Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

Energy at the movies--tonight


nuclear power iconNuclear power is evil. Solar power is our savior. it the other way around? Tonight (March 9), at 7:00 p.m. EST, the University of Texas will present an entertaining program about how movies have depicted energy sources and therefore shaped public opinion and government policy, for 70 years. The evening will be filled with video clips, expert debates and humorous snippets about energy history, technology and policy, and you can watch the whole event, live, on Scientific American's video feed. The stream will also feature live tweets from our own blogger David Wogan, who has a choice seat in the audience.

How did the potential nuclear reactor meltdown in China Syndrome (Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon) affect public opinion about the technology? When the animated robot WALL-E (Ben Burtt voice) rapidly recharges himself with his solar panels, do people feel optimistic about solar's potential?

The evening's host and lecturer is Michael Webber, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, associate director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, and a Scientific American adviser. The expert panel includes film historian Charles Ramirez-Berg as well as Matthew Chapman, a screenwriter and director (and great-great grandson of Charles Darwin).

Tune in tonight. Follow the tweets (#energymovies).

Image by Hendrik Tammen at


Update: David Wogan's blog post summarizing the event can now be accessed on The Guest Blog.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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