Science in Film & Television

USA Today’s Dan Vergano has written a good article, called ‘TV, Films Boldly Go Down Scientific Path’, on how film makers and television producers are making an effort to get the science that they put into their films and TV shows to be as accurate – or at least as internally logically consistent – as possible.

Naturally, what you’ll see in films and television shows isn’t practical science because real, practical science is long and arduous and sometimes boring. Films and TV shows, meanwhile, are entertainment so at the most you’ll get a montage of a scientist (or a team of scientists) hard at work. And these montages will range from the suit-construction-in-the-cave montage from Iron Man to the working-by-the-window-as-the-seasons-change montage from A Beautiful Mind to the evidence-collecting-and-processing montages that you see on CSI all the time.

On most films and TV shows, though, the actual scientific process gets skipped and you only get to hear the results (e.g. “the lab tests are in”, “forensics has shown”, and so on). Unless, of course, the scientific investigative process itself is part of the storyline like it is on shows like CSI, Numb3rs, Lie to Me, and House – all of which feature real science with only a few liberties taken to make the plot more interesting. All four of those are awesome shows, by the way.

Anyway, Vergano has written a good article and I highly recommend you read it. It even quotes Phil Plait! :)