Cover image for Science in popular culture : a reference guide
Science in popular culture : a reference guide
Van Riper, A. Bowdoin.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, CT : Greenwood Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
xvii, 314 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Q172.5.P65 V36 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Spaceships travel through time at lightspeed, piloted by human clones and talking animals. Serious injuries are healed with the wave of a medical gizmo. The media makes it all look easy. Can scientists hope to accomplish such amazing feats in the real world, or are they merely flights of fancy? This book is a fun look at what can, and can't, be achieved with current technology in today's laboratory experiments.

Fans of the Jetsons , Star Trek , and Star Wars will learn the facts behind the fiction through entires that describe the scientific inventions and procedures on the screen, and how they differ from the reality. Van Riper shows us who innovators like Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, and Isaac Newton really were before they were mythologized. He discusses how animals such as chimpanzees, dolphins, and elephants are portrayed in books and films, and what we really know about animal intelligence. This book lifts the curtain on science fiction, revealing how and where scientific laws have been discarded for the sake of a good plot.

Author Notes

A. BOWDOIN VAN RIPER is a professor in the Department of Social and International Studies at Southern Polytechnic State University. He specializes in the history of science and has written numerous articles on the history of space and aviation.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Van Riper (social and international studies, Southern Polytechnic State Univ., Atlanta) has prepared an interesting collection of 81 entries. Apparently a publisher's acquisitions editor saw a need for a book on this subject, and indeed, there is no other book with the same Library of Congress subject heading. Other books cover science fiction and popular culture, but none broadly demonstrates the accurate and inaccurate depictions of science in popular culture. Van Riper discusses a wider range of popular culture media than do books such as Lawrence M. Krauss's The Physics of Star Trek (CH, Apr'96) or Jeanne Cavelos's The Science of Star Wars (1999). Entries average four pages in length; their titles are often based on pop culture, such as "Death Rays," since there is no scientific term for the concept. The book's organization forced the author to treat each topic with a thin description of how pop culture has used or misused science. Entries contain small bibliographies; some mention "established Web sites" for further reading, but a small number of these have disappeared. Good light reading. Recommended. General readers; lower- and upper-division undergraduates. J. R. Kraus University of Denver

Table of Contents

Conventions Used in this Book Introduction Entries Acceleration Action-Reaction
Law of Alternate Worlds Androids Atomic Energy Chimpanzees Clones
Comets Computers Cryonics Cyborgs Darwin
Charles Death Rays Dinosaurs Dolphins Dreams Earthquakes Eclipses Einstein
Albert Electricity Elephants Epidemics Evolution Evolution
Convergent Evolution
Human Experiments Experiments on Self Extinction Flying Cars Food Pills Franklin
Benjamin Galileo Genes Genetic Engineering Gorillas Gravity Houses
Smart Ideas
Resistance to Inertia Insects Insects
Giant Intelligence
Animal Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence
Human Life
Extraterrestrial Life
Origin of Lightning Longevity Magnetism Mars Matter
Transmission Meteorites Mind Control Miniaturization Miracle Drugs Moon Mutations Newton
Isaac Organ
Transplants Prehistoric Humans Prehistoric
Time Psychic Powers Race Radiation Relativity Religion and Science
Reproduction Robots Sharks Space Travel
Interplanetary Space Travel
Interstellar Speed of Light Speed of Sound Superhumans
Theory Time Travel UFOs Vacuum Venus Volcanoes Whales General