The tenth episode of Science Goes to the Movies was released online this weekend. Hosts Faith Salie and Doctor Heather Berlin are joined by City College Physics Professor Vinod Menon. The topic of the episode is light, or more broadly the electromagnetic spectrum. Works covered in the episode include Star Trek, Star Wars, the now-cancelled television show Extant and The Fantastic Four.
While each episode has been focused on a theme, I think this episode approaches things a bit differently. Compared to previous episodes the topic is more in the foreground of the conversation than the cultural works being referenced. I think you get more science out of this approach, but that may not work with every topic. A work of science fiction may or may not be engaged with something as fundamental to science as light, but it’s not likely to be as integral to the drama or comedy of the piece as other scientific topics. I think the show benefits from mixing its approaches, and I would encourage the producers and hosts to do so.
Of note is that during Faith Salie’s November 21 appearance as a panelist on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, host Peter Sagal indicated that Science Goes to the Movies will premiere on PBS in January. I can’t find confirmation of this with either PBS or the City University of New York, which currently produces the program (and may well continue to when it moves to PBS).