Science Channel - InSCIder

Behind the Scenes

12 Jan

Hey Virtual Reality – What Have You Done For Me Lately?

My good friend Trace Dominguez over at DNews just weighed in with a great overview of the VR googles that were THE talk of CES2016, and will soon hit the marketplace. Unless you are a hardcore gamer, you are probably asking the same question I am – what will this technology do for me?  Let’s listen to Trace and then we'll look at a few ways different people might actually use this technology:


As mentioned earlier, some of the first adopters of virtual reality will likely be gamers. Wearing goggles as you move through an online quest or first person shooter will bring a depth and urgency to perform as though your life depended on it.

Gaming is only one aspect of how virtual reality could change the way you receive your entertainment. For example, content creators like Discovery Channel VR and others will be creating custom content that allows you to become a character in your favorite show. You can join the Mythbusters and virtually dive with sharks (probably the best way to start), or explore a virtual space station where anything can happen. Crisp visuals combined with the right sound immerses you in a complete way.

There’s plenty to do that doesn’t involve relating to our television shows. Surf, ski or skateboard some of the world’s most incredible places, or become immersed in a news story as though you were a witness. There will soon likely be virtual reality experiences from many content providers that exist to transport people to places they may not be able to get to.

So perhaps you don’t care about seeing the world right now. You want to watch football, basketball and hockey. Well, imagine if you could always get a seat courtside or in the end zone via virtual reality cameras capturing the game for you and streaming to your headset? You definitely don’t have to be a hard core gamer to see the value of having not only he best seat in the house at sporting even, but ALL the best seats as games get covered from every angle. That seat may come at a subscription or one-off price, but for many sports fans it will be the Holy Grail.

In the end, if may also be a case of not what virtual reality has done for your directly, but what it does for people who touch your lives in many different ways. Imagine the pilot being able to train landing at specific airports by slipping on a pair of VR goggles? Or the training doctors could have by being able to practice on virtual organs or bodies? Those football players that you might watch in VR? Well, they're beginning to train in VR as well. It seems the future is already here.

Even more astounding is the story of a doctor who helped repair an infant patient’s severely damaged heart by downloading pictures of her heart to his phone via an app called Sketchfab, and using the inexpensive Google cardboard googles to study her heart in all dimensions to help plan his life saving surgery. The 3D experience using the Google goggles allowed the doctor to look at her heart in a different way and create a new solution. That’s a pretty darn cool use of virtual reality.

So get ready to toss out the notion those VR headsets are creepy and just a novelty. It looks and sounds like 2016 IS the year of virtual reality.

Want more CES tech? Tune in tonight at 8P for 2016 in Tech: What's Ahead?

18 Dec

Survival Kit Tips From Les Stroud

Editor's Note: Les has very kindly put together a blog on basics on what should go into a survival kit. It couldn't be more timely as we get ready for the season finale tomorrow night @ 10p in Patagonia. We'll be giving away three of Les' Survival Kits for those who use the hashtag #SurvivormanKitSweeps - but only during his show tomorrow night! We have other content popping up as well so key an eye out on social media. We can't wait to talk to you there and hope you enjoy the finale. Now on to Les' tips: Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 7.10.36 PM

It is so very tempting, when faced with the concept of surviving in the wilderness, to want to carry with you the ultimate survival item. Is it a lighter? A knife? Food? No…..ok it must be water? Nope wrong again. Actual victims of survival have been asked time and again what they felt was the number one thing you need to survive in the wilderness. The answer: (and you can’t buy it at the outdoor store) the will to live.

There are documented cases of lost victims found dead beside a backpack of supplies. They lost their will to live. There are also fantastic stories of people suffering horrendous ordeals with nothing and they survived. Their will to live was strong.

But ok let’s get beyond the psychology of it all. I still just want to head out camping and carry with me a few items that, just in case I need them, will better my chances for survival. But now it all depends doesn’t it? Are you going to Africa? Costa Rica? The Arctic? Northern Ontario? And what time of year is it?

Suffice it to say – there is no one item that will ensure you make it back with great photos, all your limbs and the movie rights to your story up for grabs.

So I can only relate this personally now: If you are sending me off on a winter trek in Canada and you are giving me three choices, I will likely take a sharp axe, a water proof butane lighter and assuming I am dressed properly, a small pot to boil water in.

So you see, assuming I’m not injured, I have a way to split wood, make a huge fire and boil up some spruce tea. In the summer I will trade in the axe for a good tarp. This is the minimalist approach however. The ideal is as follows:

Firstly let’s get these items in your pockets…you can’t leave your pockets at the last camp site. If you really must, a fanny pack can carry the larger items but remember: if it is too big and heavy you will just not want to carry it around with you. Oh and couples – one other thing – DO NOT have a joint survival kit – keep It personal – if they’ve got the kit and you lose them – you lose the kit.

