Jennifer Ouellette Reveals the Science Behind Vampires, Zombies, and Death Rays in Episode 30 of The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy

Jennifer Ouellette, author of The Calculus Diaries and The Physics of the Buffyverse, joins us this week on io9's Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast to discuss cocktail party physics and being a science consultant to Hollywood.

The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy is hosted by John Joseph Adams and David Barr Kirtley.


You can download the MP3 for this episode here, subscribe to The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast feed here, and browse other episodes here.

Read on for this episode's fabulous SHOW NOTES!

0:00 Introduction

Interview: Jennifer Ouellette

1:37 Interview begins

1:42 How did Ouellette get interested in Science Fiction and Fantasy? A love born from Horror?

2:43 Quantum mechanics and the unreliability of What the Bleep Do We Know!?

3:48 The Science Fiction and reality of Nikola Tesla

5:31 "Did he look like David Bowie?"

6:03 Tesla's rivalry with Thomas Edison

7:07 The Physics of the Buffyverse

8:10 Was Ouellette inspired by The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence Krauss?

9:16 The ins-and-outs of vampire physiology

10:55 The Science and Entertainment Exchange

13:01 An example of how the Science and Entertainment Exchange has influenced popular movies and television series


15:00 Upcoming Science Fiction and Fantasy movies

15:44 Conventions and Cosplay

16:36 What do books and movies get wrong about martial arts?

18:12 The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse


20:26 What can calculus teach us about the zombie apocalypse?

21:38 What can World of Warcraft teach us about infectious disease?

24:48 What's it like being married to a physicist?

26:26 Did gambling drive the development of math?

27:22 Winnie from The Wonder Years teaches math to little girls

28:49 Ouellette's blog, Cocktail Party Physics

31:12 Any recent or upcoming projects from Ouellette?

31:36 End of interview

Dave and John talk about the role of Television in Science Fiction

32:53 Are Science Fiction novelists embarrassed by the Science Fiction on television?


34:37 Dave's new hygienist loves Star Trek. Doesn't everyone?

35:25 Has the move from episodic story-telling improved Science Fiction on television?


35:49 Shaggy dog stories on television. Lost, BSG, we're looking at you!

38:45 Whatever happened to Ana Lucia?

40:22 Spoiler Warning! We're gonna talk about the ending of Lost and Battlestar Gallactica


44:35 Okay Lost and BSG spoilers are done!

44:37 Hey, writer. That scene's too expensive, rewrite it!

46:32 Is there any good Science Fiction on television anymore?

47:29 Do actors get in the way of the characters?

48:54 Should the savvy actor just embrace geek culture?

50:08 John gives Hilary Swank a free pass for The Core

51:11 Is television Science Fiction too "Hollywood"?

52:35 Why do so many SF television shows start so strong but end so poorly?

54:00 The revival of The Twilight Zone

57:17 Will the "anthology"-style television show ever make a comeback?

58:32 John talks about Sliders

1:00:42 Did Sliders rip-off George R.R. Martin?

1:01:19 The Outer Limits

1:03:29 Save your favorite TV show before it's too late!

1:04:32 Announcements!

1:05:58 Show wrap-up

Thanks for listening!


John Joseph Adams is an anthologist, a writer, and a geek. He is the bestselling editor of the anthologies By Blood We Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Living Dead (a World Fantasy Award finalist), Seeds of Change, andWastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse. His most recent books are The Living Dead 2 and The Way of the Wizard, and he is currently assembling several other anthologies, including Brave New Worlds and The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination. Barnes & named him "the reigning king of the anthology world," and his books have been named to numerous best of the year lists. In addition to his anthology work, he worked for more than eight years as an editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction,and is currently the editor of Lightspeed Magazine and Fantasy Magazine.


David Barr Kirtley has published fiction in magazines such as Realms of Fantasy, Weird Tales, Lightspeed,Intergalactic Medicine Show, On Spec, and Cicada, and in anthologies such as New Voices in Science Fiction,Fantasy: The Best of the Year, and The Dragon Done It. Recently he's contributed stories to several of John's anthologies, including The Living Dead, The Living Dead 2, and The Way of the Wizard. He's attended numerous writing workshops, including Clarion, Odyssey, Viable Paradise, James Gunn's Center for the Study of Science Fiction, and Orson Scott Card's Writers Bootcamp, and he holds an MFA in screenwriting and fiction from the University of Southern California. He also teaches regularly at Alpha, a Pittsburgh-area science fiction workshop for young writers. He lives in New York.

Snownotes compiled by podtern Aidan Moher

Friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. If you enjoy the show, please consider making a donation via PayPal.


Share This Story

Get our newsletter