1. PORTAL 2: THE VIDEO GAME THAT MAKES YOU THINK
Confession: I am not into video games. I realize this takes my geek status down a notch, but c'mon, I've got enough other things that should qualify me...like my love of science...which in this case, boomerangs right back into video games with Portal 2. The New York Times' review of the game describes it as "The achingly brilliant new game from the Valve Corporation that wrings more fun out of physics than all of the shoot-’em-ups in the world."
Reviewer Seth Schiesel says the key to the game is that it helps the player to undersand the beauty of physics without the pesky math that often gets in the way.
...the brain seems to understand this science at a basic level. Gently toss a ball to a dog or a small child, and he or she will catch it without the faintest conscious understanding of acceleration, momentum and gravity. Throw the same ball as hard as you can, and that dog or child will try to defend against it or dodge, instinctively understanding complex calculations of velocity and potential impact.
With Portal 2, it's not a ball but rather a portal ray gun that is the player's toy of choice as (s)he attempts to escape what the game describes as a "funhouse of diabolical science," complete with robots, shifting wall panels and some very cool boots. Intrigued? Here's a look at the TV launch ad; for more videos, check out the official game site. This might just be the game that turns me into a player...
2. EVOLUTION VIDEO COMPETITION
Here's the scoop on a video contest from the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent). Application deadline is Friday, June 10, 2011.
Submit your best evolution-themed video for screening at this year’s Evolution meeting!
The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) invites scientists of all stripes — graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty — to enter the first annual Evolution Video Competition. To enter, please submit a video that explains a fun fact, key concept, compelling question, or exciting area of evolution research in three minutes or less. Entries may be related or unrelated to your own research, and should be suitable for use in a classroom (K-12, undergraduate, graduate…your choice). Videos should be both informative and entertaining. (In other words, no taped lectures or narrated Powerpoint presentations!) Animations, music videos, and mini documentaries are all fair game. To enter your video, please complete our online registration form.
3. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS, ZOMBIE STYLE
With natural disasters such as the recent Missouri tornado becoming all too common, everyone should have an emergency kit ready to go, and an agreed upon emergency plan that has been reviewed by all family members. However, when you're not caught in the eye of the storm, taking the time to put these things together often claims a very low position on the priority list.
Enter the Center for Diseases Control's (CDC) Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Guide, a cheeky exploration of how the CDC would handle a Zombie outbreak. Turns out that just as with hurricanes and earthquakes, having an evacuation route and a list of emergency numbers is key when the Zombies show up.
4. THE FRACKING SONG
At last year's Sundance, I was horrified when I saw Josh Fox's documentary GasLand and learned about the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Not familiar with the topic? For an intro, check out My Water's on Fire Tonight (The Fracking Song), a project spearheaded by NYU journalism student David Holmes.
For a behind-the-scenes look at how the project came about, check out Mallary Jean Tenore's piece "From Schoolhouse Rock to 'The Fracking Song,' Explainers as 'acts of empathy.' "