Aug. 03, 2009

Angels and Demons and Women

by Karen A. Frenkel

There’s a lot of buzz about antimatter and whether the threat it poses in the movie Angels and Demons is real. But less has been said about the character Vittoria Vetra, an Italian scientist played by Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer. Maybe that’s good. I remember when Barbra Streisand accepted an award for best woman director in the early 1990s. In her speech, she said the award was "very nice," but that she hoped soon such a qualification would not occur to anyone. Perhaps we’ve arrived at that moment with regard ...

Science, Science & the Arts, Science on the Screen, Angels and Demons, antimatter, Ayelet Zurer, CERN, Dan Brown, God particle, Leon Lederman, leptons, National Science Foundation statistics, particle physics, physics doctorates, quarks, Ron Howard,
Aug. 03, 2009

Between the Folds, Betwixt the Beauty

by Karen A. Frenkel

Between the Folds, a new documentary about origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, is a gorgeous cinematic experience. I was so captivated by the documentary that halfway through I felt intense admiration for humanity, the same tingling I feel when listening to music so exquisite it’s almost painful. Many people portrayed in the film—artists, mathematicians, scientists––have devoted their lives to creating paper art objects for the pure fun of it, to satisfy their curiosity, to communicate. It was glorious to behold their energy and originality.Director Vanessa Gould says her ...

Science & the Arts, Science on the Screen, Akira Yoshizawa, computational origami, Eric and Martin Demaine, origami, paper folding, Vanessa gould
Aug. 03, 2009

Connecting With Emily Levine at the Edge of Chaos

by Karen A. Frenkel

Like a colorful Mandelbrot fractal, Emily Levine’s one-woman show about her illness and triumph over it spirals in and out from her personal experience to the universal. Her story spans Emily 2.0 and Emily 3.0––releases on life during her struggle with acromegaly. This disease is caused by a pituitary gland tumor and results in “gigantism,” severe headache, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, enlarged jaw and heart, hypertension, diabetes, and heart and kidney failure. Here is the website of humorist, speaker, and radio commentator Levine.Levine’s case took some time to diagnose and ...

Science & the Arts, Albert Einstein, Chaos, Emily at the Edge of Chaos, Emily Levine, Isaac Newton, James Gleick, Sloan Foundation, TED
Jun. 05, 2009

Two Cultures, Too Few Messengers

by Karen A. Frenkel

In early May, The New York Academy of Sciences hosted a day-long conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of C. P. Snow’s seminal lecture, “Two Cultures.” The first panel, “Historical Perspective: From Aristotle to “Science Wars” set the tone for the day. Below I highlight what was said and remarks that were echoed later in the day.Ann Blair, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, Harvard University, opened the discussion by outlining the evolution of the split between the humanities and sciences. Before and during the scientific ...

Science, Science & the Arts, Ann Blair, C. P. Snow, Dover trial, evolution, history of science, Intelligent Design, Kenneth Millier, National Association of Science Writers, New York Academy of Sciences, science journalism, science press, science wri
Apr. 14, 2009

West Side Science

by Karen A. Frenkel

Last Saturday afternoon in the cafeteria of a New York City public school, a ten-year-old boy gazed at a tiny, squirming worm in his palm. "I want to name it," I heard him say to a volunteer from the Lower East Side Ecology Center, "but even if I give it a name, it still won't be my pet." A desire to connect, sprinkled with a little hesitation, perhaps.Close by at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine’s table, girls with plastic blue gloves handled tan, squishy globs of I knew not ...

Science, hip hop stroke, Lower East Side Ecology Center, Morningside Area Alliance, science cabaret, science education, special effects, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine
Mar. 19, 2009

Film Review: Naturally Obsessed: the Making of a Scientist

by Karen A. Frenkel

To view Naturally Obsessed is to be extremely engrossed. This new documentary by Sloan-Kettering Institute Chairman Emeritus Dr. Richard Rifkind and his wife activist Carole Rifkind invites audiences into the molecular biology lab of Dr. Larry Shapiro of Columbia University's medical school. Here's the link to the film's site.We meet three graduate students and experience their day-to-day travails and triumphs as they try to isolate proteins and try to determine their structures. The most senior grad student is Robert Townley, who has already hit a scientific roadblock at a previous ...

