Hollywood Science: Movies, Science, and the End of the World / Edition 1

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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. 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Locus - Claude Lalumiere
An engaging and fun read.
American Scientist - David Schneider
Hollywood Science is great fun... I give it two thumbs up!
Fortean Times - John Findura
Hollywood Science is a treat for anyone who looks from their television set to the Moon.
SFRA Review - Neil Easterbrook
An exceptionally accessible book, Hollywood Science provides a very good catalog of the ways Hollywood has used and abused science.
Locus - Claude Lalumière
An engaging and fun read.
An entertaining, maybe indispensable guide for film buffs everywhere.
Los Angeles Magazine
"A grand roundup of technical movie masterpieces... praising scientific accuracy (A Beautiful Mind) and exposing turkeys (Volcano).
An engaging and fun read.

— Claude Lalumière

American Scientist
Hollywood Science is great fun... I give it two thumbs up!

— David Schneider

Physics World
A fascinating read that will have you heading to your local DVD store.
This is a terrific book... Essential.
Fortean Times
Hollywood Science is a treat for anyone who looks from their television set to the Moon.

— John Findura

SFRA Review
An exceptionally accessible book, Hollywood Science provides a very good catalog of the ways Hollywood has used and abused science.

— Neil Easterbrook

This is a terrific book... Essential.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231142809
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 12/4/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet 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.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface: A Personal Note ix


1 Looking for Science in the Movies?: Check Out Science Fiction Films First 3

Part I Dangers from Nature

2 Alien Encounters 19

3 Devastating Collisions 49

4 Our Violent Planet 67

Part II Dangers from Ourselves

5 Atoms Unleashed 93

6 Genes and Germs Gone Bad 116

7 The Computers Take Over 142

Part III The Good, The Bad, and The Real

8 Scientists as Heroes, Nerds, and Villains 167

9 Solid Science and Quantum Loopiness: Golden Eagles and Golden Turkeys 196

10 Hollywood Science vs. Real Science 213

Afterword: Finding Real Science in the Movies and Beyond 227

Appendix: Alongside Hollywood Science, There's Popcorn Science 229

Further Reading and Viewing 231

Filmography 239

Acknowledgments 243

Index 245

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