Is There Intelligent Life Out There?

The Endeavor shuttle, now moth-balled at the CA Science Museum in LA. I love the idea of space travel! Gravity plating, warp drive, transporter devices… who wouldn’t step onto the Prometheus or the Enterprise in a second? Of course, the reality is different. Astronauts who spend any significant time in space often experience bone loss and loss of muscle tone. Most disturbingly, the heart seems to get weaker and smaller. So that’s why I prefer the sci-fi version of space travel. Beam me up! Or wait… if Whitley Streiber is right, they may already have… what do you think? Is … Read more

Naming Hurricanes

This week’s post comes to you courtesy of – and funny video about naming hurricanes. Go to

BioArt: Drawing Attention to Biotech

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a great Leonardo Art-Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) at UC Berkeley. These events feature 4 20-minute presentations by 4 different artists and/or scientists. At the UCB event, one of the presenters talked about bioart. That’s art that is made from living tissues or one-celled organisms. The artists literally grow the art, shaping it as it develops. Sorta like landscaping, but with bacteria. Very tiny landscaping. Anyway, SymbioticA in Australia does some very funky work in this area, like these worry dolls: Why create objects from living tissue or organisms? Artists have always drawn … Read more

Nationalized, Legalized Gay-Bashing: A Chilling Effect on Creativity and Innovation

As you know, I’m very interested in the intersections between art and science.  I’m also passionate about social justice.  Today, I’m thinking about the relationship between social justice and creativity. Russia may need to re-think its harsh and punitive anti-gay policies, not only because they are obvious human rights violations, but also because, ultimately, they are creating a country that will keep lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of innovation. What Type of Countries Are the Most Innovative? There are many surveys of creativity and innovation. None of them lists Russia in the top 10 most creative … Read more

Alan Alda and Communicating Science

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be working with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science (! I heard about them in early May.  Apparently, about 5 years, Alan Alda, started teaching improv to scientists.  It was the only acting training he’d ever taken!  It had helped him be relaxed and personable in front of the camera.  He wanted to know whether it would work for scientists, too… and it does! A whole program has developed around this.  They are based in SUNY, Stony Brook (Long Island).  Both the Journalism and the Theatre departments are involves.  The SUNY SB head … Read more

Fie, Fie, Phi!

I’ve been thinking about consciousness lately.  I gave the book, Phi, A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul by Giulio Tononi, to one of my nerd friends for Hanukkah.  Christmas.  Solstice?  Well.  Is there a December holiday for formerly Jewish, formerly Christian atheists?  Festivus?  Whatever, I gave it to him in December!  Anyway, I figured we’d both love it, since it’s a science book with loads of art and poetry, so I gave myself a copy too.  For Solstice.   (The most Earth-centered and ancient of December holidays!) Phi (which Tononi says means “integrated information”) follows Galileo on an imaginary … Read more

Climate Change: Reality!

I went to Al Gore’s Climate Reality training this week. It was a train-the-trainer; I can now give his presentation. There were over 1,000 other folks from all over the world receiving this training this week. It was really inspirational! We can DO this! And yet… learning the latest about what we’ve done to the earth was really hard. It was devastating to get all the detailed scientific information about what’s going on. We Need New Words For Grief It happened the first time I read the details about global warming, and it happened again this week. The reality of … Read more

JJ ScienceZap!

This is the first episode of my new science news series, JJ ScienceZap!  You’ll get a short report on the weird, the funny and the bizarre in science news.  Enjoy!

Blast From the Past!

This is a couple of videos I did for the SF LGBT Film Festival – aren’t they fun??

The Two Cultures Collide

I’m a writer/actor comedian with a passion for science. It started one year when I was doing summer theatre in Santa Rosa, CA. I was going to read Michel Foucault. I think it was “Madness and Civilization.” When I told a friend, he rolled his eyes and said, “Right, the post-modernists. They’ve deconstructed everything; everything is in pieces scattered on the floor. But where are we going now?” Hmmmm… good question… I thought that was a great question. So I picked up an old copy of “The Dancing Wu Li Masters”, an early book on quantum physics. Cool stuff! I … Read more

How does it “get better”??

The “It Gets Better” video campaign has been both inspiring and infuriating for many of us. What’s great is that it shows that LGBT folks who have a hard time in high school and beyond can overcome these difficulties and create a life they love. But what’s not so great is that oppression is not a one-point program – meaning, if you’re a gay, white, middle class man, then ya, it’ll get better for you pretty quickly. Being gay didn’t erase your other privileges, so you’ll have access to resources to improve your situation. Recently, I went to a marriage … Read more