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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

How Do You Get Better Science in TV And Movies? You Have to SEE.

By Phil Plait

Oh, do I love science fiction on TV and in the movies. I’m grooving on The Expanse, 12 Monkeys, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and more. The science in a lot of these productions may not be perfect, but it’s pretty dang good. Certainly way better than it was even a few years ago.

A big reason for that is SEE: the Science and Entertainment Exchange. This is a program by the National Academy of Sciences—a very prestigious group—to increase the quality of science and the depiction of scientists in the media. I love this idea; most writers of these shows aren’t experts in the science, and when they talk to scientists, they can discover storylines they wouldn’t have even known existed.

The video network Great Big Story just put out a lovely short video showing a great example of this: How SEE got Agent Carter producer Wendy Wimming in touch with physicist Clifford Johnson to add some realism to the second season:

When I watched the second season of Agent Carter I smiled at the physics references; they rang true, and I knew SEE was involved.

I’ve worked with SEE for many years now; they put me in touch with a video game company to help them add real astronomy to the story, I’ve done several panels they’ve put together at San Diego Comic-Con, I’ve spoken at the Director’s Guild in L.A. on a panel they organized about the end of the world (and I got what is shirley the single greatest gift in my life from that), I’ve written for their website, and Rick Loverd, featured in the video above, is a good friend. I even helped him a tiny little bit on his comic book Venus.

So yeah. I’m a big fan of theirs. They do good work, getting more and better science out into the public. And in the end, they help make stories better.

And, as a good doctor once said, “We're all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

P.S. If the Agent Carter storyline of actress-and-scientific-genius Whitney Frost sounds familiar, she was based on real life as well, though I don’t think Hedy Lamarr was infected with a bizarre form of quantum matter.

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