Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Education Science Entertainment

Pentagon Wants Screenplays From Scientists 757

Aix writes "According to the New York Times, the Pentagon is funding classes in screenplay writing for 15 scientists. The idea is to encourage kids to go into science and engineering through mainstream media and thereby presumably bolster long-term US national security. While it sounds like a lot of fun for the researchers involved, and anything that stems the spiral of the US into a culture of anti-intellectualism is a good thing in my book. Will glamorizing science in the movies make kids pay better attention in chemistry class?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Pentagon Wants Screenplays From Scientists

Comments Filter:
  • glamorous (Score:5, Funny)

    by talaper ( 529106 ) * on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:23PM (#13251301)
    "Will glamorizing science in the movies make kids pay better attention in chemistry class?"

    In a word, YES.

    we should all know by now that kids will immitate anything the movies (or tv) show them. just look at how many injuries were blamed on Beavis & Butthead!
    • Re:glamorous (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Also, ask anyone who provides a course on forensic science what the effect of CSI has been...
    • Re:glamorous (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) *
      We already have enough "science" showing up as "screen plays". I know Slashdot has posted about it before and I'm too lazy to look it up but everyone knows that there are "important scientific discoveries" about asteroids hitting the earth, earth shattering earthquakes, etc, all right before a movie about nearly the same topic comes out.
      • And when that movie about the asteroid came out, two major SF authors went to watch it. They'd already agreed that if there were a surfer on a tsunami, they were calling their lawyers. Now, for extra geek points, name the two authors and the reason to loose the dogs of lawsuit.
    • by tbischel ( 862773 )
      It already does! Just think of where your science skills would be without the inspiration of Star Trek?

      (well maybe you'd have an ACTUAL girlfriend, but thats not everything... is it?)
    • Re:glamorous (Score:4, Interesting)

      by IAmTheDave ( 746256 ) <basenamedave-sdNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:39PM (#13251518) Homepage Journal
      In a word, YES.

      Agreed. And shows like Futurama are awesome for this purpose as well, considering the brain mass they [slashdot.org] had [slashdot.org].

      I personally can't see anything but benefits from taking mainstream media and making it mathematically and scientifically sound. You don't lose any wow factor, but you also don't present preposterous information. Real science can be spectacularly amazing, especially some of the newer physics theories dealing with dimensions (string theory, etc.) and space-time as the fourth dimension.

      I love science.
      • Re:glamorous (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @02:26PM (#13252055) Homepage
        Come on - what is computer science without an "Uploading Virus" dialog box? What is aerospace engineering without do-it-all, land-anywhere-in-the-solar-system rocketplanes? What is biology without absurd mutations? What is astronomy without the approaching FTL alien invasion fleet to observe? Etc.

        Hollywood (in general) does cheap ascientific things because it makes better movies than the real stuff. Just like people don't watch a "hacker" movie to see someone typing endless lines of C code, the same goes with "technical" fields, in general.

        • "Hollywood (in general) does cheap ascientific things because it makes better movies than the real stuff."

          Exactly. Plus can you imagine a scientist scripting the love scene?

          "The mass of her heaving bosons betrayed her entanglement with Higgs, the mysterious agent she longed to know but had never seen."

    • Pefect script (Score:4, Informative)

      by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:45PM (#13251588)
      Camera pans to show children playing with various toys. Billy is sitting on the side by himself playing with his chemistry set. The more popular kids are playing with a football. Suddenly ten hot women come out of no where and surround Billy, cooing over him.

      Suddenly something in one of the tubes starts fizzling. Suddenly the President comes into view and hands Billy a big bag of money and says, "By God Billy, you've found a cure for cancer!" Everyone starts cheering.

      All the kids playing with non-science related toys get fat, ugly, and contract AIDs on the spot. They all fall over dead and no one seems to care about them. Billy is given a parade in his honor.

      Roll credits.

      A little extreme perhaps but I think if we made science look "cool" to little kids they'd probably buy it. If I would've seen this when I were little I'd probably have become a chemist.