(Leaving out first aid for the time being) - Here’s my minimum kit - FOR SURVIVAL ONLY – (keep separate from your camping supplies):

In pockets or hanging from your belt;

·      High quality (sharp) knife
·      Compass
·      Solid matches with striker in a waterproof container
·      Butane lighter
·      Magnesium flint striker (hey – I like fires!)
·      One or two large ORANGE garbage bags
·      Metal cup (for boiling)
·      Rope (Parachute cord is great)
·      Whistle

In a small kit or fanny pack (try a coffee tin with a lid – you can use it for boiling);

·      Dried foods
·      Insect screen (seasonal)
·      Signal mirror
·      Small flashlight with batteries
·      Snare wire
·      Fishing lures (3), hooks, sinkers and line
·      Some two inch nails
·      Candle
·      Flares

You must!!!! – Know how to use everything in your kit!

BUT!!!!;  No single item is as important as some real survival training….kits can be lost and give a false sense of security. Survival should depend on your ability to adapt…your will to live….not on a single item you left back on the portage trail. ~ Les Stroud

15 Oct

What’s So Important About Being Awe-Struck?

We’ve all the heart pounding moment. Maybe it is from a cloud formation or water spout in the ocean you’ve never seen before, hearing an astronaut tell a story of near death, seeing your child be born, or perhaps it’s show on how the universe came into being. It’s that mind-blowing, “wow” moment where you are awe-struck.

You may not think of it this way, but awe is actually an emotion. Many in science and psychology didn’t think much about it until studies were done about 10 Years ago to find out what it really meant to be awestruck and whether it was important to us as a part of our other range of emotions.

What exactly IS awe? According to researchers, awe is having a feeling you’ve seen, heard, or met someone or something much larger than your everyday experience. It stops you and makes you think. With it goes seems to go the sense of needing to pay it forward and tell someone about it. To spread the knowledge or vision gained.

This insight comes from psychologists Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt decided to try and decipher the science of awe in 2003. After asking people to make a face describing awe, it was eyes wide open and mouth dropped. It seems awe is not funny or smile producing. It’s something serious and can be triggered by seeing something positive or negative, but the one result is this emotion makes you think when you experience it and want to discuss it with others in an attempt to understand or rationalize what you’ve experienced.

Other researchers noted it’s also not necessarily a “comfortable” emotion because you are processing and thinking about something you’ve never seen or heard before and you don’t necessarily know the the outcome. Is awe the recognition of the unknown?

Another researcher, Melanie Rudd, assistant professor of the University of Houston found people described it as “timeless.” When experiencing awe time seems to stand still or not exist at all reported study subjects.<< cont. below>>


So we know awe is an emotion tied to thought, understanding and needing to understand and share something we don’t understand. A wow moment can be beautiful or terrifying, like seeing an eclipse for the first time, or a tornado starting to form. What purpose could being stopped in our tracks possibly serve?

The researchers studying awe came up with two evolutionary explanations. If you are awe-struck you may pause to think about danger, cause, and the best possible reaction. From an evolutionary level being awed and cautious may have saved us from life or death situations, allowing humankind to survive and evolve, gathering knowledge along the way.

The other explanation is the need to explain the awe inspiring experience and to involve others. In other words, at a basic level it is a way of pulling a group together to understand a phenomenon. It could be defensive and for self preservation as spreading the word about a giant tornado formation might be. Or, it could be the twinge of curiosity about something and the desire to gain knowledge for others – such as studying the movement of the heavens to define time.

Whether awe causes us to be cautious or curious, the primal outcome is the same. Being awe-struck helps us come together and continue to evolve as a species.

If the basic outcome of awe is coming together, researchers such as Rudd and Keltner continue to study how this shapes our every day behavior. It is linked to every day curiosity, listening to each other and a sense of humility, open-mindedness, and connection.

Awe is something we can see hard enough if we look everyday as well. It doesn’t have to be the large, Earth changing event. It could be visiting a new country, or learning about how something complex is made – we certainly see that in Mike North’s face as he visits the LG TV factory in Korea and gets a lesson in the new OLED technology. His curiosity for “How does this work??” is paid forward to us as he dives into questioning the LG Team.

