James Kakalios on curiosity

“Fans of fantastic fiction are excited by cool ideas, especially if they turn out to be true

- James Kakalios, writing in Nature

Our previous quote featured columnist Daniel Sarewitz bemoaning an American initiative to bring scientists together with film producers – all in aid of getting more and better depictions of science into TV and the movies. In today’s issue of Nature, one of the scientist participants of that initiative, The Science and Entertainment Exchange (SEE), has issued a well-reasoned and convincing rebuttal.

Kakalios, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota and the author of the book The Physics of Superheroes, helped film moguls with some concepts behind the 2009 film Watchmen, as well as with an accompanying educational video discussing the science behind it. As Kaklios puts it:

Within a few months, the video had been watched more than 1.5 million times. I could teach 1,000 students a year for 15 centuries before I would reach that many people. I doubt that I could get even 15 people to view a straightforward video demonstrating the wave–particle duality that underlies quantum physics. But, by tying the facts to a major motion picture, people who came for the fiction stayed for the science.

In our opinion, this is a great example of how the benefits of projects like SEE should be self-evident.