Science on the Screen, crystallography, graduate students, Ivory Tower, molecular biology, Naturally Obsessed, research, Sloan-Kettering
Feb. 26, 2009

Let's Get Bookish About E-Readers and Study Them

by Karen A. Frenkel

By Karen A. FrenkelAmazon released Kindle 2, the second version of its e-reader, two days ago on Monday February 23, and product reviews and Op Eds are upon us. Sony has been competing with its Reader 700. A Dutch company, iREX makes an e-reader called the ILiad. And start-up Plastic Logic, of Mountain View, CA, recently demonstrated a prototype of its device.Amazon won’t release sales figures. Sony claims it sold 300,000 devices since its original debuted in 2006. Publishers are creating electronic versions of their titles—about 240,000 titles are available. ...

Science & the Arts, e-reader, electronic books, Kindle, reading habits, Sony 700
Feb. 05, 2009

Of Computers, Mice, and Distracting Ourselves to Death

by Karen A. Frenkel

By Karen A. FrenkelI recently covered two 40th anniversary celebrations of the demonstration of the computer mouse, hypertext, and other interactive computing features we take for granted today. Computing luminaries hailed Doug Engelbart, the computer scientist at SRI in Menlo Park, CA who invented those features. Moreover, they lauded his greater vision, which reached far beyond the sum of those parts. Engelbart's contribution was an entire system devoted to augmenting collective human intellect. If computers were going to be good at anything, Engelbart thought, they should be used to boost ...

Science & the Arts, 40th Anniversary of the mouse, Alan Kay, computer mouse, computer science, computers, Doug Engelbart, hypertext, science and democracry
Dec. 27, 2008

Doctor Atomic - Act Two

by Karen A. Frenkel

On Monday, December 29, the opera will air at 9 pm on Channel 13 -WNET as part of the Great Performances series.Act Two of Doctor Atomic careens toward apprehension and anguish while a storm rages and delays the test. It opens with Kitty Oppenheimer drinking wine while her Pueblo Indian maid sings a lullaby about preserving the earth. The bomb lurks above, behind are mountains draped in cloth. Blossoms and lightning, sings the maid in her contralto, blossoms and lightning.Meanwhile, the scientists are terribly jittery.

Science & the Arts, Doctor Atomic, John Adams, opera
Dec. 22, 2008

Dr. Atomic Intermission - Mezzo-Soprano Graham Interviews Composer Adams

by Karen A. Frenkel

A week from today, the opera Dr. Atomic will air on Channel 13 - WNET as part of the Great Performances series. I saw the opera during an HD broadcast in a theatre and reviewed the first Act posted on November 25.Here are my thoughts on the mini-doc we saw during Intermission:

Science & the Arts, atom bomb, Dr. Atomic, nuclear holocaust, opera
Nov. 25, 2008

Doctor Atomic: High Art in High-Def

by Karen A. Frenkel

Act OneFrom the moment we see a huge, ghostly projection of the periodic table, to the conclusion of Doctor Atomic with the haunting voice of a Japanese woman repeatedly asking for water, this opera demands that viewers search their souls. We do so along with the scientists and soldiers of The Manhattan Project, their spouses, and those who worked for them. The opera takes place after the German surrender and delves into events one month before, and the day of, the test blast in Los Alamos in July, 1945.I saw ...

Science & the Arts, Dr. Atomic, Gerald Finley, J. Robert Oppenheimer, John Adams, Metropolitan Opera, opera
Nov. 19, 2008

People's Choice Director Dara Bratt Details In Vivid Detail

by Karen A. Frenkel

Canadian-born Dara Bratt won the Imagine Science Film Festival's People's Choice award for In Vivid Detail (runtime 18 minutes). The short explores the impact on a budding romance of a man's childhood brain injury, a disorder called prosopagnosia. The phenomenon prevents him from recognizing faces; features appear to be mere lines. At first his girlfriend is skeptical that he really has this neurological disorder, but then struggles to understand and accept it. After watching a street artist draw a portrait of a girl, the man, who is an architect, tries ...