We get “wow, so that’s how it works!” moments of learning why an OLED TV can deliver a “true black.” This new category of televisions use LEDs in them to create the true definition by being able to turning off the light in the pixels that don’t need them. It’s the absence of light, not a dimming or projection of black that makes the difference. Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 3.03.58 PM

Seeing how thin and flexible they are is also amazing. Doc North can actually bend the screen with his hands! To think we’ve come from giant consoles using cathode tubes, to wafer-thin, see-through screens is a pretty awe-inspiring example in the evolution of technology.

LG OLED TVs have been called “perfect” for gamers and movie buffs. Why? It gets back to the awe thing. By being able to play a game that renders the virtual world with such realism and by showing movies with the beautiful, colorful pictures the directors could see in their mind is incredible. You want to play with your buddies and you want to gather your friends to enjoy a brilliant movie so you can all leave with open mouths at whatever your experience of choice was. Far from isolating us like some would claim about new technology, this one actually brings people together.

What does all this prove? That awe is an emotion that can be generated by many things. It depends on the person whether it’s a rainbow or experiencing the vastness of a modern factory. What remains the same is that we all have that twinge that stops us in our tracks, that makes us think, and perhaps build on what has excited us.

It is awe that may spur us to inhabit the Moon or Mars, and combined with curiosity it is an emotion researchers are proving should be respected and nurtured.

Enjoy some other moments of awe:

The History of Television

Ten TV Milestones

14 Oct

Hubble’s Images of Jupiter Bring Surprises

Using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, planetary scientists at NASA’s have captured Jupiter in an annual photo, and this year the very high-res images are showing some interesting new things.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 9.39.04 AMPlanetary scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory created two global maps on the planet to essentially show back-to-back rotations. This helps them calculate the speed of the movement they see occurring on the surface.

Focusing first on the famous Red Spot, actually a giant storm, the team confirmed the spot is still shrinking and becoming more circular. It’s also more orange than red. These changes have been occurring in previous photos, but what they did uncover that was different is a “filament” or streamer stretching for most of the width of the Spot, which rotates and is blown about by the high winds.

Additionally, when looking at the North Equatorial Belt, the team found a wave that had only previously been spotted long ago by Voyager 2. This image confirms the rare wave’s existence. It is found in a region noted for cyclones and anti-cyclones, and appears to be similar to baroclinic waves which are found in the Earth’s atmosphere prior to cyclones forming.

The reasons for its elusive behavior may be due to the wave beginning in the layers beneath the visible clouds and only becoming visible when surfacing to the cloud layer.

The annual photos contain a wealth of other information the scientists are still exploring. The yearly photos are invaluable and will continue as they provide a way to show how the planet changes over time and provide clues as to what they might mean about the weather, geology, chemistry and more of this giant planet.

Be sure to visit NASA’s Press Release about images to get more in-depth information and incredible video and photography.

For more story on The Red Spot, check out this in-depth look from HOW THE UNIVERSE WORKS:


30 Jul

Secret Space Escapes

What’s it like to leave earth to explore the unknown? How does it feel to be in space? What happens when you’re in space and something goes terribly wrong? Science Channel’s SECRET SPACE ESCAPES reveals terrifying accidents, fights for survival, and stories of close calls and near misses by the astronauts who survived them. This all-new series offers chilling accounts of the challenges of space exploration as told only by the explorers who lived them and the men and women in mission control who helped each team avert disaster. SECRET SPACE ESCAPES premieres on Science Channel Nov. 10 at 10 PM.

Recounting missions as recent as 2013, SECRET SPACE ESCAPES will draw viewers into the emotional experience of space exploration. Through first-hand accounts by the astronauts who relied upon science, training, colleagues on earth and, most importantly, their wits, in order to survive launches, space walks, landings, collisions, outages and other dangerous situations that occurred during their missions.  This is the first time that these near-disasters-turned-triumphs have been told solely from the point of view of the men and women who problem-solved each event – there is no narration in the series, and the stories unfold solely in the words of the people who were there. S98e5276

“The personal stories of the astronauts in SECRET SPACE ESCAPES have never been seen like this before on television,” said Rita Mullin, General Manager of Science Channel.   “These men and women have pushed space exploration forward with each mission, and their stories will haunt, entertain, educate and inspire.”

