Mythbusters: MacGyver Myths,The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Trek. These popular movies and television show have something in common–but what is it?
Each relies heavily on some form of illusion to tell a story. No matter what medium is used, special effects of varying types are a big part of today’s entertainment. Especially in the film industry, what looks to most people like cinematic magic is often entirely explainable, be it huge explosions, snowy sets, creepy makeup and the like.
On Mythbusters, the cast frequently employs various chemical reactions to figure out what’s real and what’s not. On their 100th episode, they tackled television’s MacGyver by attempting to blow a hole in a wall with pure sodium metal dropped into water and they also tried to develop film using common kitchen liquids.
Snow can be created entirely artificially. Snow Business is an award-winning United Kingdom–based company that uses several methods to create the illusion of snowy sets via processes that are chemically dependent.
In sci-fi movies like Star Trek, actors are typically outfitted with extensively detailed life-like masks designed to dramatically transform their appearance. These masks are made of latex, which is derived from rubber that is harvested from trees. Because environmental conditions can affect its quality, it needs to undergo several chemical processes to ensure that the workability of the final latex material remains consistent.
The science behind this fun, intriguing and harmless type of deception is the topic addressed by this year’s National Chemistry Week, scheduled to take place October 17-23, 2010.
A DEEPER LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES
Sponsored by the American Chemical Society (ACS), National Chemistry Week is a community-based outreach program that unites ACS local sections with schools, businesses and individuals to emphasize the importance of chemistry in everyday life. The focus has traditionally been toward elementary and secondary school students; however, colleges and universities do get involved, often providing programs for younger students.
Events are held on both national and local levels and are centered on ideas presented by ACS.
This year’s theme “Behind the Scenes with Chemistry!” was chosen to help students learn that often what looks like magic or trickery is really a good example of chemistry in use. Events suggested by ACS include the following:
Originally Published in Headline Discoveries