Scientist To Hollywood: Stop Making Shit Up

Illustration for article titled Scientist To Hollywood: Stop Making Shit Up

Physicist Sidney Perkowitz has one simple request for scifi filmmakers: please break the laws of physics only once per movie. He insists this for Tinseltown's own good, as audiences' disbelief can be only be suspended so far.

The Emory University physicist believes that good science in science fiction is beneficial for both scientists and filmmakers. Scientists can rest easy knowing pop culture isn't purveying crap science, and Hollywood wins by not insulting the audience's intelligence. Perkowitz takes particular umbrage with The Core, the 2003 "drill to the center of the Earth to detonate a nuke" flick. (Interestingly, the drill in that film was made of "Unobtainium." Hmmm....)

Perkowitz isn't a martinet when it comes to popcorn physics, but he insists that bad science is a bum deal for all parties. The Guardian sums up his position:

"I am not offended if they make one big scientific blunder in a given film," Perkowitz added. "You can have things move faster than the speed of light if you want. But after that I would like things developed in a coherent way."

"If you violate that you are in trouble. The chances are that the public will pick it up and that is what matters to Hollywood. The Core did not make money because people understood the science was so out to lunch," he added.


Perkowitz is a member of The Science & Entertainment Exchange, a National Academy of Sciences program that advocates the usage of non-handwavium scientific principles in mass media. Its advisory board includes such luminaries as Michael Mann, Frank Darabont, and Oliver Sacks, and they have a blog.

Also, if you need more grist for the mill, check out io9's classic chart of the worst abuses of physics in movies.

[via Guardian UK]


Share This Story

Get our `newsletter`


The Core did not make money because it was a bad flick. I do not care if the science is sound in a mavie. I care if the movie is fun and entertaining. If it can be both entertaining and scientifically accurate, than more power to this movie.

And I think scientist could benefit from bad Hollywood science. How many people are fascinated by the Mythbusters, a show that aim to verify every stupid claim Hollywood ever made? A show like that for, say, bigger-scale science (such as the core and Armageddon) would attract as much audience I think. More people would watch that than a straight science show with the same content