Movies

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New ways scientists can help put science back into popular culture

Clifford Johnson

How often do you, outside the requirements of an assignment, ponder things like the workings of a distant star, the innards of your phone camera, or the number and layout of petals on a flower? Maybe a little bit, maybe never. Too often, people regard science as sitting outside the general culture: A specialized, difficult...
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The Force of biology is strong in 'Star Wars'

Allison E. McDonald

Star Wars: The Last Jedi follows the journey of Rey as the heroine discovers and learns about the Force, just as her teacher Luke Skywalker and his father Anakin did in the Galactic Rebellion and Clone Wars (more on this later). This raises an obvious question: What is the Force and where does it come...
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What the robots of 'Star Wars' tell us about automation, and the future of human work

Paul Salmon

Millions of fans all over the world are eagerly anticipating this week’s release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth in the series. At last we will get some answers to questions that have been vexing us since 2015’s The Force Awakens. Throughout the franchise, the core characters have been accompanied by a number...
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Star Wars' last Jedi may use the Force of quantum science

Christopher Wiebe

As Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theatres and its heroine Rey seeks to learn the ways of the Force from an aged and isolated Luke Skywalker, it raises some obvious and ongoing questions: Is there anything in science — particularly in quantum physics — that resembles the Force? Can objects be manipulated instantaneously...
radioisotope thermoelectric generator Martian
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Staying warm with a box of radiation on 'The Martian'

David Latchman

In the 2015 science fiction film, The Martian, NASA astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) finds himself stranded on Mars after being struck by debris during a forced evacuation. Left for dead, the intrepid astronaut must not only survive on the barren planet, he needs to find a way home. Mark must use every resource at...
Meaning of Arrival
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Deciphering the Science and Linguistics of 'Arrival'

David Latchman

Communication is one of the messiest things we humans do on a daily basis. We translate the thoughts inside our head into words that another person (hopefully) can understand. Assuming this other person shares a common language and culture, this should be easy (most of the time). But even when we do share a common...
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The Three Most Dangerous Film Shoots of All Time (And What Hollywood Can Learn from Them)

Justin O'Sullivan

To create cinematic action which is both believable and interesting, film producers often spend millions, but sometimes it is the actors that pay the real price for shooting a scene. Because of this, it is not uncommon for a big-budget blockbuster to be put behind schedule because of an injured lead actor. And while the...
SEMA approved inspectors
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Fact-checking Workplace Safety in Hollywood and Beyond

Justin O'Sullivan

The world of television and film has made leaps and bounds in terms of more realistic fictional universes. Despite this, workplace safety is still seen as either a complete joke or is scarcely mentioned. Fictional employees are constantly being asked to do things, or end up doing things, that completely defy health and safety regulation....
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An Interview With A Particle Physicist On What It Takes To Become A Ghostbuster

David Latchman

Ghostbusters is set to hit theaters in just over a month, and while the film might be fiction, it has some basis in actual science. We've already looked at why the Ghostbusters reboot is important and the real-world physics behind the Proton Pack. This time, I am interviewing the MIT particle physicist, Lindley Winslow, whose...
Ghostbusters Proton Pack
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An Interview with the Real Scientist who Redesigned the Ghostbusters Proton Pack

David Latchman

In my last article, I looked at the science behind the Ghostbusters' Proton Pack. The Proton Pack is a miniature particle accelerator and the design incorporates technology and some real-world physics. Many of the movie's designs and props seen in the Ghostbuster's reboot was the work of experimental particle physicists, James Maxwell and I had the...
Transporter Death Machine
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Is Star Trek's Famous Transporter Really a Death Machine?

David Latchman

Star Trek's transporter is about every fan's dream method of travel. Step onto the platform and you are instantaneously disintegrated while the information from every single atom in your body measured. The energy from being disintegrated is beamed into space and the information gained is used to reassemble you. Need to get to Mars in...
Ghostbusters Proton Pack
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The Science of The Ghostbuster's Proton Pack

David Latchman

The Ghostbusters trailer contains an Easter egg hidden in the whiteboard filled with physics equations. This Easter egg goes by quickly but if you pause at just the right moment, you will see one "equation" on top is a URL that spells paranormalstudieslab.com. Fans will recognize this is a nod to the original movie as...
Ghostbusters women reboot
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The New Ghostbusters Are Women And Why It Matters

David Latchman

The latest trailer to the new Ghostbusters came out last week and fan response has been resoundingly negative. Within hours of release, the trailer had garnered twice as many dislikes to likes on YouTube. While vitriol from fans is expected, the 1984 movie is a classic, so the almost 1-to-2 like to dislike ratio is...
Newt Scamander Fantastic Beasts
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How Newt Scamander Kept His Wand

David Latchman

The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trailer brings fans back to the world of Harry Potter, and reveals a somewhat startling secret regarding everyone's beloved Hufflepuff and magizoology expert. A voiceover by Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) reveals that Newton Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) was expelled from Hogwarts for endangering a muggle! But how can...
physics star killer base
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The Physics of the Death Stars and Starkiller Base

David Latchman

The Star Wars films feature not one but three battle stations capable of destroying planets. In "A New Hope," the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station employed a super laser powered by a hypermatter reactor to destroy Alderaan. Following the "Battle of Yavin," the Empire returned with the Death Star II, an even more formidable weapons platform...
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Did Rose murder Jack in the Titanic drowning scene?

Nikola Raic

Whether it is because people are trying to spoil one of the greatest romantic movies, or they are just trying to convince themselves that Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) was really supposed to die, the debate about the scene when Rose (Kate Winslet) drops Jack into the sea is still going on. The question everyone is asking...
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Is the science presented in Contagion relevant and accurate?

Mark Plummer

THERE ARE NO SPOILERS HERE YOU CAN READ WITHOUT KNOWING EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS "Contagion" is one of the few Hollywood films to employ on, the whole, highly credible science. As a movie "Contagion" more than hits home and, in my view, the most frightening aspect is the deliberate feel of the mundane and ordinary. It...
Walking on Miller's Planet
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Surfing on Interstellar Tidal Waves

David Latchman

In the movie Interstellar, Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) lands the Ranger 1 on Miller’s planet, a water world orbiting the supermassive black hole, Gargantua. Initial scans show the planet rich with the organic molecules, water, and sunlight necessary for life. Instead, what the team encounters is a shallow water world with 1.2-kilometer high waves. These...

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