Monday, January 28, 2013

Interesting and quirky 'news'

How many of you know about Boing Boing?

It’s an interesting place to find articles from around the internet about technology and science.  Each day I receive links to a dozen or so articles in my email which gives me a glimpse into the good, the bad and the out-and-out weird.  Entertaining to say the least but often very informative.

I thought the article about How Hollywood Gets Science Wrong -- And That’s Okay was pretty interesting.  There are  two men (one is a university physics professor and the other, an astronomer with SETI) who work with Hollywood types so that they can make the science in movies more realistic – maybe.  Science and Entertainment Exchange looks to help answer questions so that producers/directors/etc. make conversations between movie scientists sound more realistic or help with design elements to demonstrate scientific concepts or provide ideas about alien weaponry. And more.

Here are a couple of examples:
I was the science adviser for The Day The Earth Stood Still, and one of the things they had me do was red line the scripts and help them make the dialogue sound more realistic. And they have these lines, like one scientist saying to another, "Professor Sputnik, there's an asteroid on a hyperbolic trajectory" and they rattle off all these numbers. Well, that's not how scientists talk to one another. What they'd say is, "Bob, there's a goddamn rock headed our way!" But they don't take all my advice on that because they're trying to make those characters sound "like" scientists, not sound like actual scientists.  -- Seth Shostak from SETI
During the making of Contact, I was one of the people called up by folks at Warner Brothers asking questions. They asked me what it looked like when you fly through a wormhole. Well, nobody knows, of course. And it's not clear you could even do it. But it is true that when you go faster than the speed of light the universe collapses into a bright point of light ahead of you and a bright point behind you. I told them that and then I told them that, usually when someone illustrates it though, they use something that looks like a pig's intestine. But this would be more accurate. So they said, "Thank you," and we hung up, and they made it look like the pig's intestine. -- Seth Shostak from SETI
I love finding articles like this.

A couple of books to consider that are along similar lines (tapping into kid's interests) are
The Science of Harry Potter : how magic really works ,
 The Physics of Star Trek,
and The science of Philip Pullman's His dark materials .

It may be that you've watched a TV documentary that runs periodically called How William Shatner Changed the World (or How Techies Changed the World with William Shatner) that speaks to how the show Star Trek has inspired technological advances in the real world.

Anyone have any other suggestions of similar types of resources? Please drop me a line in the comments below.  Thanks.


shelf-employed said...

Hi, Tammy. Thanks for hosting Nonfiction Monday today. Here is my contribution - Black History Month Fact and Fiction. It's somewhat related to your post, though I'm reminding readers that it's not just Hollywood - books get it wrong sometimes, too.

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