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Science shows off its artistic side

3d rendering x ray sperm fertilize with ovum


A new Star Wars® inspired film has been created in a bid to engage the public with science.

Frustrated by what he perceives as poor communications between the two, the Founding Director of the Wyss Institue for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Don Ingber, is using the tools of the entertainment industry to get his message across.

“Science is the pursuit of the unknown. We have a responsibility to reach out to the public and convey that excitement of exploration and discovery, and fortunately, the film industry is already great at doing that,” explained Ingber, who is also a Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

He joined forces with molecular biophysicist and staff scientist at the Institute, Charles Reilly, a professional animator with previous experience working at movie director Peter Jackson’s film studio, to use the medium to showcase the ‘story of a biological process’.

“Don and I quickly found that we have a lot of things in common, especially that we’re both systems thinkers,” Reilly said in a press release. “Applying an artistic process to science frees you from the typically reductionist approach of analyzing one particular hypothesis and teaches you a different way of observing things. As a result, we not only created an entertaining tool for public outreach, we conducted robust theoretical biology research that led to new scientific insight into molecular-scale processes.”

The film shows the fertilization of an egg by a sperm.

“Both science and art are about observation, interpretation, and communication. Our goal is that presenting science to the public in an entertaining, system-based way, rather than bogging them down with a series of scattered facts, it will help more people understand it and feel that they can contribute to the scientific conversation. The more people engage with science, the more likely humanity is to solve the world’s big problems,” added Reilly.

Watch the fertilization process get the Star Wars® treatment in this video.

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