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Virginia Bioinformatics Institute to illuminate role of science in movies, television at 'USA Science & Engineering Festival' April 28 and 29

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 25, 2012 – When you watch television or movies, you don’t have to look hard to see science on the screen. It’s in the high-tech gadgets used to analyze crime scene evidence, the simulations that show how an alien disease will spread, and phenomenal fires and car chases. In the movies, science is everywhere. But, have you ever wondered how Hollywood gets it right?

Individuals and families can learn about the science behind Hollywood’s crime dramas, superhero feats, medical shows, and special effects at the USA Science & Engineering Festival. Hosted by Lockheed Martin, this is the nation’s largest celebration of science and engineering. The event takes place April 28 and 29 in Washington, D.C., at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The festival will feature exhibits, performances and appearances by scientists and organizations that work closely with Hollywood film and TV producers to make sure that they are portraying science and engineering realistically.

Participants will have the opportunity to experience the science of the movies up close, including a simulation of the rapid spread of the H1N1 virus through the Walter E. Washington Convention Center – similar to the epidemic in the movie "Contagion" – using bar code and Quick Response (QR) tags as a surrogate for the virus, at an exhibit by the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech.

The USA Science & Engineering Festival will also feature leading science celebrities like Bill Nye of "Bill Nye the Science Guy." Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage of the "MythBusters" will appear live during the finale expo. Also scheduled to appear are Jeff Lieberman from Discovery Channel’s series "Time Warp" and Apollo Robbins, who is known as the "gentleman thief," from National Geographic’s "Brain Games."

The USA Science & Engineering Festival is the country’s only national science festival, and was developed to increase public awareness of the importance of science and to encourage youth to pursue careers in science and engineering by celebrating science in much the same way as we celebrate Hollywood celebrities, professional athletes, and pop stars.

Lockheed Martin is joined by many other festival sponsors and partners. The USA Science & Engineering Festival is a grassroots collaboration of over 500 of the United States leading science and engineering organizations. 

The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute was established in 2000 with an emphasis on informatics of complex interacting systems scaling the microbiome to the entire globe. It helps solve challenges posed to human health, security, and sustainability. Headquartered at the Blacksburg campus, the institute occupies 154,600 square feet in research facilities, including state-of-the-art core laboratory and high-performance computing facilities, as well as research offices in the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington, Virginia.