SCIENCE FAIR

WHERE SCIENCE MEETS SCIENCE FICTION

Awesome Con proudly dedicates a special area of our show floor to all things science! Celebrating sci-fi, technology, engineering, aerospace, astronomy, and much more, The Awesome Con Science Fair is not only tons of fun—it’s educational too!

A popular feature year after year, fans can explore how science influences their favorite comics, films, and TV shows, discover new technologies from scientific companies, governmental agencies, and non-profit organizations, and learn about incredible career opportunities in science and tech that could allow them to become a real-life Tony Stark or Bruce Banner.

SCIENCE FAIR GUEST OF HONOR

ADAM SAVAGE (Appearing Friday – Sunday) Adam has spent his life gathering skills that allow him to take what’s in his brain and make it real. He’s built everything from ancient Buddhas and futuristic weapons to fine-art sculptures and dancing vegetables.

In 2002, Adam was chosen along with Jamie Hyneman to host MythBusters, which premiered on Discovery Channel in January 2003. Fourteen years, 1,015 myths, 2,950 experiments, eight Emmy nominations, and 83 miles of duct tape later, the series ended in March 2016.

Today, Adam stars in and produces content for Tested.com, including behind-the-scenes dives into multiple blockbuster films (including Ghost in the Shell, Alien Covenant, and Blade Runner). He also produces and stars in his “Brain Candy” stage show with Vsauce’s Michael Stevens.

SCIENCE FAIR EXHIBITORS

SCIENCE FAIR PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE

FRIDAY

  • Busting Myths with Adam Savage: AdamSavage wants YOU to come chat with him during his Main Stage Q&A! Your Friday just got so much awesomer when you by join everyone’s favorite myth busting, savage building, closet cosplaying geek. This can’t-miss panel will give you a scientific sneak peek into the mythical mind of Adam Savage.
    Ft. Adam Savage
  • The Immortal Spacecraft: Space is a lonely place. For the most part, when a spacecraft is launched, it’s on its own, regardless of whether it ever needs assistance or not. It launches, operates, and is decommissioned alone, its lifespan limited by supplies that run out, imperfect human design, and the exceedingly harsh natural space environment.But what if we could find a way to make spacecraft self-sustaining? Able to be refueled, fixed, and upgraded by robots, ensuring their operational lifespans are no longer prematurely over? That is the promise of robots in space carrying out On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (OSAM). These three capabilities work together to make the concept of an immortal spacecraft not just science fiction, but one day, science fact.Join our NASA panelists as they walk you through the revolutionary robotic technologies that will help make immortal spacecraft feasible.
    Ft. Jill Mcguire, Billy Gallagher, Brent Robertson
  • Black Holes: Monsters of Destruction: Black holes. These enigmatic objects have fascinated us for over 100 years, and we are learning more and more about them every day, including direct imaging of the shadow of a supermassive black hole! Lurking in the centers of almost all galaxies, supermassive black holes are the true monsters in the universe. When they feed on passing gas and stars, they burst to life and power some of the most energetic astrophysical phenomena in the universe. Colliding black holes produce gravitational waves we are just starting to observe, and their extreme environments provide exquisite laboratories for the study of the laws of physics in ways we can’t hope to do on earth. Join moderator Dr. Joe Pesce and a panel of world-class experts as we discuss the facts surrounding these awesome monsters in the universe!
    Ft. Dr. Joe Pesce 
  • Taking science 20,000 Leagues Beneath Sea: From the 20,000 Leagues Beneath Sea to the Abyss, from Seaquest DSV and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea to the recent movie Underwater, the underwater environment has been a been a staple for science fiction. Even Star Wars has got in on the act with the underwater cities of Naboo in The Phantom Menace. In this panel we talk with a panel of ocean scientists about some of the most famous underwater science fiction epics – from the good to the bad, and even the ugly – and what it’s actually like to work and even live, underwater.
  • Solving the Space Development Paradox: The Expanse depicts a robustly settled solar system teeming with intrigue, adventure, and possibility. Indeed, recent work has shown that the resources of the solar system are vast beyond imagining, and worth many fortunes. Despite all this bounty and already having the technology for much more aggressive human space activity, we have no Martian cities or asteroid mining camps. Why? The short answer is money.The sort of self-sustaining space settlement envisioned by sci-fi authors faces a fundamental paradox: it is too expensive to ship everything you need from Earth, but to get around that, you already need industry in space.Drawing on an academic paper he wrote on the topic, the presenter will argue that deploying orbital solar power relays will not only address some of the most pressing environmental and energy problems here on Earth, but can break the development paradox and kickstart meaningful space settlement.
    Ft. Leet William Wood, PhD