Featuring rare and never before seen footage, the astronauts and stories featured in SECRET SPACE ESCAPES will include:

  • Robert Curbeam and Thomas Jones trained for years to install a new American module on the International Space Station (ISS). During their long-anticipated spacewalk, a valve malfunctions and toxic ammonia flakes from the cooling system pour all over Curbeam. He struggles desperately to stop the leak before the vital cooling system fails. Covered like a snowman with ammonia flakes, Curbeam cannot risk re-entering the spacecraft, where the toxic ammonia could sicken or blind the crew. His only option is to stay outside, zooming at 17,000 miles per hour, 225 miles above the earth, and wait for the sun to melt away the contaminants.
  • When a new solar panel on the ISS tears, Scott Parazynski ventures out on a 90-foot arm to make improvised repairs. The solar panels carry enough voltage to fry Dr. Parazynski in his oxygen-filled suit -- but if he fails in his task, the ISS is doomed.
  • In 1997, Mike Foale is on an extended mission aboard the Russian Mir space station when it is struck by a resupply vessel. The station springs a leak, losing power rapidly and launching into an out of control spin. Under extreme pressure, Foale makes an ad hoc calculation using the position of the stars to determine the speed and direction of the spin. He and his Russian colleagues Vasily Tsibliyev and Aleksandr “Sasha” Lazutkin are able to use the rockets inside the attached Soyuz capsule to stop the roll, save the ship -- and their lives.
  • Hoot Gibson and Mike Mullane are on the second shuttle to launch after the Challenger disaster. It’s 1986 and STS-27 is a classified mission to launch a spy satellite. During liftoff, a video of the launch reveals a fragment of the booster rocket’s insulation breaking off and striking the underbelly of the space shuttle, Atlantis, damaging many of the protective heat shield tiles that leave parts of the shuttle exposed to 5,000 degree heat upon re-entry. Gibson thinks he’s going to die and Mullane suspects they may be facing certain disaster. They have no alternatives – there are no stations to dock to, there is no time to send another Shuttle to aid them and no way to conduct a spacewalk to fix the issue. Miraculously, even with vulnerable unshielded spots on her, Atlantis withstands the heat of reentry because a steel plate just happens to protect the aluminum hull where it is most exposed.
  • In 1969, the Soyuz 5 capsule tumbles to earth in a fireball because a malfunction does not jettison an extra equipment module. It’s like a car dragging a U-Haul trailer. When the capsule finally rights itself and the extra modules are jettisoned, its parachutes only partially deploy and the rockets that aid a soft landing barely function. Cosmonaut Boris Volynov lands way off target. Covered in blood from his broken teeth sustained in the crash landing, he manages to climb out of the wreckage and find his way to the door of a very surprised peasant.

SECRET SPACE ESCAPES is produced for Science Channel by ITV Studios America where Vincent Kralyevich and Patrice Andrews serve as executive producers. For Science Channel Neil Laird and Rocky Collins serve as executive producers and Lindsey Foster Blumberg is producer. Bernadette McDaid is vice president of production for Science Channel.

14 Apr

3D Printed Shelby Cobra Is A Stunner

Imagine a world where you could order every detail you ever wanted from a car online and have it 3D printed to your specifications. Or, where once very rare cars are replicated via 3D printing for a new generation.

The 3D printed car is here. The first model, the Strati was a little rough around the edges, but it didn’t take long for the developers to raise the bar and re-create a 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 in honor of its 50th anniversary this January. The printed Cobra was definitely finished to be a stunner.

The car is a collaboration of many companies. The 3D chassis and electric motor came courtesy of the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). They used their Big Area Additive Manufacturing printer, which can print single pieces in sizes greater than one cubic meter – and in this case they used a composite that included 20 percent carbon fiber.

The 3D-Printed Cobra took just six weeks to complete, though the printing itself only took about 24 hours. The signature Cobra sleek blue and white finish was the work of Knoxville, Tennessee-based company Tru-Design that specializes in carbon fiber and fiberglass.


With such a gorgeous and speedy end result it’s easy to see what ORNL is trying to innovate. The idea is that with 3D printing the manufacturing process can be done on a large and rapid scale. The 3D-Cobra is proof that something as large as a car, needing both style and durability can be created with 3D printers and may one day change the automotive industry and perhaps have an impact on the environment.

The team that worked on the car has dubbed it a “laboratory on wheels.”

As the ORNL team works to take the process of 3D printed cars to the next level, the shift could change many things – concept cars could more easily come to fruition. Rare models could be replicated. Even better, your daily ride could be customized to you. It’s an interesting future to contemplate.

If you live or are visiting in the Washington DC area now, you can see the 3D Shelby in the lobby of the Department of Energy. You can follow its progress on Twitter via #3DPrintedCar.

16890712818_c0378dc345_z 16456045944_7647f55950_z

















Department of Energy




9 Apr

Unique Problem Solvers

Sometimes HOW IT’S MADE covers some pretty unique items. They range from the often every day item that makes our life easier, to the out of this world items that fascinate us. The of items all do one thing – solve some of life’s problems.

Humans have always faced problems, but from the start we figured out ways around them. In the beginning, our most immediate problems were finding food and shelter, and thus manufacturing began. Creating flint arrows and stone axes were the solution, and clusters of humanity began the refining the quality and speed with which the items were made.

