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Science in the movies

03/09/11 -  

Could scientists really launch a nuclear missile to break up an asteroid that threatens to crash into the Earth?  Can an airborne virus wipe out all of humanity in a matter of hours?

Dr. Greg Pillar encourages students in his "Recipe for Disaster: Hollywood vs. Reality" Honors Seminar class to explore such questions.  The Honors class meets for two hours and 40 minutes every week, allowing ample time for movie watching and reviewing.

This semester, the class is watching films including "Absolute Zero" and "Children of Men," and then dissecting the role science plays to see whether it's accurate or Hollywood magic.

"I look forward to coming to this class because the discussions are so much fun," said junior Lindsay Bell, a nursing major. "I'm definitely remembering more than I would if I was listening to a regular lecture. And I'm learning to think more critically."

 Pillar - whose main research area is environmental science - has always been fascinated by the way science and technology are represented in pop culture.  This is the third time he's taught the class at Queens and he says he enjoys watching students develop a stronger sense of skepticism as they discuss the movie scenes.

The Charlotte Observer recently featured Pillar and his students in the SciTech section. Read it here.





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