Scribner Seminar Program
In the Lab and on the Screen: Selected Topics in Science and their Portrayal in Film
Instructor(s): Katherine (Aurelia) Ball, Chemistry
Many of us have watched a movie wondering how realistic its portrayal of science is. Is that what it’s really like to float through space? Could scientists really manipulate DNA to do that? In this course you will see how several important scientific topics of modern times are depicted on the silver screen, and learn some of the scientific principles. However, this course isn’t just an episode of MythBusters. In addition to learning what real scientists know and are continuing to explore, we will ask other questions about the impact that the film portrayals of science and scientists have on our world: How important is it to be accurate? What role do films have on society’s perception of science and scientists? How does science intersect with issues of identity, race, and gender on screen? Who does Hollywood tell us scientists are, and what effect does that have? Together we will grapple with these questions and come away with a more critical view of what science tells us and how popular films communicate about science in our society.