Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide

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Spaceships travel through time at lightspeed, piloted by human clones and talking animals. Serious injuries are healed with the wave of a medical gizmo. The media makes it all look easy. Can scientists hope to accomplish such amazing feats in the real world, or are they merely flights of fancy? This book is a fun look at what can, and can't, be achieved with current technology in today's laboratory experiments.

Fans of the Jetsons, Star Trek, and Star Wars will learn the facts behind the fiction through entires that describe the scientific inventions and procedures on the screen, and how they differ from the reality. Van Riper shows us who innovators like Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, and Isaac Newton really were before they were mythologized. He discusses how animals such as chimpanzees, dolphins, and elephants are portrayed in books and films, and what we really know about animal intelligence. This book lifts the curtain on science fiction, revealing how and where scientific laws have been discarded for the sake of a good plot.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
In 81 entries, Van Riper (social and international studies, Southern Polytechnic State U.) surveys how various dimensions of science have been treated in popular literature, film, and other genres. Examples topics are eclipses, meteorites, robots, and whales. His goals are first to separate fact from fiction, and second to identify exemplary treatment of particular scientific topics. He cross-references to other entries, and suggests further reading. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313318221
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/30/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

A. BOWDOIN VAN RIPER is a professor in the Department of Social and International Studies at Southern Polytechnic State University. He specializes in the history of science and has written numerous articles on the history of space and aviation.

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Table of Contents

Conventions Used in This Book
Science in Popular Culture 1
Acceleration 3
Action and Reaction, Law of 5
Alternate Worlds 7
Androids 10
Atomic Energy 13
Chimpanzees 18
Cloning 21
Comets 27
Computers 30
Cryonics 35
Cyborgs 38
Darwin, Charles 41
Death Rays 45
Dinosaurs 48
Dolphins 53
Dreams 56
Earthquakes 59
Eclipses 63
Einstein, Albert 66
Electricity 69
Elephants 73
Epidemics 76
Evolution 80
Evolution, Convergent 84
Evolution, Human 87
Experiments 91
Experiments on Self 95
Extinction 98
Flying Cars 101
Food Pills 104
Franklin, Benjamin 107
Galileo 111
Genes 115
Genetic Engineering 119
Gorillas 123
Gravity 126
Houses, Smart 132
Ideas, Resistance to 135
Inertia 139
Insects 141
Insects, Giant 147
Intelligence, Animal 150
Intelligence, Artificial 153
Intelligence, Human 156
Life, Extraterrestrial 161
Life, Origin of 166
Lightning 169
Longevity 173
Magnetism 176
Mars 179
Matter Transmission 183
Meteorites 186
Mind Control 190
Miniaturization 193
Miracle Drugs 196
Moon 199
Mutations 203
Newton, Isaac 206
Organ Transplants 210
Prehistoric Humans 213
Prehistoric Time 217
Psychic Powers 220
Race 223
Radiation 229
Relativity 232
Religion and Science 235
Reproduction 239
Robots 242
Scientific Theories 248
Sharks 252
Space Travel, Interplanetary 256
Space Travel, Interstellar 262
Speed of Light 268
Speed of Sound 271
Superhumans 274
Time Travel 279
UFOs 284
Vacuum 287
Venus 290
Volcanoes 294
Whales 298
General Bibliography 301
Index 303
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