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PODCAST: Harvard psychologist explains the science of zombies

Last week, two young women were arguing about the color of zombies in a waiting room at Mass General. When a doctor appeared, they asked her for an opinion on whether zombies should, by rights, be green or gray. The doctor thought for a second and said, "I don't know, but I'll ask my friend Dr. Schlozman -- he's been driving us nuts all week trying to get us to watch zombie movies."

That would be Dr. Steven Schlozman, who teaches at Harvard Medical School and practices childhood and adolescent psychology at Mass General. On Monday, Schlozman gave what was, by all accounts, the most eagerly-anticipated lecture in the history of the Coolidge Corner's "Science on Screen" series, which brings practicing scientists in to introduce movies. Schlozman was introducing the ne plus ultra of zombie movies, George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. (Schlozman did his homework -- which included getting Romero on the phone for a brief interview.) And Schlozman proposed to answer some of zombie fans' deepest, most burning questions ("Why are zombies always so hungry?") by using the tools of cutting-edge neurobiology. 

If you sling words for a living, there is something irresistable about the opportunity to use "Harvard neurobiologist" and "zombies" in the same sentence -- and not surprisingly, every newspaper in town promptly bombarded Schlozman with interview requests. But only your friendly neighborhood Phoenix was thoughtful enough to go to the lecture, record it for posterity, and bring it to you on the interwebs. You can thank us later. And while you're at it, thank the Coolidge Corner Theater and "Science on Screen," who allowed us to bring you this once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity.You can download the entire lecture as an mp3 (below), but we'll advise you that watching the video (above) is much more fun -- especially if you have a soft spot for PowerPoint presentations involving cranial impalement, headless Freud action figures, and juicy Buffy the Vampire Slayer gossip.

DOWNLOAD: Dr. Steven Schlozman, "The Neurobiology, the Psychology, and the Cultural Overtones of the Zombie Film Genre" [mp3]

COOLIDGE CORNER SCIENCE ON SCREEN SERIES concludes May 11 with celebrated futurist RAY KURZWEIL giving a multimedia presentation based on his book The Singularity Is Near, screening the trailer of the movie based on the book, and previewing a Kurzweil documentary | Coolidge Corner Theater, 290 Harvard Street, Brookline | 617.734.2501| www.coolidge.org

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