Scientists say that apart from being a great source of entertainment, Hollywood flicks can inspire the next generation of physicists, astronomers and biologists.
A panel of scientists, filmmakers and media experts discussed the subject at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union this month, reports Fox News.
Movies can make a powerful impression should come as no surprise, said fellow panelist Arvind Singhal, of the University of Texas.
Singhal cited several studies showing that people, especially children, often model their behaviour on what they see on the big (or small) screen.
"The 'reel' can create the 'real,'" said Singhal.
Panel moderator Sidney Perkowitz, of the Emory University in Atlanta backed up that sentiment, referencing the 2004 climate-change disaster film 'The Day After Tomorrow.'
"It actually changed people's minds about global warming," said Perkowitz.ccording to Perkowitz, 22 of the 60 top-grossing movies of all time are science-fiction or superhero flicks, including history's No. 1 box office hit, 'Avatar.'
Some movies work hard to get the science right. But many make errors ranging from the understandable to the egregious, panelists said.
Though accuracy is preferable, even error-filled films can have a positive impact, said Shostak.
Getting a kid hooked may lead that kid to read up on science and scientific issues. And that might be the first step in creating a future scientist, he added,.
Sometimes the error itself can inspire discussion and learning, said others.
Singhal added, "Even if a film or media product is not very accurate, that becomes a teaching moment. So there's room for everything."