      • Re:Pefect script (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pxtl ( 151020 )
        Actually, you'd be surprised. My wife's a teacher and has stood in in a few science classes, and half the kids there want to be CSIs now. Apparently Who music and David Carusoe are all it takes to get kids interested in Science. Who'da thunkit?
      • by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @03:43PM (#13252821)
        > Suddenly something in one of the tubes starts
        > fizzling. Suddenly the President comes into view
        > and hands Billy a big bag of money

        I very much doubt that. It is much more likely that suddenly a SWAT team would burst in and surround little Billy, pointing their automatic weapons at his head and screaming obscenities. Then they'd throw him in jail for possessing drug paraphernalia (namely, labware, chemicals, alcohol burner, etc.). If Billy wasn't alone at the time of arrest, conspiracy charges would no doubt follow.

        Then he'd be named a terrorist, after some underpaid police chemist runs some unspecific test and finds explosive precursors (do you realize how many chemicals fit in that category? Anything with a benzene ring can be converted into TNT.) in Billy's test tube. Billy's friends would be immediately included as co-conspirators to blow something up while stoned on some homemade drug.

        As anybody who has tried to do chemistry anywhere outside strictly controlled and designated places knows, the message from the government is chrystal clear: don't do chemistry. And now they try to blame us for listening and obeying the law? How amusing.
    • Re:glamorous (Score:4, Interesting)

      by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:48PM (#13251634)
      At the same time in China kids are learning English and studying Calculus while here they are still watching cartoons, play football and video games. By the time American children graduate from highschool they will still need to take a couple of remedial university courses to finish learning to read and write, while the Chinese students are already studying biochemistry and quantum physics. Well, ok, maybe I exagerated, but you get the point.

      Anyone who seems to be interested in science in this country was and still is a "nerd" and thus unpopular and a social outcast. Everyone wants to be friends with the athletic football jocks, the nerds and geeks are the ones who get picked on.

      The only way kids are encouraged to be succesful (read=make tons of $$$) by the society (media, family, friends) is to go to college, join a fraternity, party 4 years while taking some business classes then join daddy's or uncle's company with a $80,000 starting salary. Well, that seems to be working so far but for how long?

      So yeah, glamorizing science is a good step in the right direction, but I wonder if it too late.

    • Re:glamorous (Score:3, Insightful)

      by demachina ( 71715 )
      Maybe it will peak some interest but the simple fact is that by the time most of those kids reach college and start actually picking a career many are going to realize science and engineering are hard fields and the pay off is poor compared to:

      - business
      - marketing
      - law
      - medicine though the payoff there isn't so great either

      The reason the U.S. is cratering in science and engineering is that, other than during the dot com bubble, they are career paths for people who don't want to make a killing. Most talent
  • by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:24PM (#13251313) Homepage Journal
    I would love to see more science and engineering being taught and endorsed by the federal government, but it does not help that our POTUS is endorsing the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) as a science rather than the religiously biased belief system that it is. I don't have a problem with ID being taught as long as it can be taught along with other philosophy and religious curricula.

    • I would love to see more science and engineering being taught and endorsed by the federal government, but it does not help that our POTUS is endorsing the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID)

      I loathe the concept of "intelligent design" and the way its proponents attempt to give it parity with sensible ideas, but come on. Nice formula for Karma riches...

      1. Beat up on George W. Bush
      2. Beat up on Micrsooft
      3. ???
      4. Karma profits!

      • It's GWB's words. Surely one can criticize a man for taking a position that advocates the teaching of vacuous nonsense on an equal footing with science. And considering that problems attracting Americans to the sciences, the President's comments which, on top of all the nonsense in Dover, Kansas, and the crap that Santorum has been spewing, are not likely to fill the scientific community with glee.
        • Re:Oh please. (Score:3, Informative)

          by IAmTheDave ( 746256 )
          Here here. Let's please not focus on ID just because it is the latest thing to come out of this government. Rather, let's focus on the torrent of unsound [ucsusa.org]and unresearched [commondreams.org] scientific [house.gov] claims [projectcensored.org] made by the administration and the stifiling of scientists who strongly oppose such intrusion.

          Here's a great place to start:
    • America should probably do what the French have done and ban the teaching of religion in schools. They teach philosophy instead and leave religion and other superstitions out of it.

