Hollywood’s deep-space science — how warped is it?

Aug. 04, 2010 | 1:22 a.m.

“Out of This World: The Science of Space Movies,” 7:30 p.m. Thursday , Samuel Goldwyn Theater

Star Trek Enterprise

There’s science and there’s fiction and then there’s science fiction. The space in between them — or, more precisely, the outer space between them — will be the topic this Thursday at “Out of This World: The Science of Space Movies,” the latest program from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Woman in Space

The presentation will be made by Adam Weiner, the author of “Don’t Try This At Home! The Physics of Hollywood Movies,” who plans to cover a lot of stellar territory.

“We are starting with the original 1902 Georges MeliesA Trip to the Moon,’ which is quite fantastic,” Weiner said. “We will be doing factually true-to-life movies like Apollo 13 and October Sky and then more fictional ones like Mission to Mars,’Star Wars,’ ‘Star Trek.’ There are movies like ‘Armageddon,’ which is famous for sounding scientific, but really makes a lot of mistakes along the way. We will also be showing a couple of clips from the movies.”

Weiner, who hosted a similar program last year on superheroes and superhero cinema, teaches physics at the Bishop’s School, a private high school in La Jolla.

“I discovered in my classes that using clips from movies was an excellent way of keeping them engaged and learning science,” Weiner said. “We take scenes from movies and deconstruct them according to real principles of science. Obviously, you are showing how something can’t be true, but you are also showing how some things might be possible.”

Weiner will join a panel discussion with Oscar-winning visual effects artist Richard Edlund of “Star Wars”; Philip Eisner, a screenwriter whose credits include “Event Horizon“;  former NASA flight director Gerry Griffin, who was technical advisor on “Apollo 13” and “Contact“; former NASA astronaut Jeffrey A. Hoffman, who has logged more than 1,200 hours in space;  and visual effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman, whose credits include “Mission to Mars.”

Also, on Friday, Weiner will host a screening of Fritz Lang’s 1929 sci-fi silent film “Frau im Mond,” a.k.a. “Woman in the Moon,” at the academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater.

On Saturday, the academy and Cinefamily will be screening 1968’s “Project Apollo” and the Oscar-nominated 1989 documentary “For All Mankind” at the Silent Movie Theatre.

— Susan King


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One Response to Hollywood’s deep-space science — how warped is it?

  1. Ally says:

    "according to real principals [sic] of science"

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