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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

In which I SEE the light

By Phil Plait

The Science and Entertainment Exchange is a program run by the National Academy of Sciences (!) to hook up entertainment professionals and scientists. The idea is to get better science in movies, and a better portrayal of scientists themselves. The win for science is obvious, but it also means better movies - a lot of folks in Hollywood want the science in their movies to be better - and better stories. Everyone wins!

Marty Perreault, the SEE Director, asked me to write an article for SEE's blog, and not being a fool I agreed. I figured I'd write about how I used to be kindof a nitpicky science accuracy Nazi when it came to movies, but then figured out (with some help) that maybe there's more to movie-making than educating people about science.

The article -- "How I Stopped Worrying (About Science) and Learned to Love the Story" -- is now online. It's relatively short, but I think you'll like it. Here's a brief excerpt:

Movie after movie came and went, and I watched each in the darkened theater, off to the side, hunched over my notepad with my pen clicked and ready, and â literally â a flexible red-filtered flashlight wrapped around my neck like a scarf to illuminate my writing in case the scene I was destroying was too dark for me to see my own words.

Then, one day, I had an epiphany. Well, actually, the epiphany was forced on me...”

Head on over there and see the rest!

I'll add that I was on a panel sponsored by SEE recently called A Night of Total Destruction, where several scientists talked about apocalyptic scenerios to a room packed with writers and directors. That was fun -- apparently, they were very impressed with gamma-ray bursts -- and I had a great time chatting with them afterwards.

I'm enjoying working with SEE, and the folks in Hollywood. It's something I've always wanted to be involved in, so this really is a dream come true.

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