      Personally I don't see how anyone can advocate teaching "Intelligent Design" as an alternative to evolution. How do dinosaurs fit into ID, and if we're talking about theories why not bring in the tooth fairy and scientology as well?
  • Perhaps the Pentagon should pay a visit to President Bush and explain why the advocating of empty pseudo-scientific rhetoric designed to get Creationism past the Constitution may play some part in harming science in the US.
    • shh, he's on his 40th vacation this year, don't wake him up, he'll only make it worse ...

      Personally, I'm waiting for an inspired playwright to use DOD money to write a humorous play called "Golfing With Bob In Iraq or Where's My Camel?"

      More of a laughfest than Angels in America was.
    • Creationism and Intelligent Design: life was created by some extra-natural force, assumingly the author of the universe.

      Abiogenesis (what is taught in schools): life was created from non-life. Because this goes against the law of Biogenesis -- the observable fact that all life comes from other life -- abiogenesis is an un-natural force (at least, until the law of Biogenesis is proven wrong).

      I'm not saying one or the other is right or wrong, I think that's a personal decision, but I am making an observation
      • You are aware, I trust that modern theories of abiogenesis are not the same as the idea that Pasteur falsified. Why does this canard keep getting repeated? Nothing in modern abiogenesis research requires "non-natural" (whatever that is) forces. The theories aren't complete, but can you name a theory that is complete?

        ID is non-science. It's vacuous garbage designed to get past the ban on teaching religion in schools. It has no explanatory power. What kids should be taught in science class is science.

        • Re:Just an Idea (Score:3, Insightful)

          by VolciMaster ( 821873 )
          you're right, they should be taught science. And since science requires observable, repeatable techniques, any discussion of the origins of life must, by definition, be "vacuous garbage designed to get past the ban on teaching religion in schools". That includes any discussion of the origins of life: evolution, creation, intelligent design, whatever. Since it all has to be accepted upon faith (as we weren't there to observe it), it's all religion.

          Science should stick to things it can handle: physics, che

  • I wonder.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by BlackCobra43 ( 596714 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:24PM (#13251318)
    ...will they produce something more interesting than what Hollywood makes? ..wouldn't be hard, really..
    • by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @02:14PM (#13251940) Journal
      I think they would come out a lot like this:

      - Set a course for Alpha Centauri!
      - Aye aye, Captain!
      (five or more years of boring space cruise)
      (exterior shots in perfect silence, there is no sound in space)
      (finally the ship arrives)
      - Scan for life forms!
      - Sorry sir, there's no such thing as a "life form detector". It's not like life gives off a special energy or something.
      - Well, shit. Let's go home then.
      (several more years of boring space cruise)
    • Re:I wonder.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Coryoth ( 254751 )
      ...will they produce something more interesting than what Hollywood makes? ..wouldn't be hard, really.

      They are only writing the screenplays, not making the films. Hollywood can butcher a screenplay six ways from Sunday without a moment's thought. I gather the screenplay for "The Island" actually resembled a somewhat thoughtful SF story before Michael Bay and his production team got a hold of it. They can write and brilliant creative and interesting a screenplay as they like, unless it happens to fall into t
    • Re:I wonder.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xtracto ( 837672 )
      I really hope they make something similar to what hollywood does, you see, that way all the mases of Joes and Janes 6P will take their kids to see it. And those are the ones that need to be taught dont you think?

      If they make the films more *interesting* in the way you are thinking then a lot of people wont like to see it because it will be *boring* for them... it is like the movie "Memento" or "Pi", of course they are both great movies but not for the . I remember a friend telling me that he found boring Me
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) * on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:24PM (#13251325)
    The astro-physicists would all be wearing low-cut gowns.

    Does anybody really think there is any shortage of glamorous mathematicians or two-fisted archaeologists in Hollywood? Not to mention they are frequently written as the Voice of Reason, Saving the Day, Etc. The era of scientists being depicted as whining and dreary eggheads who cowardly scamper about in the shadow of the macho leading man left vogue with Doctor Zarkov.

