Research News

Bad movie physics subject of free public lecture

“Bad movie physics from the perspective of art and science” is the subject of a free public lecture that is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15, in Stevenson Center Room 4327 on the Vanderbilt campus.

The speaker is Tom Rogers, a chemical engineer who teaches high school physics in South Carolina, maintains the website Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics and published a companion book by the same name in 2007. He will discuss how the bad physics portrayed in Hollywood movies detracts from the art of moviemaking while reinforcing physics misconceptions.

One of his examples is Hollywood’s penchant for exploding cars. In reality, wrecked cars rarely explode; however, fear of explosions is a common excuse for not wearing seat belts and frequently causes onlookers to pull people out of wrecked cars without checking carefully for injuries. Rogers has developed a rating system that ranges from GP (good physics in general) down to XP (physics from an unknown universe). He gives the recent movies Star Trek 2009 and The Day the Earth Stood Still both XP ratings. He will also discuss how this junk science can be used as an effective teaching tool.

Contact: David F. Salisbury, (615) 322-NEWS