hollywood and science, be prepared, health-care and jobs

This article was published in 2007. In internet time that makes it about 176 years old, though it still might be relevant, UCF physicist says Hollywood movies hurt students’ understanding of science

“Students come here, and they don’t have any basic understanding of science,” he said. “Sure, people say everyone knows the movies are not real, but my experience is many of the students believe what they see on the screen.”

Some Hollywood effects, especially in the context of a somewhat realistic movie such as Speed ( as compared to the Transformer movies) are so seamlessly executed I can understand where some teens might think its possible for a bus to leap a 50 ft gap. Though special effects to tend to inflate one’s expectations of what is possible and diminish appreciation for how difficult scientific break throughs are in the real world. Learning cannot always be fun and professors can get frustrated with students that do not share their enthusiasm. Professor Efthimiou didn’t give up,

Efthimiou spends hours watching hundreds of films to find scenes that illustrate the physics concepts he needs to teach. For example, he uses a scene from Superman when the hero flies around the earth an in effort to reverse time and save Lois Lane from death. When students show up to class, they dissect the scenes and learn the real laws of physics. In the Superman example, he explains the real way angular momentum works.

“It’s a lot of work, but it is worth it,” he said. “It’s a way to get them science literate.”

Why would a veteran professor go through all of that trouble” Because he, like many scientists across the United States, is worried that if science and math education doesn’t improve, society will pay the price.

“All the luxuries we have today, the modern conveniences, are a result of the science research that went on in the ’60s during the space race,” Efthimiou said. “It didn’t just happen. It took people doing hard science to do it.”

be prepared

Medical dramas make medicine interesting, but as far as I know there is nothing to be done for heath-care wonkery. That might be why the scare stories are effective at the margins of the debate. Money, savings and jobs on the other hand are issues that everyone can relate to. Health Care Cost Growth and the Economic Performance of U.S. Industries (ESI=employer sponsored insurance)

The study found that excess growth in health care costs has adverse effects on employment, output and value added to GDP in the U.S., and that these effects are greater for industries where high percentages of workers have employer sponsored insurance. For example, the study estimated that a 10% increase in excess health care costs would reduce employment by about 0.24 percent in an industry such as motor vehicles, where about 80% of workers have ESI, compared with about 0.13% percent drop in the retail trade, where about one-third of workers have ESI. Economy-wide across all the 38 industries, a 10% increase in excess health care costs growth would result in about 120,800 fewer jobs, $28 billion in lost revenues, and about $14 billion in lost value added.

Rand used Canada as a comparison because they have nationalized health-care and found they had no corresponding downward pressure on industry growth or jobs as we do with ESI. So as not to confuse the issue, current plans for U.S, health-care reform do not include a nationalized plan similar to Canada, only a public option and the creation of an insurance exchange. Businessweek is running a story citing this research. Strange times.

And related, the crazy horror stories about Canadian health-care debunked here.

wet red shade

For the reader that was looking for the article entitled Lived Space in Architecture and Cinema. I fixed the link on the original post.