People who would never read about the latest genomics discoveries will turn out in droves for scifi movies like Prometheus that deal (poorly) with genomics. How can we turn pop culture events into teachable moments that help mainstream audiences understand the fundamentals of real science? We'll explore few ways to do this that can be applied in journalism, teaching, or other forms of science communication. Three of the obvious avenues of engagement are: 1) debunkery (showing how Prometheus gets it wrong), 2) complimentary stories (what is the real science that could make the panspermia scenario in Prometheus possible?), and 3) "found science" stories where we pick scenes or moments that can be used to demonstrate concepts and principles in science (e.g., fight scenes and classical mechanics). But those are just the beginning. Bring your questions and ideas!
- In our writing, how can we strike the right balance between having fun, keeping it at the right level for a general audience, and still making sure the science is accurate?
- How do we measure "success" in conveying difficult scientific ideas to a lay audience?
- What are some good examples of using science fiction to explain science to a general audience? Bad ones?
- Do we risk dumbing down or inappropriately spicing up our stories by using science fiction to explore science?