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  • Writer's pictureAlex Cassem

Movies and Shows that won't make Scientists "Cringe"

I believe it can be safely stated not as a conjecture, but as a fundamental fact; achieving any degree in a scientific field will forever ruin scientific movies and TV shows.


One of the easiest examples is one from physics, that I have personally seen. In any movie where some physical quantity or effect seems complicated, the scientists in the pack comes out "of the dark" and says, "that's the quantum _____ effect." Sure, ok. Or most recently, I recall in Avengers: Endgame, where Tony said, "... find the eigenvalues of the Mobius strip....," for some reason.

And just for fun, if you are finding the eigenvalues of a Mobius strip under the Schrödinger equation, then you should get something like ~ (2l +1)/Lx^2 + n^2/Ly^2, since it is a slice of a cylinder twisted (hence the two lengths and one of them being extended).


But seriously, there has to be at least some good movies and TV shows where the science, is at least somewhat correct, or they don't throw terms everywhere. Well, here is a list of some movies and TV shows I at least think keep scientific literature constant while extending them in a sciencie-fiction sense.


Movies:

  • Interstellar (of course). They literally hired Kip Thorne to get the imagery of the black hole correct, and well, it paid off.

  • The Martian. The space travel is what you expect in a modern science-fiction movie, but what really sets it apart is how well it describes the botany and processes for making food (apparently plausible).

  • The Man Who Knew Infinity. This is a drama-movie-biography on S. Ramanujan, the famous mathematician from India who's work is still puzzling people til this day (from the 1920's)!

  • The Imitation Game. This is again more of a drama-biography based on the work Alan Turing did during World War 2 in the code-breaker program in Britain.

  • Shutter Island. This is the most true-to-the-bone psychological movie ever. This is the most I will say since explaining it any further may ruin the plot... It is that in-depth in terms of psychological behavior.

  • Blade Runner (and the sequel). I don't know how people don't enjoy these movies. The architecture is absolutely amazing, and really makes you think, "why can't we build these structures?" Also, the concept of artificial humans is well within the bounds of today + some imagination.

TV Shows:

  • Chernobyl. The same type as above (maybe this is its own category), going through the struggle after the Chernobyl incident and its true impact.

  • Genius, season 1. This is a tv-type series on the life of Einstein, and focuses on not just his scientific achievements, but what lead him to each one.

  • Fringe. Watch this no matter what. This is the TV show that was a partial (although larger then I will admit) motivation for becoming a theoretical physicists. This show is so great, if you want to watch it, I will gift you all 5 seasons (although season 5 is quite different, but the first 4 seasons are really what you want).

  • Dark Matters: Twisted but True. This is a drama-recount of historical-scientific events that dramatizes seemingly insane reasoning experiments, hence the description of twisted, but nevertheless yields helpful results... Definitely a good series.

  • Altered Carbon, season 1 & 2. A show that takes place about ~ 2321 that shows what the future could be like once we, "take to the skies," and exploit resources on other planets. It is not for the faint of heart though (in terms of bloodiness and, well, drugs).

I know I never stated good documentaries, but some of these are too good to not mention.


Documentaries:

  • Isaac Newton: The Last Magician. This documentary goes into everything (about) Newton's life. It is kind of hard to find, so here is a safe link: (click-me).

  • The Secret Life of Chaos. This documentary goes into the development of Chaos theory and their role in fractals in nature.

  • Order and Disorder. This documentary mainly goes into the historical developments of thermodynamics, and really emphasizes its impact on the modern world.

  • Everything and Nothing. A documentary on how we first studied "nothing" or as you figure out, what a vacuum is. Surprisingly deep.

  • Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity. To be frank, I hate (or strongly dislike) electronics. However, this documentary makes you really appreciate the development of the field from its birth until now (the Silicon Age).

  • The Ultimate Formula. Finally, this documentary is sometimes impossible to find, I swear. It is always being taken down, and is not on any search engines (rarely). But, it can sometimes be found on YouTube with part 1 (labeled episode 2) here, and part 2 (labeled episode 1, I know it's weird) here. I suggest watching this one at least, before it inevitably disappears again. It is on Curiosity stream however.... (although on and off).


Hope these are at least mildly entertaining during down-time periods, where we inevitably need a break, but want to still enjoy our topic (for me physics), but do not have the energy to actually do the practice.

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