Chemistry on the Silver Screen Held at Three Locations

The Webinar “Chemistry on the Silver Screen” was held at three locations in the Sacramento Section, a first! Between all three locations, there were a total of 60 attendees. Sacramento City College hosted the largest contingent with 27 people, followed closely by Delta College with 20, and UC Davis with 13.

The group at Sacramento City College that attended the webinar Chemistry on the Silver Screen

The group at Sacramento City College that attended the webinar “Chemistry on the Silver Screen”

One of the presenters was Donna Nelson, President-Elect of the ACS and former science advisor for the show Breaking Bad. She was flipping through the March 2008 issue of Chemical & Engineering News when she came across an interview with Breaking Bad producer Vince Gilligan. In the piece, Gilligan expressed the difficulty of writing a show about chemistry without a scientific background, and he welcomed constructive comments from experts. I contacted the reporter who penned the article, and asked her to relay my contact information to Gilligan. I wasn’t sure if he would ever get back with me, but a week later, I received a call.

Another one of the presenters was Ann Merchant, Founder of The Science & Entertainment Exchange. The Exchange is a program of the National Academy of Sciences that connects entertainment industry professionals with top scientists and engineers to create a synergy between accurate science and engaging story lines in both film and TV programming. The Exchange recently celebrated its 1,000th consult.  Past consults have included films such as Big Hero 6, The Amazing Spiderman, The Avengers, BattleshipIron Man 2, Prometheus, Thor, and Tron: Legacy, as well as hit television programs like Castle, Covert Affairs, Criminal Minds, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Fringe, The Good Wife, and House.

One of the fascinating tidbits from the presentation was that the Natalie Portman character in the movie Thor, Jane Foster, was originally supposed to be a nurse as she was in the comic books. For the movie, in consultation with a member of The Exchange, she was made into an astrophysicist.

The webinar was a “Program-in-a-box” from the Younger Chemists Committee of ACS. The box came with a movie trivia game, a networking bingo game, and raffle tickets for the several prizes that were also included.

Author: Bill Miller

Bill Miller is a Councilor of the Sacramento Section of the ACS. He also teaches chemistry at Sacramento City College.

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