The first impression is often the last impression. And so it is with science too. If our earliest experience as a child to science was a bad one, then it will shape us for our entire lives. But if you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, then you saw some amazing possibilities of science through the big screen. As kids, these movies perhaps made us feel like we could change the world, alter the future, and “boldly go where no man has gone before.”
So let’s go to the movies shall we?
Back to the Future (1985): “Don’t worry. As long as you hit that wire with the connecting hook at precisely 88 mph, the instant the lightning strikes the tower… everything will be fine!” – Doc Brown
I was in elementary school when this movie came out and it made a big impact on me. I had convinced myself that I could build a protype time machine and eventually build it. How amazing would it be to go into the future to correct the outcome of a present mistakes? I was inspired by the wild haired Doc Brown, hover boards, flying cars, and the banana-fueled flux capacitor.
I learned that science, reasoning, and a little luck could open up new possibilities.
Jurassic Park (1993): ““Life breaks free. Life expands to new territories. Painfully, perhaps even dangerously. But life finds a way.” – Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park
Who isn’t fascinated with dinosaurs in the base case? Here we had a movie that brings them back to life and puts them in a theme park! Just look at the success of the sequel Jurassic World. This story line just resonates with people. As a kid, didn’t you think maybe it could be possible to extract dinosaur blood from amber and bring a dinosaur back to life? And, let’s be honest, who of us didn’t want to have a cute little velociraptor baby for a pet?!
I learned why we need to evolve beyond the past, even if the past is fascinating, so we can fully live in the present.
Apollo 13 (1995): “Houston, we have a problem.” – Jim Lovell
Based on a true story, we sat amazed and fascinated at the danger of space travel in the 1970’s and how much precision and science it took to get Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) and crew back to earth. Then with all the technology of the space program they had to rely on the moon’s gravity as a ‘slingshot’ to get back home. The movie managed to make physics and calculating the remaining shuttle power a hand sweating experience.
I learned the importance of continuing to explore. Exploring the unknown is what humans are called to do.
Twister (1996): ” I gotta go Julia, we got cows” – Melissa
We were all rooting for Dr. Jo Harding (Helen Hunt) to be able to put her measuring device in the direct path of a tornado. An invention that could predict the path of a tornado and a great story of grit and determination – not to mention a female science heroine!
I learned determination is paramount for science to be successful.
Armageddon (1998): “The human thirst for excellence, knowledge; every step up the ladder of science; every adventurous reach into space; all of our combined modern technologies and imaginations; even the wars that we’ve fought have provided us the tools to wage this terrible battle” – President
How incredibly frightening would that be if an asteroid the size of Texas was headed to earth. But thank goodness for NASA, Ben Affleck, and Bruce Willis to use science, a nuclear bomb, and drilling techniques to save the day. And who could forget the incredible Aerosmith cover song! This movie gave me hope that if the worst possible came our way – that science, along with amazing heroes, could save us.
I learned that science can save the world.
Did these movies resonate with you to consider, even dream, that science could bring about the impossible? What were your favorite science-themed movies as a kid?