Around the Pier: Scripps Scientists Bring the Science to Science Fiction at Comic-Con


Can megalodon sharks exist today? Probably not. Do extremophile organisms still hang out in Antarctica? Definitely. Can you help make a marine biologist character in a screenplay more believable? No problem.


For the second year, scientists took part in a San Diego Comic-Con International panel to discuss how science fiction inspires scientific innovation and how science can spur the imagination of fiction writers.


The “More Science in your Fiction” panel–which drew an audience of more than 100–included scientists Bethany Kolody, Benjamin Frable, and Angela Zoumplis of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego and was organized in collaboration with the League of Extraordinary Scientists and Engineers, a science education and outreach organization.


The July 19 panel consisted of ten researchers from various disciplines who gathered to discuss how their field is represented through science fiction. Popular questions discussed on this panel included “What movie do you think does the best at representing your field?” and “What are some scientific misconceptions perpetuated by popular media?” The questioners in the audience ranged from a geologist to a script writer to a group of elementary school kids, Frable said.


This was the second year Frable and Zoumplis spoke on a Comic-Con panel. Frable is a marine biologist at Scripps with a special interest in ichthyology, the branch of zoology that studies fish. Zoumplis is an explorer of extremophiles, microorganisms that live in extreme conditions. She works as a research fellow with the National Science Foundation and is working toward her PhD at Scripps. Kolody is a deep ocean genomics explorer and PhD student at Scripps.


"We covered everything from nanoparticle engineering to deep sea creatures and astrobiology," said Zoumplis. "It was a really cool experience to take super interesting questions from Comic-Con goers and also to sit next to such a diverse group of experts and hear fascinating stories about their science."


- Shawndiz Hazegh and Robert Monroe

Sign Up For
Explorations Now

explorations now is the free award-winning digital science magazine from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Join subscribers from around the world and keep up on our cutting-edge research.