Hollywood Science

Movies, Science, and the End of the World

Sidney Perkowitz

Columbia University Press

Hollywood Science

Google Preview

Pub Date: February 2010

ISBN: 9780231142816

272 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $23.95£18.99

Pub Date: December 2007

ISBN: 9780231142809

272 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $75.00£58.00

Pub Date: December 2007

ISBN: 9780231512398

272 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $23.99£18.99

Hollywood Science

Movies, Science, and the End of the World

Sidney Perkowitz

Columbia University Press

Whether depicting humans battling aliens or a brave geologist saving lives as a volcano erupts, science-fiction films are an exciting visual and sensuous introduction to the workings of science and technology. These films explore a range of complex topics in vivid and accessible ways, from space travel and laser technology to genetic engineering, global warming, and the consequences of nuclear weaponry. Though actual scientific lab work might not be as exciting, science fiction is an engaging yet powerful way for a wide audience to explore some of the most pressing issues and ideas of our time.

In this book, a scientist and dedicated film enthusiast discusses the portrayal of science in more than one hundred films, including science fiction, scientific biographies, and documentaries. Beginning with early films like Voyage to the Moon and Metropolis and concluding with more recent offerings like The Matrix, War of the Worlds, A Beautiful Mind, and An Inconvenient Truth, Sidney Perkowitz questions how much faith we can put into Hollywood's depiction of scientists and their work; how accurately these films capture scientific fact and theory; whether cataclysms like our collision with a comet can actually happen; and to what extent these films influence public opinion about science and the future.

Movies, especially science-fiction films, temporarily remove viewers from the world as they know it and show them the world as it might be, providing special perspective on human nature and society. Yet "Hollywood science" can be erroneous, distorting fact for dramatic effect and stereotyping scientists as remote and nerdy, evil, or noble, doing little to improve the relationship between science and society. Bringing together history, scientific theory, and humorous observation, Hollywood Science features dozens of film stills and a list of the all-time best and worst science-fiction movies. Just as this genre appeals to all types of viewers, this book will resonate with anyone who has been inspired by science-fiction films and would like to learn how fantasy compares to fact.
An entertaining, maybe indispensable guide for film buffs everywhere. Booklist
"A grand roundup of technical movie masterpieces... praising scientific accuracy (A Beautiful Mind) and exposing turkeys (Volcano). Los Angeles Magazine
An engaging and fun read. Claude Lalumière, Locus
Hollywood Science is great fun... I give it two thumbs up! David Schneider, American Scientist
A fascinating read that will have you heading to your local DVD store. Physics World
This is a terrific book... Essential. CHOICE
Hollywood Science is a treat for anyone who looks from their television set to the Moon. John Findura, Fortean Times
An exceptionally accessible book, Hollywood Science provides a very good catalog of the ways Hollywood has used and abused science. Neil Easterbrook, SFRA Review
Preface: A Personal Note
Introduction
1. Looking for Science in the Movies? Check Out Science Fiction Films First
Part I. Dangers from Nature
2. Alien Encounters
3. Devastating Collisions
4. Our Violent Planet
Part II. Dangers from Ourselves
5. Atoms Unleashed
6. Genes and Germs Gone Bad
7. The Computers Take Over
Part III. The Good, the Bad, and the Real
8. Scientists as Heroes, Nerds, and Villains
9. Solid Science and Quantum Loopiness: Golden Eagles and Golden Turkeys
10. Hollywood Science vs. Real Science
Afterword: Finding Real Science in the Movies and Beyond
Appendix: Alongside Hollywood Science, There's Popcorn Science
Further Reading and Viewing
Filmography
Acknowledgments
Index
Web Features

Winner, 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

About the Author

Educated as a physicist, Sidney Perkowitz has produced dozens of research papers and books, along with four popular science books, works for stage and screen, and numerous magazine articles. Hollywood Science combines his science background with his love of movies. Born in New York, he lives in Atlanta and is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Physics at Emory University. He's happy to hear from readers at www.sidneyperkowitz.net.