When I was a kid – and who am I kidding; when I was an adult too – I made fun of the science in movies. “That’s so fakey!” I would cry out loud when a spaceship roared past, or a slimy alien stalked our heroes.
Eventually, my verbal exclamations evolved into written ones. Not long after creating my first website (back in the Dark Internet Ages of 1997) I decided it would be fun to critique the science of movies, and I dove in with both glee and fervor. No movie was safe, from Armageddon to Austin Powers.
I was right; it was fun. It was surprisingly easy to deconstruct Hollywood accuracy, or lack thereof. Any mistake was fair game; a flubbed line with bad math was just as likely for me to mock as a plot device upon which the entire movie rested. Blowing up a giant asteroid? Pshaw. Saying “million” instead of “billion”? Please. Shadows moving the wrong way at sunset? Let me sharpen my poison keyboard.
It is all fun and games – until you accidentally start World War III. That is what Matthew Broderick’s character, David, discovers in the acclaimed 1983 film WarGames. Believing he hacked into a war-based computer game, David starts to play the game by sending missiles from the Soviet Union to the United States. What he does not realize is that he hacked into the U.S. military’s War Operation Plan Response (WOPR) supercomputer, and his game is believed to be a real attack. A thrilling chase to save the world ensues, and, well, we will not spoil it for you.
Science and entertainment are mixing it up everywhere. They have been crossing paths in a variety of ways; some are not that unusual, but others seem out of the ordinary. Here are some recent examples of science and entertainment hanging out together.
ON THE STAGE
Live theater seems to have embraced science in a big way. Has there been an uptick in science-themed plays? It would seem so. Science, technology, and mathematics have been the inspiration for a lot of drama on the stage in recent years. Plays such as Copenhagen and Proof have drawn large audiences and critical acclaim.