Actually, this sounds like an awesome class. I’m sure my physics grades would have been much better if I’d had one like this!!

“Movies such as Spiderman 2 and Speed generate excitement among audiences with their cool special effects. But they also defy the laws of physics, contributing to students’ ignorance about science….

Two University of Central Florida professors show just how poorly Hollywood writers and directors understand science in an article published in the  journal “Praxis der Naturwissenschaften Physik”…. Together, they came up with the movie approach now known as “Physics in Film.”

“I needed a hook to get the students interested in science,” Efthimiou said. “I needed something to get them beyond this fear.”…. For example, he uses a scene from Superman when the hero flies around the earth an in effort to reverse time and save Lois Lane from death. When students show up to class, they dissect the scenes and learn the real laws of physics. In the Superman example, he explains the real way angular momentum works.

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!

2 Comments

  1. You know, I can’t help seeing this the same way I see the whole violence issue. Movie violence doesn’t cause violence in the real world; it’s a reflection of the violence of society. Conversely, bad science in movies doesn’t result in bad science in the real world; it’s a reflection of our society’s ignorance of science.

    Writers, directors, special effects departments, etc. aren’t trying to do it the way it’s right, or the way they think it’s right, but the way their viewers are going to accept as being right. I’ve heard of cases where effects departments have tried to, say, make spaceships behave the way they really would in space, but changed it because it looked weird and the test audiences responded negatively to it.

    However, it is a great hook for a class–and a great way to educate people about science. But they’re not really looking at filmmakers’ misconceptions of science, but the public’s in general. Which, if anything, makes the class even more interesting and relevant.

  2. C’mon man, I needed a catchy headline :D
    Yeah, my husband hates seeing sci-fi movies with me–I get all freaked out about doomsday devices that are based on ridiculous interpretations of physics. “That wouldn’t work! A hand-held particle accelerator wouldn’t …etc.”

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