Space, Science, and Speculation at Dragon Con

A concentrated mass of geekery is descending on Atlanta for the long weekend, and I'm showing up to do my part. From deliciously doom-filled panels to partaking in PowerPoint Karaoke, here's where I'll be for Dragon Con.

This year is going to be a delightful mess of science, speculation and Stargate! I'll be doing at least one event every day, with seven panels and a game show crammed into the long weekend. You can also find my whole schedule in the official convention guide, or by looking me up in the Presenters section of the Dragon Con app. If you're at the convention, I'd love to meet you! ...even if I will probably lose my voice and be croaking wistfully by Monday morning.

The Weird Science of Hollywood

Friday 4:00 pm at Marriot A601-A602 (Atrium level)

The big screen shows a lot of bad science due to budget constraints, lack of knowledge, or sometimes to improve the story.

Kevin Grazier, Stephen Cass, Mika McKinnon, Trevor Valle

Ever wonder what it's like to actually work as a science consultant? Here's your chance to find out from people who regularly work in the industry.

Between consulting for movies, Kevin and Stephen just finished a book on the science of Hollywood. Trevor has worked on numerous documentaries, and of course, I spent so much time with Stargate that they gave me my own chunk of the set to scribble on. This panel should be a healthy dose of storytime, with a side-helping of why getting good science in entertainment is good for both science and entertainment. In anticipation of this being a popular panel, they've got us in one of the massive ballrooms rooms, not the regular Science track room.

A Practical Guide to the End of the World

Friday 7:00pm at Hilton 202 (Science track room)

Earthquakes, diseases, asteroid strikes, solar flares: the universe is trying to kill us, but this discussion separates disaster fact from fiction.

with Mika McKinnon, Ben Davis, John Cmar, Tedd Roberts, Jyotika Virmani

This panel should be deliciously doomy. Jyotika works with storms and floods, while I've got landslides, earthquakes, and all the other ways the planet is trying to kill us covered. Tedd works in neurology and John is all over infectious disease: it's going to be plagues, plagues, and more plagues that could ravage humanity. Finally, Ben will bring on the astrophysical catastrophes, with a bit of help from me drawing on my early research roots on the beginning and end of the universe.

You ever wanted to know how likely a disaster scenario was? Working on a story idea and what your heroes to struggle with something that could plausibly murder them? Tired of using zombies as your disaster-preparation scenario and want something new to have nightmares about? You know I'm going to have a hard time keeping my glee in check for this panel.

They Blinded Me with... Naquadah

Saturday 1:00pm at Westin Chastain HIJ (Stargate Multiverse track room)

Come and discuss the potential reality of gate travel and all things science with our own professional guests!

with Mika McKinnon, Scott Viguie

Of all the panels I participate on at Dragon Con, the ones with the Stargate track are always the most relaxed, with a lot of panel-audience interaction.

This year's theme is to explore the chemistry of Stargate's fictional geology, speculating on which known elements best resemble super-dense naquadah. If you like to delve into hardcore geekery with your fiction, this is the place to be. It's also a good place to get me storytelling about working on the sets of Stargate: Åtlantis and Stargate: Universe.

Practical Time Travel

Saturday 4:00pm at Westin Augusta 1-2 (Alternate History track room)

The science and real theories behind time travel and a survey of time travel in speculative fiction and media.

with Mika McKinnon, Dr. Nicole Gugliucci, Harry Turtledove, Stephanie Osborn

What happens when you take a bunch of hardcore scifi geeks and send them to school for decades learning everything they can about mathematics, physics, astrophysics, and string theory?

You get an amazing panel of experts to play with their favourite scenarios where time travel could be possible, plausible, or even feasible. What would a wormhole actually look like? How has the theory developed since a physicist first worked out the equations when helping make Contact plausible? Playing with science is one of the best parts of working in the entertainment industry, and this panel is where we get to be full-on fanciful with exploring the directionality of time.

Ask a Scientist

Sunday 1:00pm at Sheraton Atlanta

You've got science questions? We've got science answers! Expert scientists explain anything you want to know about science.

with Mika McKinnon, John Cmar, Pamela Gay, Raychelle Burks, David Shiffman, Stephen Granade

Not everyone has access to a scientist in their day-to-day lives, so we've gathered up a heap of them from a variety of fields to tackle all those lingering questions.

Why is the sky blue while sunsets are red? What's the deal with the Earth's magnetic field flipping? Was anything from Shark Week true? It's going to be a live-action version of this fantastic thread, with even more scientist to cover a broader range of topics. Bring your curiosity, or come along to learn from the curiosity of others. In anticipation of this being a popular panel, they've got us in one of the bigger ballrooms.

Science is Stranger than Fiction

Sunday 5:30pm at Hilton 202 (Science track room)

Explore some of the latest, and in some cases strangest, scientific theories that are dying to find their way into science fiction.

with Mika McKinnon, Ariel Waldman, Annalee Newitz, David Shiffman, Tedd Roberts, Lauren Vogelbaum

The universe is a beautiful and bizarre place. So much of what we know is even stranger than the things people make up for movies and television. How on Earth is the star nosed mole a real thing and not an alien critter? What would it be like to visit some of the ridiculous exoplanets Kepler has discovered?

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This is our chance to gossip with you about the crazy things we've learned or discovered that that are just dying to find their way into a story sometime. This is also your chance for extra io9 goodness, with Annalee joining the panel along with previous guest-writers from the site.

The Solve for X Science Show

Sunday 10pm at Hilton Grand Ballroom East

Puppet show, PowerPoint karaoke, quiz game, storytelling: the scientists are loose, and nobody knows what could happen next.

I'm not even going to try to list everyone who will be coming on stage to entertain you; check out the full lineup here. Between comedy performances, songs, sketches and more, it's going to be a fantastic night.

I'll be completing in PowerPoint karaoke, improvising blind off a slide deck that has nothing to do with anything I know. With 8 slides to cover in just 3 minutes, it's going to be a rapid-fire talk of tangentially-related science and plumbing the depths of the bizarre science trivia gathered over the years. Will I successfully baffle you with bullshit, or be outdone by the other contestants' epic efforts? Either way, this is the event I'm most excited simultaneously terrified about.

The Best News That Wasn't

Monday 11:30am in Hilton 309-310 (Space track room)

Astronomical discoveries announced in the past year that turned out to be wrong.

with Mika McKinnon, Dr. Roy Kilgard

We all get excited over new discoveries, but sometimes they're later disproved. We'll be going over the ideas that entered with a bang and went out with a fizzle, and exploring how the scientific process incrementally expands what we really know about our universe. This will also be a good chance for asking questions about why some of these stories were such a big deal, and why some stories seem to keep popping back up every couple of years.

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That's it for my official schedule, although I have been known to accidentally drop in on additional panels in years past. I'll also be running around collecting interviews with interesting science people to share with you later, and attending talks by some of the people I find downright fascinating. If you do see me, please introduce yourself and say hello!