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“Even the moon’s frightened of me!” Science and Scientists in the Movies Amy Bug Swarthmore College Dept. of Physics and Astronomy  Swarthmore CollegeStrawberry.

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Presentation on theme: "“Even the moon’s frightened of me!” Science and Scientists in the Movies Amy Bug Swarthmore College Dept. of Physics and Astronomy  Swarthmore CollegeStrawberry."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Even the moon’s frightened of me!” Science and Scientists in the Movies Amy Bug Swarthmore College Dept. of Physics and Astronomy  Swarthmore CollegeStrawberry Festival

2 “Even the moon’s frightened of me!” Science and Scientists in the Movies Amy Bug Swarthmore College Dept. of Physics and Astronomy  Swarthmore CollegeStrawberry Festival

3 “Even the moon’s frightened of me!” Science and Scientists in the Movies Amy Bug Swarthmore College Dept. of Physics and Astronomy  Swarthmore CollegeStrawberry Festival Fear not that I shall be the instrument of future mischief....I shall collect my funeral pile and consume to ashes this miserable frame, that its remains may afford no light to any curious and unhallowed wretch who would create such another as I have been. I shall die. I shall no longer feel the agonies which now consume me, or be the prey of feelings unsatisfied, yet unquenched…. -Frankenstein, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, 1818

4 “Even the moon’s frightened of me!” Science and Scientists in the Movies Amy Bug Swarthmore College Dept. of Physics and Astronomy  Swarthmore CollegeStrawberry Festival

5 zFormally or informally transmitted zTextbook or popular medium zFictional or authentic Images of scientists

6 What does scientific work entail? What personal traits matter?

7 E.g. Why should race or gender matter? It does matter … why? Deficit theories: structural obstacles like discrimination Difference theories: sociological or biological differences

8 From a 1st grade mathbook …

9 Images of scientists: persistently unrealistic... “There aren’t a lot of role models in our culture for women in science. Even when I think of a scientist, what comes to mind right away is a geeky old guy in a lab coat. - CWRU woman student, sophomore, Astronomy major (2004) Longitudinal study of men and women taking physics: M. Ong, Three themes have emerged: Looking the part of an accomplished physicist Gathering a supportive community Managing their simultaneous invisibility and hypervisibility “Draw a scientist”: M. Meade, In 1980’s studies in secondary schools, only 1% of boys, 14% of girls, 16% of student teachers drew a woman. 99% of children drew a white person. (Schiebinger, 1999)

10 Film and literary depictions... As portrayed by Haynes in From Faust to Strangelove, the six stereotypes of fictional scientists are alchemist stupid virtuoso (or absent-minded professor) unfeeling loner hero helpless victim of science idealist As portrayed by LaFollete in Making Science our Own, the four stereotypes of scientists who were written about in popular magazines in the first part of the 20 th century are magician expert creator/destroyer hero

11 Film clips to consider... Contact (1997) alchemist+ loner+creator/destroyer expert+ hero victim+alchemist/magician loner+ alchemist/magician+ creator/destroyer expert+idealist+?, expert+idealist+absent-minded prof. idealist+hero+?

12 The old and the new... “The Fly”, 1958 and 1986 (and 2004 …?)

13 Is the culture of science a factor? zThe “culture of no culture”? (Traweek) zRuled by the Mertonian norms? (Merton, Ziman) z“Combat physics?” (IUPAP 2001 participant) Each Friday, there is a ‘jam session’ where all groups get together to present their research. It mainly consisted of my research advisor telling the people in the other group that they weren’t making sense. -Harvard math student of a summer REU (1992) Interviewer: What kind of people are physicists? Edwin Teller: … just like other people; (though they ) need a little bit more imagination and a little bit better brains, for their job. - In the matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Kipphart and Speirs (1968)

14  Swarthmore CollegeStrawberry Festival Fin


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