SATURDAY

  • Where do Science Fiction Planets and Facts Meet? Science fiction planets are commonly found as worlds in which sci-fi novels take place. Do some of these worlds actually exist in the universe? In this panel, scientists will discuss how science fiction planets could actually be detected from Earth and what it might be like to live on one of them.
    Ft. Giada Arney, Kristin Sotzen, Noam Izenberg (panelist & moderator), Ravi Kopparapu, Laura Mayorga
  • Women at NASA: Come meet just a few of the talented women who work at NASA. Hear about what led them to the space agency, the sometimes crazy paths they took to get where they are today and the challenges they’ve faced.
    Ft. Dawn Myers, Nayi Castro, Staci Tiedeken, Natalie Curran, Sabrina Thompson
  • Warp Speed Ahead: Spacecraft in Fact and Fiction: From the TARDIS to Mars orbiters, from Space-X to X-Wings, spacecraft of all types hold an unparalleled grip on our imagination. Spacecraft present us with all the heady excitement of race cars, jet planes and a voyage into the unknown all in one. We know them by heart in their myriad wondrous shapes and forms: the NASA Voyager probes and Mars rovers, the laser gun-wielding fighters of Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, the mighty Borg Cube and many more. In this panel four NASA scientists will discuss rocket and spacecraft designs and technology – past, present and perhaps far-off future – and answer audience questions about NASA exploration plans for our solar system, both human and robotic. This is a great opportunity for writers, artists, or just the curious to be inspired and ask questions to the experts.
    Ft. Dr Conor A Nixon, Dr Giada N Arney, Dr Ravi Kopparapu, Dr Stefanie N Milam
  • The real Thing – what life on an Antarctic base is really like: The Thing is probably one of the most famous Sci-Fi movies set in Antarctica. In fact, in some Antarctic bases as they close down to a skeleton crew for the Winter, they watch the movie as a tradition. But how accurate is it about living and working in Antarctica? Scientists talk about what life is actually like working on an Antarctic base, and the types of science that is done at the South Pole.
    Ft. Chris Parsons
  • Pandemics in fact and fiction: Pandemic plagues — both manmade and natural — dominate the world of fiction. Books and shows like The Walking Dead, Utopia, and The Stand offer us ideals of post-apocalyptic heroism in the face of deadly viruses sweeping through the population. But as we’ve recently found, reality looks a lot less like zombies, and a lot more like huddling in your house. A panel of journalists, scientists and historians will discuss how fictional pandemics differ from real life, and how they are sometimes eerily similar. We’ll talk about the 1918 flu, the Justinianic plague, the coronavirus pandemic and other real-world examples, comparing and contrasting with their fictional counterparts. We’ll explore fictional tropes and how real viruses stack up. We’ll also discuss what fiction can teach us about living through a pandemic, and what real stories can give back to fictional worlds.
    Ft. Tina Hesman Saey
  • Uncovering Mars through New and Future Missions: Earlier this year, NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover landed on the surface of Mars. ExoMars, a joint program of the European Space Agency and the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, will launch to the Red Planet in 2022. These missions will address key questions about the potential for life on Mars. The ExoMars rover, named Rosalind Franklin, will traverse the Martian surface in search of signs of life. The Perseverance rover will collect and store core samples for a future mission to gather and return to Earth. In this session, NASA scientists will discuss what we hope to learn from these new missions and how current orbiters around Mars will support them.
    Ft. Lu Chou, Scott Guzewich (panelist & moderator), Geronimo Villanueva, Victoria Da Poian
  • Dugongs & Seadragons: The time of heroes was over. It was a time for … not-quite-so-heroes! Join the cast of the Dugongs & Seadragons podcast for a live recording. Dugongs and Seadragons features an international collection of nerdy marine biologists playing Dungeons and Dragons while talking about marine science. The podcast has the unique honor of having been both a top 10 natural science AND gaming podcast in the US.
    Ft. Chris Parsons, Joshua Drew, Remi Montcrieff, Erin Andersen, Ashley Soller + special guest
  • Sex & the sealife (or blue chicca-woo-woo planet): The panel comprises a bunch of nerdy marine biologists who will be discussing some of the bizarre behaviors of marine species from orcas and elephant seals to giant squid – in particular details about marine reproductive behavior that would make even Aquaman blush. PG-13!
    Ft. Dr Ashley Scarlett; Dr Naomi Rose; Dr Craken MacCraic  

SUNDAY

  • The Art of NASA: Visualizing the Future of Space: In the technically-focused world of NASA, art is crucial to explaining complex topics and engaging audiences. It’s the perfect blend of art and science! Join professional artists, designers, and modelers from Goddard Space Flight Center for a moderated discussion of art careers at NASA, the impact of art on NASA’s vision, and the role concept art plays in mission proposals.
  • Girls in space: Often times, as children mature, they are told to leave that curious, creative-side behind. They are often told, “You cannot do both. You are either Right-Brained or Left-Brained.” This panel is living proof that curiosity, creativity, and STEM go hand-in-hand. The goal of this panel is to encourage the next generation to pursue their dreams, to think “outside of the box”, and to innovate in their own unique way via the introduction of a Sci-Fi graphic novel character who tackles a plethora of daily obstacles common to an African-American female scientist/engineer.
    Ft. Sabrina Thompson, Sanetra Bailey, Dr. Kyra Kim, Leslie Garrison
  • Using Citizen Science To Reach Fans Of Sci Fi: I communicate with many fans of sci fi, especially Star Trek, about citizen science projects to encourage them to do something that assists scientists with their research
    Ft. Michael Weldon Lewis
  • The Dark Universe: Dark Matter and Dark Energy: Everywhere we look we see normal matter: Stars, galaxies, planets, intergalactic gas, us. But that normal matter makes up only 4% of the entire mass/energy budget of the universe! What is the rest?! Dark Energy and Dark Matter. And we don’t know much about either. That’s right, we don’t really understand what makes up the majority of the mass/energy of the universe! Join moderator Dr. Joe Pesce and a panel of world-class experts as we discuss the facts surrounding these enigmatic components of our universe!
    Ft. Dr. Joe Pesce (moderator)

Stay tuned for the full Programming Schedule, including dates and times, to be released July 7.