January 21st, 2008
I just came across this story about the director Doug Liman and lead actor Hayden Christensen of Star Wars infamy visiting MIT to talk about the movie and the science behind it with physicists there.
WTF? The “science?”
And what’s worse, I think the MIT guys are buying into it with what I believe are misleading statements and loose language. I’ve kept up with quantum “teleportation” and the term is BS. What happens is that you use the action of quantum “entanglement” which means that two particles (for instance) share a relationship of particular properties (e.g., spins) and you move them apart very careful so they don’t interact with their surroundings. Then, you measure the spin of one of them. Simultaneously, the spin of the other “collapses” into the corresponding matched state. This has been referred to as the teleportation of information. The only thing traveling infinitely fast is the state of the other particle. We’re not actually teleporting any actual object or particle of any kind.
This quantum teleportation is nothing like the transporter beams of Star Trek or the “Bamfs!” of Nightcrawler.
But the MIT scientists, even with their minimal qualifying statements, don’t exactly say it isn’t in very clear terms. It could be the person writing the article putting their own spin on it, to make it as exciting and relevant as possible, which given the state of science writing (and we’ve got a showbiz article here), is very likely.
I haven’t jumped off the ledge quite, but Christensen’s statement about how a movie like Jumper with its unexplained teleporting will make kids want to grow up to be scientists is troubling to me. I mean, it might. But where’s the science in Jumper? A tenuous link to some lab experiments that aren’t actual teleportation? It might as well be Kirk Cameron making wild claims of proving the existence of God with bananas. At least Christensen gave Star Trek credit for inspiring kids to become scientists (arguably true in my case), and not Star Wars. The science in Star Wars…do not want.
I’m all for inspiring kids, but why not put some real science in movies instead of trying to justify it after the fact? Authenticity beats the veneer of authenticity any day. And will keep me from jumping.