Feature

What's Wrong with This Picture?

Educating via analyses of science in movies and TV

By
6:56pm, October 12, 2004

The arrival of a new ice age in a matter of weeks? Setting the Earth's core rotating with a few nuclear bombs? Fault zones that gape open to swallow people, speeding trains, and even small towns? "Get real," say earth scientists decrying the recent movies The Day after Tomorrow and The Core and the TV miniseries 10.5. For years, scientists have worried that inaccurate science on both big and small screens misinforms viewers who may not distinguish what's fiction and what's fact. However, some scientists see opportunities in even the most outlandish films and television shows. To dispel popular misconceptions about science, educators are teasing out shreds of scientific truth hidden within the fiction, and scientists are using unredeemably inaccurate scenes as ways to attract public attention to genuine scientific concepts.

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