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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Movies can make scientists

Around the world movies are extremely popular and has tremendous influence on the public psyche. Can this influence be tapped into in order to arouse people's interest in science, specially kids. There are space scientists and astronauts who have said that it is the TV series Star Trek that influenced them into taking the decision to become space scientists and astronauts.

There have been scientists who were inspired by a book to become scientists. There have been doctors and scientists who have been in their childhood influenced by their parents, teachers or others and that had tremendous influence into them becoming doctors and scientists. 


Thomas Alva Edison was not liked by teachers in school because he asked a lot of questions , his supportive and strong mother allowed him to leave school and his entire education was done at home. His parents encouraged him to experiment, allowed him to follow his heart and intuition and that's why he became such a great inventor and entrepreneur that we know. 


Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was deeply influenced and curious about the flight of birds, the collage in which he studied had two decommissioned war planes kept in order to explain the various aircraft subsystems. In his biography Dr Kalam says that he felt a strange attraction towards the planes and would sit besides them even after everyone had gone back to the hostel. This are the factors that influenced him into taking up aeronautical engineering at Madras Institute of Technology and later on went on to become the father of India's missile technology and at ISRO he headed the SLV project.


The examples of Edison and Dr Kalam are from the pre-television and movies era. But there is one thing that is very common whether it be past or present. What people chose to become in life is owing to some influences of childhood or some inspiration in youth. 


Take example of the country Israel , with a population of mere 8 million people it produces so many scientists, engineers and innovators. The youngsters there are influenced by their own countrymen who have done well in field of science and technology and they want to follow their example. 


So in India where movies are so popular and with satellite television beaming hundreds of movies a day, there should be movies made that encourage the spirit of scientific enquiry and experimentation. Such movies must be made that encourages innovation and finding innovative solutions to problems. 


The 2009 movie "Three Idiots" is an excellent example in this regard. There are youngsters who developed a drone similar to the one they saw in the movies and named it "All Izz Well".  Watching someone innovate encourages the spirit of innovation in other people. 


The innovation need not always be in terms of a physical product but there can innovation in terms of doing things, that increases productivity. 


Movies like "Three Idiots" ,"A beautiful Mind" ,"PK" and TV series like "Star Trek" should be made more and more so that bright young students are encouraged and inspired into taking up science as a career and maybe some of them will end up being great scientists and inventors of the future. 


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