Sep. 17, 2010

Dream Job: Science Consultant for Watchmen

by Leslie Taylor

How many university professors do you think are also Emmy award winners? Physics professor James Kakalios may be one of the few thanks to his video on the Science of Watchmen. He received more than 1.5 million views within a couple of months of this clip that uses the characters in Watchmen as a starting point from which to discuss the particle-wave duality that underlies quantum physics.
In the summer of 2007, Kakalios, who is the author of The Physics of Superheroes, received a call from a colleague who was looking to identify a science consultant who could advise producers of an upcoming superhero movie. She asked him: “Have you ever heard of Watchmen?”
Kakalios explains his response on the blog the X-Change Files:
When I stopped vibrating like a gong, I replied that I was familiar with the graphic novel and would be happy to help out.
Now, I should explain that my excitement resulted from Watchmen, a 12-issue miniseries published in 1985, being considered by many fans as the Citizen Kane of superhero comic books. Director Zack Snyder, Production Designer Alex McDowell, and Art Director Francois Audouy took great care to make their film as faithful as possible to the graphic novel. If faced with a choice of antagonizing a million rabid Watchmen fans – or a physics professor from Minnesota – well, I know which choice I’d make (and I’m the physics professor from Minnesota!).
About Leslie Taylor

Leslie is the online editor at and She has a background in oceanography and is passionate about getting non-scientists and young people to realize how cool science can be. She is also Science Friday's former web editor.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Science Friday® and SciFri® are registered service marks of Science Friday, Inc. Site design by Pentagram; engineering by Mediapolis.