Exploring the Science in Science Fiction
Speakers: Dr. A. Bowdin Van Riper, Martha’s Vineyard Museum and Dr. Charles Adler, St. Mary’s College
Recorded on April 7, 2021
How much do we know about the science behind our favorite science fiction stories? How scientifically accurate or plausible are some of the genre’s common themes and familiar tropes such as space warfare, robots, aliens, and exploring other worlds?
Join physicist Charles Adler and historian Bow Van Riper for a look at how the collision of science and drama shapes some of the classics of sci-fi film and TV, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, Star Wars, The Terminator, The Martian, and more.
About Our Speakers:
Dr. A. Bowdoin (“Bow”) Van Riper is a historian whose research focuses on the cultural dimensions of modern science and technology. He received his BA (geological sciences & history) from Brown University, and his MA and PhD (history of science) from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. He is the author of, among other things, Science and Popular Culture: A Reference Guide (2001), Rockets and Missiles: The Life Story of a Technology (2004) and Teaching History with Science Fiction Films (2018). A history professor for 21 years, he is currently Research Librarian at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Vineyard Haven, MA.
Chuck Adler is a physics professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He received his Ph.D. in Laser Physics at Brown University and has conducted research in a variety of areas of Physics including atmospheric optics, atomic physics, and Physics pedagogy. He has written over 40 research papers and is the author of the popular book Wizards, Aliens and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction (Princeton University Press, 2014), which was the co-winner of the 2015 American Institute of Physics Science Communication award. He has also taught a course for the Great Courses lecture series, “How Science Shapes Science Fiction.” He is a longtime fan of science fiction and fantasy beginning with watching Star Trek reruns when he was 7, and he hopes one day to write his own work.
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