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Scientists in Avatar

I saw Avatar last week. IMAX screen, 3D – the way it was meant to be seen. Many reviews online and offline criticized the movie for being unoriginal, and this brilliant observation on FAILblog definitely hits the nail on the head: it’s Pocahontas in space. But that should not stop you from seeing it. First of all, why does everything need to be original? I also saw Sherlock Holmes on the big screen last month, and enjoyed knowing that he would find a reasonable explanation behind all the “black magic” nonsense. I also enjoyed knowing that everything would end up all right in Avatar.

But what should really have you rushing to the theatre is that, while the science in Avatar may be fiction, the scientists are scarily real.

Over the years, Hollywood has taught us that scientists are the brains behind the destructive machinery, the egomaniacs out to grab what they want to further their own knowledge. In Avatar, the scientists are the good guys. In particular, Sigourney Weaver’s character Grace may be one of the most realistic scientists I have ever seen in a fictional story. She initially only cares about her research, but then revolts against her only funding source to protect the planet she’s gotten to know through her work. She’s a compassionate human character, devoted to and interested in her research subject, and using empiric knowledge to make a balanced decision. A far cry from the mad scientists you usually see on screen.

So maybe it’s like Pocahontas, but it’s Pocahontas in space, in 3D, and with proper scientists.

More on Avatar’s scientists from Sheril at The Intersection.
Interesting post about real “Avatar”-like studies at Stanford: Beyond Sigourney Weaver’s tank top

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