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Astronomer to Discuss Science in the Movies


November 1, 2010 — Does it matter if Hollywood gets the science right in the movies? UW Professor Michael Brotherton thinks it does.

He will explain why during his Faculty Senate Speakers Series talk, "Science in the Movies," Thursday, Nov. 4, at 4 p.m. in Room 133 of the UW Classroom Building.

An associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Brotherton will answer the question, "Why get excited? It's just a movie." Good science is rare, he says, but even bad science offers teachable moments. He will explain examples of both the good and the bad during his talk.

Brotherton specializes in supermassive black holes in the centers of massive galaxies and how they shine when sucking down surrounding gas. In his studies he uses telescopes ranging from the Hubble Space Telescope to the Chandra X-ray Observatory in space, and from the radio telescopes of the Very Large Array in New Mexico to the Wyoming Infrared Observatory on Jelm Mountain. 

In addition to being a scientist, he is a science fiction writer, author of the well-received novels "Star Dragon" (2003) and "Spider Star" (2008) from Tor Books. He founded the NASA-funded Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers, which brings a dozen award-winning professional writers to Wyoming every summer.


Photo:
Mike Brotherton not only teaches and studies science, he incorporates real science in his science fiction works. 

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