As humankind has progressed, so have the incredible challenges and needs we’ve faced. How do we build villages and communities? How do we create more food to feed the population? How do we create items that signify value of things we possess? The answer is simple – look for the basic tools and resources around you and then build upon them to make them fit the ever-changing needs of society. The inspiration to create has always been there, but in the early days the scale of mass manufacturing was simply not possible.

With the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700’s it slowly became possible to move from creating bespoke items that met our needs to producing on a grand scale. The invention of the steam engine and eventually harnessing electricity allowed for us to create massive factories and to move the products and resources around in a way that changed our lives forever. The bigger problem of how do you actually make the things that make our lives better was finally able to go wide.

If you’ve grown up in the 20th century you have the confidence of having most products that solve your problems at your fingertips. Hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, cell phones, ATMs, Wi-Fi – they are all things we take for granted and yet we shouldn’t forget that these great ideas needed to be perfected and executed to make it into our homes. We’ve come a long way from the manufacturing technology of the 1700’s; we have robotic production lines, computers, advanced equipment, easier access to resources, and advanced transportation that are entirely focused on the logistics of making things and making them for the masses.

In this world we have the luxury of looking a little problem like “How can I avoiding hauling my heavy luggage through the airport?” and solutions like rolling luggage is invented and now produced on a mass level. We have the ability to take problems like how to create energy when our primary sources go down? Stand-by generators are now a given in places like hospitals where loss of electricity could literally be life or death for patients. And there are the problems we never thought we’d face, like “How do you write in zero gravity where the ink can’t flow? Even in 1920, the idea of going to space, much less living in it was a fantasy and yet humans have advanced and adapted to make their ideas happen, and on a big scale.

Around here at Science Channel we love seeing behind that curtain of how items are made, parts upon parts, pieced together to make something we take for granted or can’t live without. We can look back to the foundation of how items are made into the future as makers, manufacturers and big ideas keep creating amazing items that take us to the next level.

Who among us wouldn’t want to know how a bionic arm is made? Or space planes? Or 3-D printed cars? These lists of challenges we have to overcome will never end, nor will the process and logistics of making items. We can’t wait to see technology advance and future play out in HOW IT'S MADE!

HOW IT'S MADE airs Thursdays, 9p.

1 Apr

Introducing Math Channel, Coming To A TV Screen Near You On April 31

Prep your parabolas, ready your ratios and start thinking about symmetry...

The brains behind the Science Channel are pleased to announce our new sister network, Math Channel, coming to a television screen near you on April 31.

Answer Everything.

28 Mar

'Star Wars' Behind-the-Scenes Photos Make Friday More Fun

It's Friday. It's spring. We've all earned a little levity.

Ever since Star Wars joined Instagram with a Darth Vader selfie back in December 2013, the franchise has been populating its page with a plethora of behind-the-scenes photos.

From a 'Han-some' Han Solo

to some sibling bonding

and C-3PO out of costume,

Star Wars has made us smile on Instagram since day one.

We even got a look at Indiana, George Lucas' dog and the inspiration for Chewbacca

and discovered that Darth Vader's helmet isn't nearly so scary without the imposing voice behind it.

Meet Darth Vader's stunt double:

So sweet.


Does this inspire you to build a lightsaber? Check it out:

For more Star Wars fun, watch all of your favorite characters kick up their heels to Pharrell's "Happy" over on SCI2.

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook.

10 Mar

Behind-The-Scenes At SXSW: What Really Happened At I F---ing Love Science Channel

If you didn't make it to SXSW Interactive this year or you attended SXSW but didn't come to the I F---ing Love Science Channel party (and why not?!), don't worry. We've got you covered with some of our favorite photos from the night so that even if you weren't there, you can pretend you were a VIP guest.

Basically, we are all now best friends with Bill Nye.

(Oh, and in case you missed our HUGE new show news, check it out here.)

Presenting I F---ing Love Science Channel: The Recap.


The gang's all here: Kari Byron, Elise Andrew, Bill Nye, Eugene Mirman, Hakeem Oluseyi and Tory Belleci


Kari tests liquid nitrogen before the show

We can all agree that "the Elvis of Science" is the perfect nickname for Bill Nye, right?

And, in case you missed the exclusive new show news:

More on that here!

If you attended I F---ing Love Science Channel, we'd love to hear about your experience!

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

about the blog

Welcome to the inSCIder, where you can connect with the people who bring Science Channel to life. Find out what's in the works here at SCIENCE, share your feedback with the team and see what's getting our attention online and in the news.





stay connected

our sites