At Sundance, Scientists and Screenwriters Are Judges
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.
Jill Tarter is the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.
Kevin Hand is deputy chief scientist for solar system exploration at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Jon Spaihts is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, California.
Annie Minoff is a producer for The Journal from Gimlet Media and the Wall Street Journal, and a former co-host and producer of Undiscovered. She also plays the banjo.