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    "Burn Notice" Wants To Give You $10K To Do Science
    By Hank Campbell | November 28th 2012 07:08 PM | 2 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

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    A few years ago, my wife had a milestone birthday and decided she wanted to run a marathon.  Now, I don't even like to drive 26 miles much less run that far - that Greek guy is famous because he died doing it and there are some experiments I don't need to replicate in order for them to have my full acceptance.

    But my wife wanted to do it. I had never seen her so much as walk fast but she signed up with a group called Team In Training and off she went (1) - they have various morale-building events, including dinners, and at one of those I met a fellow marathon husband and he said, "You kind of look like that guy on "Burn Notice".

    He meant the lead actor, the former spy, it turns out. I had never watched "Burn Notice" and when I looked it up later, I didn't see any resemblance but it is no surprise that people psychologically latch onto the familiar as a way of establishing a mnemonic memory hook.  But I did notice that one of the co-stars was Bruce Campbell. It wouldn't have been so bad to be confused with him.  

    I was never a horror movie guy, though I was always impressed by the special effects technology(2).  However, I saw him in "Army of Darkness" in 1992, which is the perfect horror movie for people who do not like horror movies.  It was basically a sequel to the "Evil Dead" movie(s) he made with his pal Sam Raimi, who later became famous directing "Spider-Man".

    In "Army of Darkness", the trunk of Ash's yellow 1973 Delta 88 Oldsmobile Classic (3) is opened and we find, among what would be considered more ordinary items like jumper cables, a copy of "Steam-Plant Operation, Fifth Edition", "Chemistry 101" by Bernard Garnett and an issue of "Fangoria" magazine. Really, science and a shotgun are all you need to defeat a medieval army of the undead, we can all agree on that.  His inherent wisdom was so obvious when I saw the thousandth one of those "Facebook" thingies asking you to describe yourself in terms of what famous X you would be, I finally created a graphic to save some time:


    See?  One of those face recognition things said I looked like the guy from "Firefly" but I Forrest Gump my way through life more like Ash from "Army of Darkness" - my Isaac Newton aspects are obvious.

    So I was hooked on Bruce and his humor. I own "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr." and the "Jack of All Trades" DVDs but I had missed the "Burn Notice" thing. Now I have a new reason to watch - it seems they love science and science outreach.

    The show and the USA Network it appears on are offering $10,000 prizes to enterprising STEM students of high school age who come up with creative ways to solve challenges the characters on the show might run across, like covert communications or surveillance.  Like "Macgyver", but in the real world.  There are three challenges in all.

    Grand prize winners get a $10K scholarship, they get to meet the cast and crew of "Burn Notice" and also get a mention on the USA Network. 

    Bruce Campbell is a science nerd of impeccable street cred so $10K is nice but, if you read this and go on to win, thank me for giving you the opportunity to make his acquaintance. It is one of very few times where I will encourage you to meet the old guy on a TV show rather than the hot girl.  Make sure you get him to wear a Science 2.0 shirt.

    NOTES:

    (1) You have to raise money for leukemia research - or write a check for it if you don't do fundraisers - but as an outsider watching their support and dedication, it's hard to imagine anyone doing a better job of turning couch potatoes into people who can go 26 miles without quitting.

    (2) Want to simulate a gunshot wound? Here is how to do it, courtesy of "Dawn Of The Dead" and "Friday The 13th" creative guru Tom Savini.
     
    (3) It appears in all Sam Raimi movies.  In "Spider-Man" it is the car Uncle Ben drives.  Bruce Campbell also makes an appearance as the guy who dubs Peter Parker "Spider-Man".

    Comments

    Hi Hank,

    Unable to reply to your 11/20 comment on T Dorigo blog RE: 3 branch control, redistricting; but think this important.

    Actually democrats controlled President, Senate and House from 2008-2010.

    I recall CA as a liberal state, one of many losing electoral votes to southern states, tending to be conservative except for Florida during national redistricting.

    Hank
    Hi Doug,

    They controlled the House and the Presidency in 1993 and the project was canceled because the $4.4 billion estimate of 1987, when Reagan approved it, had ballooned to $12 billion and it was still only a hole in the ground. The sponsor of the legislation was Rep. Jim Slattery, a Democrat, and Pres. Clinton made only token pleas to keep it going.  It is still the case today the Congress does not trust estimates from physicists because of it (and astronomy will soon have the same problem, thanks to the James Webb Space Telescope).

    Not sure what you mean about California being conservative?  Redistricting here took the 36% that are Republicans and put them in 20% of the Congressional districts, so California is more liberal in Congress than it was even 2 years ago. That's fine, it's what Californians want, but the demographic split may be a problem geographically soon.  People in states where they can't get jobs due to a negative business climate will likely go to places they can get jobs. 24/7 Wall St results show that of the top 5 best run states, 4 are mostly 'red' voters, while among the worst 5 states, 4 are 'blue'.