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The Sciences

Comic Con 1: Abusing the Sci of SciFi panel

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJuly 24, 2010 4:08 PM

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At Comic Con, I moderated a wonderful panel about how science sometimes gets screwed up by science fiction. Sponsored by Discover Magazine and The NAS Science and Entertainment Exchange, it's the third time we've done this panel, and it's been really fun every year. I already talked a bit about this -- we had Jaime Paglia from Eureka, Kevin Grazier from BSG and "Eureka", Zack Stentz from "Thor" and "Fringe", and Sean Carroll who is a cosmologist and blogs for Discover as well.

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We showed our picks for representative good and bad science in shows and movies, and I have to commend Sean for his pick of "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" for good science (the consistency of the time travel in that movie is wonderful) and "Big Bang Theory" for the philosophy of science -- they discuss the physics of Superman, making the assumption that a man actually can fly. We were short on time, and had to cut the Q&A off short, but as usual we got great questions from the audience and a lot of fun back-and-forth with the panelists. We'll have the video up at some point, and I think you'll like it when we do. So far, I've seen two reviews: one from ScriptPhD, and the other from our own Science Not Fiction. You can check out my Comic Con 2010 pix at Flickr, too.

[Update: Eric Wolff wrote an interesting piece on the discussion of when to break the rules of science. I may write more on this later, but I don't think Zack Stentz's contention that science must bend to the story would faze any of us on the panel; we know we're talking about fiction here. Science won't bend when you're publishing in the Astrophysical Journal, but it must when put under the constraints of telling an engaging fictional story.]

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