    Oh, and not for nothing, you can teach science, but you cannot teach creativity. The government would be better served rounding up a couple dozen young but semi-established script-writers and giving them a crash course in astronomy. Of course, commissioning some Haiku from a bunch of Quantum Physicists would be pretty cool, in a Mondo 2000 kind of way...
    • The astro-physicists would all be wearing low-cut gowns.

      I see you missed Godzilla: Final Wars.

      Loved the scientist in that one, she reminded me of one of our research students here in Biochem who's from Japan.
    • Oh, and not for nothing, you can teach science, but you cannot teach creativity.

      I don't believe this, myself. Nor do I believe that scientists are inherently uncreative (or at least any more so than semi-established script-writers.)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Ugh, the "can't teach creativity" line. It's not really true. Creativity is 'fostered' by teachers, quite effectively, by teaching people how to make use of their creative instincts. Most people can be 'taught' how to 'improve' their creativity, just as people can learn perfect pitch or how to draw. Even surreal anarchic comedy is 'fostered'.
    • Oh, and not for nothing, you can teach science, but you cannot teach creativity

      Agreed- but science is all about cretivity as well. You can teach anyone FACTS of science, but I don't think you can teach them to BE a scientist... in the same way I can hand any person a script and tell them to memorize it, they could read back what I gave them, but they might not bring out the life of the script the way an actor would.

      While the country was in love with space movies and sci-fi in the 60's and 70's, pu
    • The era of scientists being depicted as whining and dreary eggheads who cowardly scamper about in the shadow of the macho leading man left vogue with Doctor Zarkov.

      I take it then, that you've never watched the original Flash Gordon serials, as I have. Dr. Zarkov had enough guts to build his space ship and launch it against an un-known force that was threatening to kill everybody on the Earth, and looked capable of doing it. He also had the sense to take along a "man of action," for those deeds of derrin

    • ...off the top of my head:

      Contact with Jodi Foster
      Indiana Jones series with Harrison Ford
      Jurassic Park series
      2001: A Space Odyssey

      among many others, I'm sure.
  • We already have those!!! Haven't you seen "The Day After Tomorrow"? It's like the most scientifically accurate movie ever.
    • Actually, the day after tommorow was based on Art Bell and Whitley Strieber's book The Coming Global Superstorm. In the book they are clear that it is hypothetical-
      What I like about it, is that it refutes the idiots that say "there is no global warming because it we had a cold winter and the summer isn't that hot..." (There was a letter in the Cleve. Plain Dealer a couple months ago saying that because whe had a late snow (late march, 8inches in Ohio) global warming si a joke, and the letter writer would
  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:25PM (#13251335)

    Because I saw this [imdb.com] glamorous,compelling drama, and I wanted to be just like the protagonist. ^_^
  • Forget Superman... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kurenai ( 31529 )
    ... we need MacGyver!
    • Worked for me.
      My goal at the end of highschool was to "work on something cool".

      So I became an engineer, unfortunately only I find my work cool.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:26PM (#13251348)
    While it sounds like a lot of fun for the researchers involved, and anything that stems the spiral of the US into a culture of anti-intellectualism is a good thing in my book.

    Pot. Kettle. Fragment.
  • I demand equal time for the teaching of scripts for both science.... and Scifi.

    Just like the president said we should. OK kids.... 1 for science, one for ID, one for science...
  • Will glamorizing science in the movies make kids pay better attention in chemistry class?


  • Complicated (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alex P Keaton in da ( 882660 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:30PM (#13251398) Homepage
    I don't think it is an A leads to B thing- Movies won't make kids automatically interested in science, however I think a lot of people were inspired by the cold war to get into science, and movies that made the Russians look bad got American kids into science, and vice versa.
    Whatever your opinion of the administration- Imagine if W had a conference, said that we are going to get rid of our need for foreign oil w/in 10 years, and got scientists etc. going with the support they deserve and need- it could be like JFK's moon challenge.
    It isn't just movies that influence people- we need a whole atmosphere of education in the US.
    Of course, another way to do this would to bring kids to 15 year reunions, when the football team captains have gotten fat and work at car washes, and the high school nerds are making great money in great jobs.... Education is cool man.
  • by Evil W1zard ( 832703 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:31PM (#13251413) Journal
    After watching the LOTR trilogy I have now been trying to make my very own One Ring! I also have been trying to learn how to cast Magic Missile and Root spells as well, but they are on the backburner until I can make my magic invisibility ring using a bunsen burner, a gold-plated $5 ring and some Methanol.
  • by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:32PM (#13251415)
    This seems like an awkward time for them to do this, considering as how they just slashed funding for hard research (DARPA) and schools all over have been scrambling to find new sources of funding.
  • MacGuyver.

