On April 2nd 2019, BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode II took place at the Aula Auditorium at TU Delft. The focus was on genetic engineering, CRISPR/Cas9, and Jessica Jones.
In this second post-podcast for the event, you’ll hear from two more speakers from the live event. Britte Bouchaut is a PhD student in Biotechnology and Society at TU Delft, and Lucas Evers is based at Waag Amsterdam where he runs the Open WetLab. In conversation with host Barry Fitzgerald, Britte and Lucas discuss bioethics, bioart, genetic engineering, their own work, and of course superheroes.
You can also watch BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode II from April 2nd 2019 online, including Charlotte’s talk, at the link: https://youtu.be/D5yCGhVgV9Q.
BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science is organised by Studium Generale Delft (Twitter: @sgtudelft) and BW Science. It is hosted by superhero scientist and TU Delft researcher Barry Fitzgerald (Twitter: @BWScienceNow).
A preview of BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode II, which takes place at the Aula Auditorium on the TU Delft campus on Tuesday April 2nd 2019 from 19.30 – 21.00.
The focus of Episode II is genetic engineering and the main characters to be discussed during the event are Jessica Jones and the X-Men.
The podcast includes details of the speakers, the superheroes and superpower of interest, and some study suggestions in terms of Netflix superhero series.
BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science is organised by Studium Generale Delft and BW Science, and is hosted by superhero scientist and TU Delft researcher Barry Fitzgerald (Twitter: @BWScienceNow).
At this very moment in time, I am sitting in my hotel in Seattle about to set out and explore the city. I arrived here yesterday afternoon after a two-day roadtrip from San Francisco via the beautiful coast of the state of Oregon. In the middle of my roadtrip the latest trailer for Avengers: Infinity War was released to much fanfare and appraisal. While some contend that too much has been revealed in the trailer, most people have been invigorated with enthusiasm for the upcoming film release.
Avengers: Infinity War will pit the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Ant-Man (I hope) against the mad titan Thanos, who is hellbent on acquiring the Infinity stones so that he may “balance the universe”. To balance the universe he intends to wipe out half of all the inhabitants of the universe, which means half of planet Earth.
The trailer reveals a lot, including the last stand of the Avengers in Wakanda. In addition there is a nod towards potential deaths in the trailer, with Iron Man and Captain America both in one-on-one combat with Thanos near the end of the trailer.
However, both Ant-Man and Hawkeye are notably missing from the trailer. I have feeling that this is intentional. If not, then they play no major part in the film, which is a shame considering they are two great characters.
Nonetheless, Avengers: Infinity War is sure to be a big hit when it is released next month. The posters and the billboards are making their appearances in the US already and the excitement over the film is climbing towards fever pitch.
I plan to write further on Infinity War over the coming weeks, so stayed tuned for further thoughts and blog posts.
In February I was asked to speak as part of a public debate/discussion at Spui 25, the academic and cultural podium in Amsterdam. The date for been set for June 12th and I’m very much looking forward to speaking at the event. As part of the event I’ve written a short text motivating the talk/discussion. You can check it out here. It’ll give you a general idea of what will be spoken about at the event. If you’re in Amsterdam on June 12th it would be great to see you there.
We find ourselves in the middle of a cinematic superhero revolution that shows no signs of abating. Superhero films are big business, as demonstrated by their box office receipts. For example the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War became the 12th highest grossing film of all time when it made more than $1.1 billion dollars at the worldwide box office. By the year 2020 we will see the release of 25 (or more) superhero films. The superhero genre is very much here to stay.
One of the driving forces behind the success of the superhero film is the escapism it provides to a fictitious world jam-packed with people possessing superpowers that are seemingly beyond the real world. Invariably many of the audience have, at one time or another, envisaged having a superpower of some sort be it an Iron Man suit, the regenerative healing powers of Wolverine or Deadpool, the power of invisibility possessed by Sue Storm or the ability to shrink like Ant-Man. Superpowers would allow us to do things we do not normally see on an daily basis.
Thanks to modern scientific and engineering research, the superpowers of the superheroes may no longer be reserved for cinema. Humanity stands on the cusp of a superpower future with scientists and engineers working on some astounding research projects that could produce superpower technology as a viable spin-off. For example, thanks to advanced genetic editing techniques like the CRISPR/Cas system, in the future we could bioengineer some of the X-Men characters. A number inventors and engineers are developing technologies to mimic a flying Iron Man suit while other researchers have turned to graphene or spider silk to create advanced bullet-proof materials. Thanks to these technological endeavours we could see superpower technologies sooner rather than later.
Before superpowers can be introduced into society though we must ensure that laws, policies or protocols are put in place to safeguard society. We need to introduce these technologies in a safe manner and accurately assess their impact before their introduction. In Captain America: Civil War the United Nations introduces a set of accords to monitor or control superpower activity after a number of events around the world lead to significant collateral damage. This is a case of the “cart before the horse”. Many may contend that the manner of the introduction of the accords is contentious. But the film does provide a valuable lesson that can be applied to not only superpower technologies but also future technological advancements. We must predict, to the best of our ability, the implications of superpowers or new technologies on society. In addition they should be introduced in a manner that facilitates both integration with society and easy adaptations. Undoubtedly there will be ethical hurdles on our path to superpowers and these should be met with the respect that they merit. Nonetheless cautious progressions could in many ways hinder the development of society, and as a result delay the superpower/superhero era.
Are you ready for a superpower future?
Are you ready for the great power and great responsibility?
Are you ready to unlock the Secrets of Superhero Science?