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Science in Science Fiction

A side interest of mine is researching into representations of science and scientists in science fiction, and the use of science fiction as a pedagogic tool for both formal teaching and public engagement.

Public Outreach talks

I offer Science of Sci-Fi public talks on topics including Spacecraft, Cosmic Catastrophes, The science of "Interstellar", or Our Moon in Science and Science Fiction. These can be pitched at a variety of levels and lengths depending on audience. Examples of these include:

  • Online talk: Mars in Science and Science Fiction, National Astronomy Week (November 2020). This talk can be found on youtube as part of the session at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dccLkDVt4dU.

    An 18 minute version of this talk can be found online here:


  • Public talk: “By the Light of the Silvery Earth: the Moon in Science and Science Fiction, at Warwick Museum (Jul 2019) and Warwick University (December 2019)
  • Public outreach talk on “The Science of Interstellar”, delivered to three different groups (2018-2020) including at the Artix Arts Centre, Bromsgrove, as part of an Arts and Science festival (2020).
  • “Science of Sci-Fi: Spaceflight” science outreach talk designed for public science communication (delivered five times to different groups, ranging from schools to amateur astronomy societies, 2014-2020).

Habitability and Science Fiction Studies

  • Poster: "Exploring Science Perceptions through Science Fiction", National Astronomy Meeting, Bath, UK. July 2021
  • “Who’s Moon”, chapter in “Doctor Who and Science: ideas, identities and ideologies”, eds Orthia & Harmes, McFarland (https://doctorwhoandscience.wordpress.com), Publication: December 2020 (Amazon)
  • Member, Science Fiction Research Association (2020-date)
  • Summer research student project on further exploring Cosmic Habitability (2019) – publication now in preparation.
  • Lecture and seminar: “Neocatastrophism” using historical and fiction examples as part of interdisciplinary taught postgraduate module on Habitability (2018-2021)
  • Publication on use of cosmological simulations to estimate cosmic habitability (Stanway et al, 2018, MNRAS, 475, pp. 1829-1842)

 

If you're interested in the science of science fiction, you may wish to read my "Cosmic Stories" blog entries on the subject!

A Universal Language?

If the laws of mathematics and science are the same everywhere in the Universe, then these might provide a key common ground for communication - as science fiction has explored.

The Incredible Shrinking Man

The visual imagery of humans struggling with everyday objects many times their own size, or encountering usually benign animals as terrifying monsters, captures the imagination. Hence the popularity of the SF of miniaturisation.

Planets for Sale!

Is it possible for individuals to own entire planets? Science fiction has explored this question more than once, in a range of different contexts.