At Sundance, Scientists and Screenwriters Are Judges

29:15 minutes

The Sundance Film Festival counted two scientists and one sci-fi screenwriter among its judges this year. From Park City, Jill Tarter, Kevin Hand, and Jon Spaihts explain how science on-screen affects science in the lab, why 2001: A Space Odyssey is still the best movie ever, and why tractor beams and force fields aren’t sci-fi “baloney.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously included audio from the 2003 film The Core to illustrate the concept of “unobtanium.” The audio should have come from James Cameron’s 2009 film, Avatar.

Segment Guests

Jill Tarter

Jill Tarter is the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.

Kevin Hand

Kevin Hand is deputy chief scientist for solar system exploration at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Jon Spaihts

Jon Spaihts is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, California.

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Annie Minoff is Science Friday’s SciArts producer. She’s visited Olympic ski jumps and a nuclear reactor, all in the name of science.

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