Preaching with Prometheus: Religious Responses to Alien Visitors in Science Fiction Films

One of the more intriguing, and controversial, thematic aspects of Ridley Scott’s new film Prometheus involves its overt discussions of science and faith. The character of Dr. Elizabeth Shaw is a scientist whose father was a Catholic missionary. She retains her religious faith even after she finds scientific evidence that an ancient alien species created humanity in its own image using genetic engineering. Rather than question the concept of a supernatural creator, she merely shifts her belief to the notion of an intergalactic God who created the creator species.

Podcasts for the Science Enthusiast

Modern society keeps yelling out “there are not enough hours in a day” and “we must increase our multi-tasking capabilities” so let’s consider discovering science via podcasts. An array of choices await, each presenting science uniquely. Here are a few to sample:  

Science Friday (SciFri)   

How I Stopped Worrying (about science accuracy) And Learned to Love The Story

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.

Tribeca Film Festival: WarGames

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 Mash-up

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.

NAS, NAE, and IOM present 'Decisiontown' at USA Science and Engineering Festival

Decisiontown Logo

The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine are collaborating with the USA Science and Engineering Festival to present Decisiontown, a hands-on exhibit designed to show how citizens can use science, engineering, and medicine to make informed decisions in their daily lives. Decisiontown will be one of more than 3,000 exhibits at the festival, a free public event which takes place in Washington, D.C., on April 28 and 29.

Event Recap: A Night of Total Destruction

Bringing about the apocalypse is easier than you think.

On April 4, The Exchange hosted A Night of Total Destruction at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. The event brought together four leading experts and a packed audience of filmmakers to discuss a variety of exciting (but very real) ways to trigger the end of our civilization. Of course, for filmmaking purposes only.

Jon Spaihts (writer of The Darkest Hour and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus) led an evening of lively, entertaining, yet thoroughly unnerving, discussions on topics ranging from neuro-weapons that can influence the human brain to the imminent danger we face with natural disasters.

Big Bugs, Big Problems

In the 1950s era of over-the-top science-fiction and horror films, the giant insect film invaded theaters with a bug-eyed, tentacled fury. Beginning with Them! in 1954, movies like Tarantula (1955), The Black Scorpion (1957), Beginning of the End (1957), The Monster That Challenged the World (1957), Deadly Mantis (1957), Earth v. The Spider (1958), and The Wasp Woman (1959) placed small-town Americans at the mercy of enormous creepy-crawlies that could only be vanquished with the use of military force.

Five Things That Surprised Me Most About Being A Hollywood Boundary Spanner (Nee Science Adviser) Part 2

In Part 1, Kevin Grazier shared three of his top surprises about being a science adviser in Hollywood.  Let the conversation continue --

Whenever I do a public talk/panel/convention, it is almost a certainty that I will be asked, “So how does your job work? You just get a script and tell them what they did wrong?” It is nearly always phrased that way, or quite similar, every time. It’s true that for episodes for which I was not included from the onset, I receive a copy of the script and a window of time in which I can submit notes to the writers and showrunners. But if all I did was point out what was wrong, what purpose would that serve? Let’s use a real example from the last season of Eureka.

Five Things that Surprised Me Most About Being a Hollywood Boundary Spanner (Nee Science Adviser)- Part 1

I found out moments ago that my boss on Eureka, Executive Producer and co-creator Jaime Paglia, delivered our final episode to the network within the past hour. Everybody involved with the show is disappointed, feeling the series ended a little early, but nevertheless it was a fantastic run of five seasons.

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