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What ‘Back to the Future’ Can Teach Us About Exploring Space

3 Nov 2010, 12:47 UTC
What ‘Back to the Future’ Can Teach Us About Exploring Space
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WHERE WE’RE GOING, WE DON’T NEED ROADS On the face of it, a film a bout a time-traveling DeLorean is utterly ridiculous. Yet twenty-five years on, Back to the Future...

WHERE WE’RE GOING, WE DON’T NEED ROADS
On the face of it, a film a bout a time-traveling DeLorean is utterly ridiculous. Yet twenty-five years on, Back to the Future is regarded as a cinematic classic. To many, our adventure into space seems equally foolish. So what works in Back to the Future that can help us change people’s minds about space?
“Doc, what the hell is a jiggawatt?!”
For a movie that’s ostensibly about altering the space-time continuum, there is very little science in Back to the Future. How many people actually know how a flux capacitor works, other than by “fluxing”? (If you do, please come collect your Nobel Prize) And you know what? It doesn’t matter. The lack of hard, plausible science doesn’t in any way cheapen the film, and arguably widens its appeal.
I’m a big fan of science, but there’s a trend in modern space exploration that stresses hard, detailed science above all else. The problem, unfortunately, is that this ostracizes a large portion ...

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