    Because it really is all about shocking terrorists with high voltage or shooting homemade missles at drug lords.

  • by HonkyLips ( 654494 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:33PM (#13251423)
    They could do worse than begin by visitng this site: http://www.intuitor.com/moviephysics/ [intuitor.com] which examines physics in Hollywood movies. The reviews alone are priceless.
    • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Friday August 05, 2005 @02:08PM (#13251868) Homepage Journal
      And don't forget http://badastronomy.com/ [badastronomy.com]
    • A particularly creative scene I recently saw was in "XXX: State of the Union" starring Ice Cube. I'll leave the critics to judge the movie, but I think Steven Seagal movies are entertaining so you can see where I'm coming from.

      The scene I am particularly interested in is near the end of the movie when XXX (Ice Cube) jumps from a train going about 150mph off a 150-200ft high bridge into a river or lake. Just a split second before he hits the water he shoots his shotgun into the water where he will enter. Cou
      • by KozmoStevnNaut ( 630146 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @02:45PM (#13252228)
        Nope, not gonna happen. The Mythbusters tried it out with a crane, a crash test dummy equipped with a accelerometer and using a hammer to "break the surface tension". There was no effect whatsoever. The dummy was toast, hammer or no hammer.
        • by snowwrestler ( 896305 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @03:57PM (#13252966)
          I'm a whitewater kayaker and so know a little something about hitting the water at high speed (off a waterfall). For drops above 20 feet, boaters focus on penetrating the water with the bow of the boat so as to break surface tension. Above about 40 feet, that is no longer enough, and the boater needs to aim for the area of maximum aeration. Well-aerated water has a very low surface tension and so is safer to hit at high speeds. Waterfalls have been run over 100 feet without injury this way.

          So the shotgun would have a very different effect from a hammer in that it is more likely to aerate the water. Not that it would work anyway (air hurts at 150 mph, let alone water), but it important to understand the principle at work.
  • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:33PM (#13251431)
    I challenge anyone who thinks movies today aren't scientific to watch the original Jurassic Park.

    "Hey this is Unix. I know Unix"

    With scientific banter like that, what purpose does the government have in getting involved?!
  • Screenplay eh? Looking for writers eh?

    Let's review some recent articles, shall we?

    The always flame generating "Creation Vs Evolution" thread

    A "freedom of information Vs. privacy" thread (with an added Republican "flame starter")

    A "Window's is OK thread"

    Ok, that's it, you're laying ground for a "Slashdot Reality TV Series" aren't you? c'mon, admit it!

    I can see it now, titled something like "Tweak the Geek".

    Here, let me write your first episode:

    Make a prank call to RMS pretending to be a Microsoft Attorney.
  • drama in science (Score:3, Interesting)

    by venicebeach ( 702856 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:36PM (#13251467) Homepage Journal
    Actually what I would like to see dramatized in a movie related to science is probably not what they are thinking of. One thing that will probably end up in there is the mystery, the process of discovery, etc..and all that can be compelling. But I think perhaps what is more important in the life of a scientist nowadays is the stuggle between the values of pure discovery and curiosity with the practical pressures of career, money, etc. That's the value axis I would like to see in a movie. The pressures of publication and of obtaining money for grants often press on one's sense of ethics, and most scientists are faced at some point with making the choice of personal sacrifice for the sake of science on one hand, or personal gain on the other. My scientist protagonist would struggle with that choice...
  • by Aggrazel ( 13616 )
    I just imagined 15 of a 50's version of a "scientist" locked in a basement somewhere trying to figure out what the world funniest joke is.

    "My Dog has no nose."
    "How does it smell?"
    -they all die

    Its a party in my head, all day long!
  • They need good plots!

