Made by scientist Paul Vallett for his Electron Cafe blog, this funny cartoon is essentially about the differences between how science happens in the movies, and how science happens in real life.
On the one hand, I like it a lot, because the speed and ease of movie science does lead people to expect major breakthroughs to happen quickly, and makes them less critical of the sort of PR and journalism that tries to paint every new paper as a game-changer. In fact, you could probably make a case for movie science being one of the drivers that helps to create that bad PR and journalism to begin with. If decades of film and television have trained people to expect easy "Eureka!" moments, maybe they're likely to have less interest in nuanced results, or the fact that not all published science is correct. Unrealistic expectations matter.
On the other hand, well-done fiction is bound by reasonable constraints. There's not time for a "and then they do real science" montage in every movie. To a certain extent, I think this particular complaint might be a bit like wondering why nobody in Star Wars ever stops to pee.
Via JA Tetro
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.