Science on the Screen, Dara Bratt, In Vivid Detail, prosopagnosia
Nov. 11, 2008

A Conversation with Award-winning Director of The Wormhole

by Karen A. Frenkel

I caught up with filmmaker Jessica Sharzer, who directed The Wormhole, the winner of the Imagine Science Film Festival's Scientific Merit Award. Ms. Sharzer made The Wormhole seven years ago while a film student at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. The 19-minute short tackles the emotions of a boy, Wally, who is mourning his beloved kidnapped brother. Wally wants to rewrite the past. The present if fraught with tension between him and his mother, who, in her despair, is afraid for her one remaining son’s safety. She ...

Science on the Screen
Aug. 02, 2010

The Connection Between Prime Numbers and Music

by Karen A. Frenkel

Prime numbers––those divisible only by themselves and one––have confounded mathematicians for centuries. Because mathematicians rely on patterns, the fact that primes occur at seemingly random intervals (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13…) makes them the Holy Grail of math. Many … Continue reading →

Film, television, BBC, Documentary, Marcus du Sautoy, primes, Riemann's Hypothesis
Jun. 28, 2010

The Inspired “Story of Math”

by Karen A. Frenkel

The excellent four-hour BBC documentary The Story of Math introduces viewers to the great mathematicians and their contributions by traveling to the places they lived and that inspired them. Host and Oxford Professor Marcus du Sautoy is most engaging as … Continue reading →

television, BBC, education, Marcus du Sautoy, math, TV
Jan. 22, 2010

Living in Sim: A Multimedia Meditation on Healthcare Today

by Karen A. Frenkel

Artist Justine Cooper has found an unusual way to express her frustration with our health care system; she’s created characters out of dressed-up medical mannequins. On her quirky social media site, these mannequins represent doctors, patients, and employees at a … Continue reading →

Blogs, Commentary, Reviews, ethics, healthcare system, Justine Cooper, mannequins, multimedia art
Jan. 08, 2010

Eric Kandel’s Quest: In Search of Memory

by Karen A. Frenkel

In Search of Memory, Petra Seeger’s documentary portraying Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel, is a manifestation of the associative quality of the human mind. It is a masterfully cut film that toggles back and forth in time. … Continue reading →

Blogs, Reviews, Anschluss, Brooklyn, Eric Kandel, Holocaust, In search of memory, neuroscience, Vienna
Nov. 24, 2009

Ken Burns’ National Parks: from Scenery to Science – Part Two

by Karen A. Frenkel

The continuation of my interview (see the first part here) with filmmaker Ken Burns: KAF: At one point Dayton Duncan says that all he learned about science, he learned at the national parks and he emphasizes the role of rangers. … Continue reading →

Blogs, Features, Interview, Radio Segments, Dayton Duncan, Ken Burns, lodgepole pines, park ranger, science education, Zion National Park
Nov. 13, 2009

The Attraction of Magnetic Movie

by Karen A. Frenkel

Imagine Science Film Festival’s Nature Scientific Merit Award went to Magnetic Movie, a 4-minute, 47-second short by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt of Semiconductor Films. Theirs was one of 50 films representing 9 countries and selected from over 250 submissions. … Continue reading →

Blogs, Reviews, Aurora Borealis, Carl Zimmer, Discover Magazine,, imagine science film festival, Joe Gerhardt, magnetic fields, Magnetic Movie, Mars, NASA Space Sciences Laboratory, Ruth Jarmon, Semiconductor Films, Sun, TV and Film
Oct. 26, 2009

The Science View

by Karen A. Frenkel

Like many women, I was excited about the number of women who received Nobel Prizes earlier this month. It seemed like a dismissal of Larry Summers’ famous remarks when he was president of Harvard that women are less capable in … Continue reading →

Blogs, Commentary, Ada Yonath, Carol Greider, Elinor Ostrom, Elizabeth Blackburn, Nobel Prize, Rosalind Franklin, Rosalyn Yalow, The View, women and science
Oct. 20, 2009

Ken Burns’ National Parks: from Scenery to Science

by Karen A. Frenkel

Part One Ken Burns’ new series, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea premiered on Public Television stations nationwide during the last week of September. By the end of the first episode, I immediately recognized that this opus differed from past … Continue reading →

Blogs, Features, Interview, Radio Segments, Adolph Murie, conservation, dogs, Hampshire College, John Muir, Ken Burns, Melendez Wright, National Parks, natural history, preservation, science and religion, TV and Film, wolves

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