Segments in this Video

Transporters and Space (03:31)


Dr. Graham Phillips looks at the science behind science fiction, beginning with "Frankenstein" and "Star Trek." Atomic level particles make it unlikely that people could be transported. Astrophysicist Katie Mack says that movie "The Martian" is quite accurate.

Pandemics and Black Holes (03:10)

A movie called "Contagion" portrays a flu pandemic that is scientifically sound. Physics guru Professor Kip Thorne worked on the film "Interstellar" and wrote a book explaining its science.

Is Science Fiction Damaging? (02:26)

Phillips warns that science fiction can create unrealistic expectations of science in the eyes of the public, such as in flying cars or jet packs. Science fiction can also make technological goals more achievable, says Mack.

Mercury Hotspot Areas (02:24)

Beautiful waterways in Australia have some of the highest levels of mercury. Mercury in the food chain can severely affect humans. Dr. Katrina McLeod and Dr. Hugh Jones have been studying mercury levels in the Derwent River for years.

Legacy of Contamination (02:36)

Mercury is a heavy metal; one of its most toxic forms is methyl mercury that is transported into the food chain. Over 0.5 milligrams of mercury per kilograms of fish should not be eaten.

Mercury Accumulation (02:42)

Dr. Simon Apte tests for mercury concentrations. He and fisherman Enzo Lisbona examine a variety of seafood including fresh fish and canned tuna, and Lisbona's hair. Mercury can spread far and is a global issue.

Derwent Estuary Program (03:43)

One hundred tons of mercury per year is transported to the Arctic, with half coming from the atmosphere. Measures to stop emissions from the source are underway in Australia.

Successful Removal (03:51)

Dr. Justin Chalker found in a research project that a sulfur polymer can be used to absorb mercury. Results show that 50 % of mercury can be removed in the laboratory.

Consume in Moderation (02:10)

Lisbona returns to Dr. Apte's lab to review results of mercury testing. Different fish have different levels of mercury depending on factors such as lifespan.

Credits: Science of Sci-Fi films / Mercury: Catalyst (00:41)

Credits: Science of Sci-Fi films / Mercury: Catalyst

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Science of Sci-Fi films / Mercury—Catalyst

Part of the Series : Catalyst
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $129.95
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From Matt Damon’s recent hit, The Martian, to Interstellar, Gravity and long-running favorite, Star Trek, Hollywood is obsessed with science fiction. But how accurate is it, in terms of the science? Dr Graham grabs a bucket of popcorn and sits down with astrophysicist, Dr. Katie Mack and physicist, Professor Lawrence Krauss to review Hollywood’s treatment of science. Even the not-so-plausible cartoon series, The Jetsons, gets an affectionate mention. Also, is the level of mercury in the fish we’re eating safe for our health? While scientists team up with Mona curators to monitor the effects of mercury contamination in Tassie’s picturesque Derwent River, an avid Sydney fisherman has his catch and a strand of his own hair analyzed for mercury levels with surprising results.

Length: 28 minutes

Item#: BVL117859

ISBN: 978-1-63521-295-2

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

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