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Lab Coats in Hollywood: Science, Scientists, and Cinema Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (February 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262014785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262014786
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,162,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"For movie-lovers everywhere, it provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how art and science meet in producing motion pictures we find delightful." -- Science



"For that strange corner where science nut meets movie buff, this is a very enlightening book." -- Booklist



"From 'prophetic' early films like 1929's Woman in the Moon science-focused movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey to admitted fiascos like The Core, Kirby's command of the subject makes for entertaining reading and, likely, more informed viewing." -- Publishers Weekly



"[O]ne of the most in-depth books on the intersection of science and Hollywood to date." -- ScriptPhD.com



"Kirby's book is honest and true, well-researched, unique, and easy to read." -- Jeff Schmerker, The Journal of Mind and Behavior



"This is a must-read for anyone interested in popular representations of science. Kirby describes the ways that visual media interpret, naturalize, and engage with scientific theories (be they well-accepted, controversial, or fantastical), and how some scientists in turn manipulate cinematic depictions for their own ends. Plus, have I mentioned how much fun it is?"--Carla Nappi, New Books in Science, Technology, and Society



"In the gap between science fact and science fiction stands the motion picture and television science consultant. In this brisk, lively account, David Kirby provides us with a history of these often unheralded scientific ambassadors to Hollywood and the critical role they play in shaping how film and television makers depict science--depictions which in turn shape how science is understood by the public at large." -- Zack Stentz , writer/producer ( Thor, X-Men: First Class, Fringe, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)



"Kirby convincingly shows us that the interaction between science and cinema is not limited to the portrayal of scientists and science themes in the media, but can significantly contribute to shaping a movie's core concepts and -- even more interestingly -- scientists' own activity in the research sphere." -- Massimiano Bucchi , Professor of Science and Technology in Society, University of Trento



"Kirby makes a compelling case that scientists and filmmakers need each other. I know of no other book like it." -- David Saltzberg , Professor of Physics and Astronomy, UCLA, and Television Science Consultant



"There have been many books written on the intersection of science and Hollywood. But David Kirby's excellent tome is the first to examine seriously the role of the science consultant in the movie-making process and assess its potential impact. Lab Coats in Hollywood is essential reading for anyone who shares Kirby's passion for bringing science into the service of storytelling for the silver screen." -- Jennifer Ouellette , science writer and former director, National Academy of Sciences' Science and Entertainment Exchange



"We all know -- or think we know -- what science consultants do on Hollywood films: they check accuracy. They would be wrong. David Kirby shows the relation as much more complex, and vastly more interesting than that. Hollywood wants a landscape of verisimilitude, an elaborately produced naturalness, and legitimization of their image of the future. For their part, scientists can alter the public status of their fields and gain a powerful hand in articulating visions of how their own fields might work, from supercomputing to genetic alteration. This is an original study of a field that combines real knowledge of Hollywood films, scientist-consultants and science studies. It is fun to read, taking you to the back and forth between science and film everywhere from 2001 to Contact and Minority Report. I recommend it with enthusiasm." -- Peter Galison , Pellegrino University Professor in History of Science and Physics, Harvard University, and Producer/Director, Secrecy

About the Author

David A. Kirby is Senior Lecturer in Science Communication Studies at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Manchester, England.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Science fiction movies have come a long way since _The Deadly Mantis_ or _Cat Women of the Moon_. Even in the fifties, of course, there were movies that did as good a job as the times allowed to show science and scientists. With the help of the superbly realistic visual effects we have had over the past couple of decades, the capacity for accurate depictions of science has increased, and so, too, has the interest of filmmakers who want to do such depictions right. Since film directors and producers are not scientists themselves, they hire out to get advice. Sometimes the results are good for the movie and also good for science, and sometimes not. Science consultation in the movies is the wonderful subject of _Lab Coats in Hollywood: Science, Scientists, and Cinema_ (The MIT Press) by David A. Kirby. Kirby is nicely positioned to write such a book; he was a practicing evolutionary geneticist before becoming a lecturer in science communication studies. And he obviously loves movies. The book reveals the surprising ways in which science has shaped movies, and even more surprisingly vice versa.

Kirby starts on a high note, looking at Stanley Kubrick's _2001: A Space Odyssey_, which he says is "the most scientifically accurate film ever made for its time." _2001_ is, of course, mostly about space flight and exploration in the future, and had its share of NASA consultants, but don't forget the "Dawn of Man" sequence; Kubrick got advice from the father-and-son anthropological team Louis and Richard Leakey. Consultants can make movies better by fact checking, or by advising on the look of tools and lab spaces. Consultants can increase the scientific plausibility of the movie, and if the plausibility is up, suspension of disbelief is maintained, and the audience is drawn in.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sounded like an interesting read, with anecdotes from film, etc. It's more like a textbook, and the films are mostly from the '90s. A disappointment.

I'd still like to read a book that lives up to this title.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Incredible book! Exhaustively researched, well-written, and an interesting read! You think you know something and then a book comes along that forces you to take a closer look!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MGonzalez on December 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I received this book as a present from a friend and found it fascinating. I love movies and science and this book has lots of fun stories about scientists' scuffles with movie directors. Even though it is a scholarly book, I thought it was well written and would recommend it to anyone who likes a behind the scenes look at how movies are made and who wants to learn about the creative side of science.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Lipp on November 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
LCH is a very dry, academic-styled book presenting the challenges and realities of scientists consulting on films. I found the writing style to be very repetitive and dense. As a scientist-photographer myself, I can appreciate the nuances of providing scientific truths for a Hollywood production, but just over halfway through realized I no longer enjoyed the reading.

In retrospect, I think the subject of the book is a potentially fascinating topic.

The writing style was much too dry and uninteresting for my personal taste.
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