The Science of Fiction

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The Science of Fiction


  Last updated May 11, 2017 at 3:33 pm


If we didn’t have science fiction, we might not have satellites. At least, that’s what Andy Weir, author of The Martian, thinks.

Using Arthur C. Clarke basically inventing the idea of satellites as an example, he says that ‘science fiction serves a purpose in that it gives scientists something to science’.

And Space Archaeologist (yep, that’s a thing) Alice Gorman tends to agree: ‘I think it kind of prepares us mentally for looking forward’.

But neither of them is too fussed about the science part of science fiction being exactly pinpoint accurate – Andy just wants the made up science to be internally consistent, and Alice is happy as long as the story is compelling enough to engage people with science.

As for the people who bring this stories to life – well, they care deeply about scientific accuracy, as Ian Cope from Rising Sun Pictures tells us: ‘With things like effects and dynamic simulations, we’re actually setting up real world physics simulations’.

But he readily admits that as soon as the story demands it, or as soon as it would look cooler, the facts do take a backseat. As long as a sequence looks realistic, and has a grounding in reality, they tend to be happy – and so do the filmmakers they work with.

So what do you think it is about space and science fiction that captures our imaginations, and challenges us to think about our future? Why are these the types of stories we keep going back to?

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Science and technology is as much a part of our cultural fabric as art, music, theatre and literature. They play a significant role in our daily lives, yet, in a world dependent on science, we often take them for granted. Australia’s Science Channel believes every citizen has a right, and a responsibility, to be informed, and our mission is to create programs to bring that about.