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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What scientific discipline would you like to see explored more on film?

Today is Darwin Day, the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin… and this year is a biggie: it’s 200 years since he was born.

In honor of the man and his paradigm-shattering breakthrough in biological science, today’s question: What scientific discipline would you like to see explored more on film?

We’ve seen lots of movies about robotics, for instance, but comparatively few about, say, anthropology. I’m fascinated by the history of early humans, and I bet a biopic about the work of people like the Leakeys or Donald Johanson could be great.

Think the extrapolative science of science fiction, or the reality of science fact in documentary form.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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  • t6

    This isn’t a scientific field…it’s in the Humanities.

    But! I want Musicology to be featured. And the star subject of that biopic should be the amazing Susan McClary–one of the first to write a book on feminist musicology (and then to receive lots of harassment about it…even by Tipper Gore and Pat Buchanan), recipient of the MacArthur genius award…and super cool person.

    Probably, they’d go to Meryl Streep to play her…But Susan Sarandon would be great!

  • t6

    Just to add…the film would have a great soundtrack…and she talks about sex and music quite a bit. One of the forefront of the New Musicology. It would be like Kinsey…but with Susan Sarandon…talking about orgasms in Renaissance music…and Madonna!

    Plus her husband is also a musicologist and published his first book on heavy metal…also scandalizing the field…and he should totally be played by Alan Rickman.

    This is gold! Hollywood…snap it up!

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    There are so many great stories to be told in paeleontology, and they’d probably be quite big hits on account of the fact that everybody loves dinosaurs. The Bone Wars would be an obvious choice: pitch it as Indiana Jones meets There Will Be Blood and you’ve got yourself a green light there, surely?

  • bitchen frizzy

    Geology has a lot of good stories to tell.

    Some movies have geologists in them, but they’re usually stock characters that don’t do much besides pull up cool graphics on their laptops and issue dire warnings in ominous tones.

    There’s the story of the buildup to the Mt. St. Helens eruption. Geologists looking for oil in remote parts of the world have all kinds of adventures. Then there’s cave exploration, mountain climbing, glaciers, earthquakes… all kinds of real and fictional storyline possibilities.

  • Ryan
  • JoshB

    Oooh, fun QOTD.

    Quantum physics. It’s the last big question mark in science. No other discipline allows for so much “here there be dragons” mystery.

  • Althea

    MaryAnn, I’m with you on anthropology. There’s so much misunderstood about how we got here – and how civilization came to exist – that it’s time for some of the newest information to be put together and disseminated for the general public. A lot of it might be screwed with by the movie powers that be, but so was history (of all eras) for the first half of the movie era, and that improved. (Remember the Bible movies of the 50s? Yucko for accuracy.) Biopics could be good, yes, but narratives could also be made, and be incredible. Think of the peat mummies and ice mummies, and how a story could be woven around their eras and milieus.

  • wilson h. l.

    I’m a student in optics and maths, these two are the ones I know the best, and therefore I’d like to see a movie which captures the aspect I like in both.

    Math has already been pretty much covered (badly, though) by movies which generally treat it superficially, and never really conveys the way of thinking that goes with it (the same could be said about chess movies).

    Optics seems such a good subject for a motion picture. Just think about all the uses of lenses, LASERs, mirrors, etc.. and all the impossibly beautiful pictures that you could fill the screen with. There are some very high tech researches that are made in optics, notably for the Defense Department. I can imagine a plot revolving around industrial spies, knowing that it’s a field where the research can be particularly frustrating and difficult (if you never worked with an interferometer, consider yourself a very lucky fellow). Also, the building of the school where I study Optics is only glass & steel, it’s just a wonderful place to be in when it rains, it’d make a perfect setting.

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