The material in this book forms the basis of an interdisciplinary, college-level course, which uses science fiction film as a vehicle for exploring science concepts. Unlike traditional introductory-level courses, the science content is arranged according to major themes in science fiction, with a deliberate progression from the highly objective and discipline-specific (e.g. Reference Frames; Physics of Space Travel and Time Travel) to the very multi-disciplinary and thought-provoking (e.g. Human Teleportation; Science and Society). Over 100 references to science fiction films and television episodes are included, spanning more than 100 years of cinematic history. Some of these are conducive to calculations (solutions included).
Barry Luokkala is a teaching professor and director of undergraduate laboratories in the department of physics at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his BS and MS degrees in physics at the University of Pittsburgh, where he did experimental research in the physics and chemistry of the ionosphere. He received his PhD in experimental condensed matter physics at Carnegie Mellon University. He has also served as program director for the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the sciences and has been a science consultant for the Sloan Foundation Screenplay Competition in Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama.
"Exploring Science Through Science Fiction. A spark from a class at Carnegie Mellon gave birth to this book of great depth and breadth in the world of science and various fiction surrounding it. It offers a great look into the known and unknown and is sure to make you think." (Christian Pavlovich, Film Matters, Vol. 9 (1), 2018)
"Barry B. Luokkala's Exploring Science Through Science Fiction offers a wide-ranging treatment of fundamental scientific questions and concepts as dramatized in science fiction. Designed for an undergraduate science course, this textbook addresses the varying degree of plausibility inherent to many popular science fiction constructs . . Exploring Science through Science Fiction strikes a delicate compromise, introducing readers to the fantastical side of science without being completely overwhelming." (Jen Jenkins, Journal of Science Fiction, Vol. 2 (1), September, 2017)
"Exploring Science through Science Fiction fits into a lineage of works that use science fiction as a starting point for science education. . The book is very clear and well written. . the book is a good text for an optional one-semester undergraduate course, but it can also be used as a source of ideas for sci-fi illustrations of particular points in any core science course, even at high school level. . I highly recommend this book." (Jerzy Brzozowski, Science and Education, Vol. 25, 2016)
"Luokkala has recognized the usefulness of this bridging of the arts and sciences in the classroom, and his textbook . comes out of more than a decade of teaching an undergraduate course on this topic. . it provides an engaging introduction to scientific thinking. The proposed discussion topics may indeed work best in a mixed classroom, in which students will be able to learn how views on the topic under discussion may differ between scientists and non-scientists." (Kanta Dihal, Foundation, Vol. 122, 2015)
"The author presents many good discussion and exploration topics, as well as back-of-the-envelope-type estimation problems. The references include DVD release and scene number information, making the chapter and end-of-book bibliographies highly valuable to instructors interested in bringing such subject material into their classroom. Summing Up: Recommended. All undergraduate students, faculty, and general readers." (S. A. Curtis, Choice, Vol. 51 (10), June, 2014)
"Exploring Science Through Science Fiction is organized into seven chapters centered on common themes in science fiction film and literature . . this book is an engaging and readable text. . The textbook has the ability to spark in its readers an interest in and appreciation for science and technology. Luokkala provides ample resources in the appendices for interested readers to continue their own investigations." (Emily Margolis, Quest The history of Spaceflight, Vol. 21 (3), 2014)