Lab Coats in Hollywood: Scientists' Impact on Cinema, Cinema's Influence on Science


Location: Grace Hall, Lower Level Training Room

David Kirby; Centre for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine; University of Manchester (England)

Most people are unaware of scientists’ significant influence on the content of popular films. Yet, films ranging from A Beautiful Mind and Contact to Finding Nemo and Hulk have achieved some degree of scientific credibility because of science consultants. In this talk, Kirby will elaborate on the backstage role scientific experts play in negotiating information transfer between the scientific community and the entertainment community in the production of popular films. Drawing on interviews and archival material, he will examine such science consulting tasks as fact checking, shaping visual iconography, advising actors, enhancing plausibility, creating dramatic situations, and placing science in its cultural contexts. Kirby will also show how cinema can influence science, as well, by promoting research agendas, stimulating technological development, contributing to scientific controversies, and stirring citizens into political action.

This is brown bag lunch lecture sponsored by the John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values.