher, who is bored, boring and tragically middle aged. He is a logical thinker who seems to end up the loser in every situation. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, he decides to make a drastic change to his life as he may leave...

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