    I mean, look what they did to Fantastic Four...
  • by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:37PM (#13251484)
    Stargate SG1, while being sci-fi, does try to adhere to real science and real scientific theory in many ways. Granted, some aspects can't simply to maintain the story. But a lot of the stuff they discuss and use is based in real theory. If more sci-fi shows would at least try to do that, I think it would be helpful.

    The thing is, I don't know that this kind of stuff really brings kids into science, no matter how much real theory they use. And frankly, when it comes to higher degrees, where the money is can be a big driver. During the .com boom, tons of kids where going into computer science programs and there was a sudden overflow of programmers, right around the time it went bust.

    I was a chemistry major my freshman year. Certainly not because of the money. The reason I left it was I had this sudden vision of what life would be like as a chemist and I thought, "Oh God, how boring." And that was the end of it for me.

    My girlfriend in college went into comp. sci. because of the money. When she graduated and got her first job doing it, the first thing she said was, "God, this is so boring." I said, "Well, didn't you like it in school?" She said, "No." I said, "Well what made you think doing it for a living was going to be any more fun?"

    Needless to say, her career as a programmer was short-lived.

    So I guess my point is, money will attract people, but it's the interest that keeps them. I think glamorizing it might bring some kids to find interest in it, but the fact is, most science jobs aren't all that glamourous and getting hit by the reality of that may make careers short-lived.
  • Why not just commission a few screenplays from Stephen [fantasticfiction.co.uk] Baxter [cix.co.uk]? Great hard SF writer. Sure, he's a brit, but nobody's perfect. :P
  • How about... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Luveno ( 575425 )
    ... making science jobs in the government extremely well-paying, so people flow to them naturally?

  • Wouldn't this be a great new way to get your funding requests approved. Not only can you read my proposal, but you can SEE THE PLAY!

      Watch in awe as the poor Scientist Hero struggles against opression and tyranny and battles with the Evil Finance Committee Member who always voted to deny his Funding Request for the project that could Save The World. Who will win? Find out...
  • not even close (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sewagemaster ( 466124 ) <sewagemaster@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:41PM (#13251536) Homepage
    if you see what's on tv, you'll find so many shows dedicated to doctors (ER, grey's acadamy, chicago hope) lawyers (law and order: special victims unit, criminal intent, trial by jury) and cops (CSI miami, ny).

    you never hear anyone even mention engineers in movies or tv series. it's got to do with the social culture of the states. 100% of the political leaders in China have an engineering or science degree. In the states? none! (source: IEEE spectrum magazine June 2005).

    • by CosmeticLobotamy ( 155360 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:59PM (#13251777)
      you'll find so many shows dedicated to doctors (ER, grey's acadamy, chicago hope) lawyers (law and order: special victims unit, criminal intent, trial by jury) and cops (CSI miami, ny). you never hear anyone even mention engineers in movies or tv series.

      You're right. And it would be so easy. The three-episode arc on tracking down an elusive double-free()d pointer practically writes itself.
    • Re:not even close (Score:3, Interesting)

      Actually my favorite depiction of Engineers in the movies is in Apollo 13. They show engineers responding to a crisis, rolling up their sleeves and making things work in a very no-nonsense way. Even when the crisis is first reported and you see all the people in the room lift their hands off their keyboards and hold them up and give the time-honored look of "I didn't do it, what the hell is going on here?" is very telling of true engineering culture.

      But you are right, engineers, mathematicians and scien

    • Re:not even close (Score:3, Informative)

      Samuel Wright Bodman was sworn in as the 11th Secretary of Energy on February 1, 2005 ... Born in 1938 in Chicago, he graduated in 1961 with a B.S. in chemical engineering from Cornell University. In 1965, he completed his ScD at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For the next six years he served as an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT ... IANAE, but I walways thought that a CE was an engineer
    • Re:not even close (Score:3, Informative)

      by khallow ( 566160 )
      100% of the political leaders in China have an engineering or science degree.

