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Science of TRON

Listen to audio from the "Science of TRON" panel, featuring director Joe Kosinski, producer Sean Bailey, and science consultants Sean Carroll & John Dick. Learn More

Sidney Perkowitz

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Aliens: Love Them, Hate Them, or Relate to Them?

What with black holes, dark energy, and so on, it’s a big strange universe out there. Science fiction films add more strangeness when they include weird and wonderful aliens. The closest we’ve come to real aliens so far is evidence of water that could support life, past or present, at a few sites in our solar system. But we have recently found lots of extrasolar planets and that helps fuel a long tradition of speculating about life in the universe.

Science Fiction Covers the Universe, And Also Our Own Little Globe

Ever notice how often the alien spaceship lands in Washington, DC, or New York City rather than Paris, Beijing, or Rio de Janeiro? Since the big science-fiction blockbusters are Hollywood products, it’s not surprising that these films are U.S.-centric and it’s also true that Washington and New York are major world cities. Even if the aliens want to reach Earthlings via the United Nations that too requires a stop-off in Manhattan.

But CNN headquarters might be a better choice, because there’s a whole big globe out there becoming increasingly interconnected by more than the UN International Telecommunication Union, Internet, and 24-hour news cycle. International trade and finance, terrorism, global warming, job outsourcing, immigration – all of these are linking people and nations more closely. Like any other cultural product, science fiction must reflect this reality sooner or later.

Updating Those Classic Science Fiction Films

Hi everybody. This is my first posting here, and I’m excited to write about science in film, a topic important for both scientists and film people. I’m a physicist who’s also a lifelong science fiction and movie fan. That helped when I wrote a book about science in film called Hollywood Science: Movies, Science, & the End of the World. In the process I watched a lot of films and that has given me plenty to write about. 

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