Science communicators write screenplays? Heck yeah I do: the kind you see in museum exhibitions and planetariums (planetaria, if you’re nerdy).
I’m stoked and honored to be working on one about human space flight for a NASA grant, working with the Bell Museum and brilliant full-dome producers at Morehead Planetarium. Hoping it will be the kind of film that makes every kid who sees it want to work for NASA.
Well why not, I ask you.
And hey, wow: Victoria the T. rex, the video I wrote and directed for immersive, in-exhibition viewing, has won three awards! 🏆 🏆 🏆 See a sample from it (minus narration) at my instagram page, linked below. Cinematography, animation, and production by the incredibly talented folks at Animism Studio:
Honored and humbled by response to my first book, Consider the Platypus: Evolution through Biology’s Most Baffling Beasts, available now wherever books are sold:
- Wall Street Journal – “What to Give” nature books gift guide
- American Scientist – Science Book Gift Guide
- Minnesota Book Awards – Finalist in General Nonfiction
- Ars Tecnica – Science and tech book review
- Queensland Reviewers Collective – book review
“Victoria” is a newly discovered T. rex specimen, the second largest and most complete known to science (after Sue, at the Field Museum). I had the great honor of working alongside some of the world’s leading paleontologists to develop a touring exhibition around Victoria’s pristine fossil remains, complete with “Become Victoria” interactives and a fully immersive Cretaceous-era diorama come to life. Best of all, the entire experience builds directly upon the most cutting-edge T. rex science. (We’re talking forward stance and feathers, people.)
[EDIT] And that’s not all! This November, 2020, I was utterly chuffed to learn that the film I wrote and directed for in-exhibition has won three awards! Much credit is due to the incredible, unrivaled work of Animism Studio with whom collaboration was a career-topping thrill.
The exhibition, Victoria the T. Rex, is open now at the Arizona Science Center. Colossal thanks to the entire top-notch team, including Dr. Dave Hone, Dr. Heinrich Mallison, IMG, NGX Interactive, Stacy Sidman, and Khalil Williams. Check out the suuuuper flashy trailer for the exhibition below:
I’m honored to finally have this piece in print, after having read and kneaded and baked it for years now. Thank you yet again to the powerful people of Paper Darts.
One more dispatch from my adventures with Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre & their Interrobang Festival of Questions. Click the below links for some primo procrastination-aiding video content!
A discussion of ocean vs. space travel & the public’s expectations of science*, among molecular biologist/science communicator Upulie Divisekera, sci-fi author & BoingBoing editor Cory Doctorow, & some “comedy science” lady (me)
And What Future Do We Want and Deserve? With radical chef Adam Liaw, futurist Kristin Alford, author/editor Cory Doctorow, & that “comedy science” lady again, moderated by Wheeler Centre Director Michael Williams
*Stay tuned for the above-referenced COMPETITIVE Q&A, plus my speech on what science & art tell us about the importance of words vs. actions.
As of March, I’m officially a Research and Evaluation Associate at the Science Museum of Minnesota. What does that mean? I’m continuing to use science to study how people learn about science (the research part of my job), and to see if the science museum is effectively teaching people science (the evaluation part of my job), only now I design & head studies myself. It’s an honor and a thrill.
Last week I attended the American Alliance of Museums annual conference and presented a poster about the reflective interview techniques used in my research this past year (spoiler: kids know more about themselves than you think; puppets help).
Conference highlight: After his awesome talk on animal empathy, famed primatologist Frans de Waal and I nerded out together about animal intelligence, anthropomorphism, and the problems with psychology and neuroscience. He rubbed his chin and got thinky about my dolphin book, which is the highest compliment you can receive from a researcher. You know his work on “fairness” in monkeys. Or you should:
May 20th, I’ll be in Washington DC as a scholarship recipient at the National Institutes of Health Science Education conference (NIHSciEd2015). May 28th, I’ll be at our very own Walker Arts Center for the first annual arts journalism conference, SUPERSCRIPT, because I keep insisting art and science belong together. (My SciArt column should ramp up again by then.) By the end of the year, I’ll have attended seven science and arts conferences. No rest for the wearious (weary+curious).
See you at a brown bag soon?
Here’s some stuff I was coyly withholding and/or forgot:
The Tangential has a book out and I have a piece in there! They let me write about Minnesota even though I’m not originally from here. In it, I explain the science behind that thing that happens when it’s so cold that you step outside and start swearing like a sailor. “Minnesota Tourette’s” I call it. See if you can find the super weird typo in the title that no one seemed to notice. Fun with print media.
Tomorrow, I’m honored to be part of the acclaimed international reading series Women of Letters alongside some pretty hardcore badasses. We’ll lay ourselves bare at Joe’s Pub in NYC. Come crush with us.
Meanwhile, things at the Science Museum are chugging along nicely. I’m learning about how kids connect to engineering and how grownups connect to nano (and probably learn better from it). Shhh. More when we publish.
And what ever happened to my Sci+Art column at the Walker Art Center’s MNartists.org? It’ll be back in two weeks. I just had to do some science and write about dolphins in secret for a bit.
- Gosh but you people really love hearing about dolphins and dolphin brains. Thanks to you humans and your weird obsession, I’ve gotten to speak all over town (here, here, and here) about dolphins, dolphin brains, and humans’ weird obsession with dolphins and dolphin brains. Next stop: MPR’s “A Beautiful World”. Subject: Consciousness. You see where this is going.
- My short story, “Lawn”, was selected as the winner of Revolver and Thirty Two magazine’s ANTE-UP contest. I’m honored. Check it out here, and in the new paper issue of Thirty Two.
- New posts on chemistry, David Bowie, and the science of hands in my Science+Art column for the Walker Art Center’s MNartist’s blog. Because, you know, it is a beautiful world.
1. Mediander with me
Over two years ago, I was sworn to secrecy as I started writing for a crazysexycool new website, the likes of which the world had never seen.
This month, it finally launched, and the world got to fall in love with…
MEDIANDER DOT COM (com, com, com…)
I’ve linked you to the place where most of my “Culture Maps” live––nine and counting. What makes Mediander different is that the research connects disparate topics: Charlie Chaplin to The Atomic Cafe to books by dictators, Nabokov to synesthesia and lepidopterology, and much! Much! More!
Got off to a good start when researchers at the International Space Station liked my map on the Space Race:
2. That Smithsonian magazine
A childhood dream came true this month when I had an article published in Smithsonian. The piece allowed me to explore science+art at its best, in the form of Guillermo Bert’s 2D-coded traditional indigenous tapestries––one of the coolest artistic concepts I’ve seen in a long time.
3. WRITE FIGHT
The night before my birthday, I sat down at an old, malfunctioning Olivetti typewriter, on the train tracks.
The purpose? To battle it out in Revolver magazine‘s WRITE FIGHT, a single-elimination showdown with some of my favorite writers in town. It was both humbling and harrowing.
Competitors got the first line of the story, ten minutes to think for the first two rounds, no time to think for the last round, AND there were insane, orchestrated distractions at every turn. First round, I wrote as audience members came up and whispered suggestions in my ear. Second round, I had to put the typewriter on the lap of a stranger, who smack-talked me all the while.
Third round, at the center of a dancing mob, I wrote the story behind what improvisors would call the cruelest possible set-up:
“Even as it happened, I realized this was the most hilarious death ever.”
See what happened in the last three paragraphs of this article! [Spoiler alert, I won.] It was one of the most difficult feats of art I’ve ever undertaken, and my comrades in arms are my heroes more than ever. The… End…?