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Movie & Television Physics Books

Books About Art Imitating Science


Most movies do a very bad job at representing physics, but sometimes a movie or television show can be used to teach real-world physics lessons. The following books are some examples of how to analyze a show to gain such lessons, even if the show itself involves a world where the laws of science are not the most important ones.

Don't Try This At Home

Kaplan Publishing
In contrast with most books along this line, which focus on a specific franchise or setting, such as The Physics of Star Trek (the book which pretty much started it all) or The Science of Harry Potter, this book by Adam Weiner takes an alternative tactic of just addressing movie physics in general, by taking specific examples from a wide range of movies and using them to illustrate physical processes in action. He begins by an analysis of the climactic car-boat chase in Vin Diesel's XXX, concluding that Diesel would have to travel at Indy-car-level speeds to catch up to the boat, which he clearly is not.

The Science of Harry Potter

Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc.
By and large, the Harry Potter books avoid references to the world of Muggles, except to dismiss it as rather uninteresting compared to the far more flashy world of wizards and witches. In The Science of Harry Potter, author and physicist Roger Highfield disputes that notion by presenting explanations of events in the Harry Potter books through the lens of a scientist, a Muggle wizard, using the Muggle magic of science. He uses game theory to explain how Hogwarts' House structure promotes competition and success, physics to explain the anti-gravity of brooms, biology to analyze the magical creatures of the Dark Forest, and chemistry to help you study for Potions class.

The Physics of the Buffyverse

Penguin Books
A scientific exploration of the world of Joss Whedon's Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel, Jennifer Ouellette's The Physics of the Buffyverse covers material ranging from the history and potential biology of vampires to the physics of kung fu, from the thermodynamics of magic to how string theory plays into alternate dimensions. A wide-ranging and enjoyable read, this book presents another fun look at how science works in a world where science doesn't always work.
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