      Hmmm, that's not really true, but it's clear that there's a lot of them in the highest offices including the very top posts. They may really dominate the younger bureaucrats as well since a technical higher education seems much more likely among the younger generation of Chinese leaders. A counterexample to your original claim is the defense minister, Cao Gangchuan (he was in 2003, at least) who had training in the "Nanjing Numb

  • by Otter ( 3800 )
    Only 15 scientists? When I was in grad school at UCLA, we'd have a constant stream of production assistants coming to look at our labs to get ideas for set design. They'd be besieged by grad students, postdocs and the occasional professor, all shoving screenplays at them. (Because, you know, a PA has anything to do with what screenplay gets picked up...) Meanwhile, the PAs would be moaning "I hate my job. I wish I did something important and fulfilling like you!"

    I took a screenwriting class myself, there.

  • by Sagarian ( 519668 ) <smiller@alum.mit. e d u> on Friday August 05, 2005 @01:54PM (#13251712)
    Will they omit the part of the movie where the highly trained scientist/engineer's job is shipped off to India? Or will they just cut to the chase and produce the movies themselves in Bollywood?
  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @02:10PM (#13251893)
    How many impressionable young children have been inspired to become semiconductor designers by the Britney Spears Guide to Semiconductor Physics [britneyspears.ac]?
  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @02:46PM (#13252242)
    As a scientist who has peddled screenplays, let me tell you that they are approaching this ass-backwards, as usual.

    [relevant aside: Did you hear about the Polish actress? She was sleeping with the screenwriter.]

    If they want more good movies about science, the way to do that is not to encourage the generation of more screenplays. Fucking Hollywood is tit-deep in screenplays. You can't swing a dead cat without knocking over a stack of them.

    If the Pentagon wants more science movies, then start up a production company and buy the scripts, make the movies they want made. The train a couple of nose-mounted .50 cal Gatlings on Mirimax and get them distributed.

    More screenplays? They are farting into gale-force winds.

  • Yes and no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rAiNsT0rm ( 877553 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @04:04PM (#13253029) Homepage
    This is an attempt to stem the tide of Asian/Indian dominance of Science/Medicine/tech. Jimmy Neutron was one of the movies that glorified geekiness and there are a bunch of other movies that touch on it... but the thing is movies are the wrong avenue.

    When I was a kid I watched 3-2-1 Contact, Reading Rainbow, and most importantly Mr. Wizard. Mr. Wizard was a show on Nickelodian in which an older gentleman paired up with kids to do cool easily-reproducable experiments and teach science. He had a show where he used an old Mac to draw a spaceship and then airbrushed in some white smoke (like an early version of paint) and then animated the smoke and lift-off. This instantly drew me to computers and was the true start of my love and interest in science and computers. Movies are one shot deals and not grounded in reality, a weekly show that shows kids like yourself doing cool stuff will get kids interested.

    There is the show Zoom and Dragonfly TV, both which do a somewhat good job nowadays.. but they are sillier and not focused. But better than 99% of the current shows which don't have any moral/learning value at all like spongebob. Even cartoons used to have a real message at the heart of them and usually taught a valueable lesson, now it is all just fluff... gee, I wonder why American youth are so ignorant of any number of subjects. Hell, in a college World History class only four people got the bonus question of "Place an X on the country of India" and it was during the time of the Tsunami!!! These are sad times for kids/teen learning, I'm glad my mother had the sense to force me to watch educational TV... I'm thanking her now.

    Movies are not the answer.
  • the cool kids (Score:3, Interesting)

    by technoCon ( 18339 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @04:09PM (#13253077) Homepage Journal
    I've heard that if a young black man studies hard in school, he's said to be "acting white." Similarly, my daughter (salutatorian) observed anti-intellectual attitudes by "the cool kids" at school. Since I'm a geek, and before that a nerd, I feel these kids' pain. I tell them that living well is the best revenge and their slacking peers may well find their vocation includes "do you want fries with that?"

    Living well is the best motivation for our nation's youth. My son has an excellent grasp of technology. He also has an excellent legal mind. Though he could easily become a geek like his dad, I'm encouraging him to go into law.

    If our government wants to encourage science and technology, it will have to make science & engineering a better career choice. I've made a lot of money as an engineer, but I would have made a lot more as a lawyer. I have friends who are geeks and a few years older than me who'll probably never work as engineers again: Age discrimination. I took the LSAT myself after I noticed that I see a lot more old lawyers than I see old engineers.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard