Watching the Watchmen and Cheering the Heroes: The Science of Superheroes

Friday, February 19, 2010: 8:30 AM-11:30 AM
Room 6C (San Diego Convention Center)
Americans claim to respect and be interested in science and technology, but traditional science news coverage and Web sites rarely capture wide attention. Research has shown that when science is incorporated into quality entertainment TV and film portrayals, it can influence a much broader audience. By working with writers, producers, directors, and production designers, science can leverage the ability of entertainment channels to transmit positive messages that increase public awareness and understanding of science as well as shape attitudes and perceptions of scientists. Millions of average citizens encounter science through the science fiction shown on television and movie screens, and stories about superheroes are especially popular with younger audiences. Recognizing this reality, this symposium looks at the popular TV show "Heroes" and the major Hollywood film "Watchmen" and how they can serve as vehicles for providing crucial “teaching moments” about science -- despite the fantastical nature of fictive universes peopled with superheroes. A panel of writers, producers, and actors from the show and the film, and scientists with relevant expertise and experience in providing behind-the-scenes science advice, will discuss the differences between science on screen and off, the inherent challenges in depicting science in the popular media, and how scientists and entertainment professionals can work together to achieve mutually beneficial results.
Cortney Riese Sloan, National Academies
Ann Merchant, National Academies
and Jennifer Ouellette, National Academy of Sciences
Jennifer Ouellette, National Academy of Sciences
Milo Ventimiglia,
and Masi Oka,
Jennifer Ouellette, National Academy of Sciences
The X-Change Files
Jim Kakalios, University of Minnesota
The Physics of "Watchmen," or Why So Blue, Dr. Manhattan?
Sidney Perkowitz, Emory University
Hollywood Science
Tim Kring, Independent Writer and Producer
Science: The Real Hero of "Heroes"
Nicole King, University of California
The Evolution of "Heroes"
See more of: Communicating Science
See more of: Symposia