All posts by Miles Traer

The many stages of being a geoscientist in film

The geological timetable is to a geologist what the periodic table is to a physicist/chemist; it is the fundamental document by which we understand our world. Film is to a geologist what whiskey is to the journalist; it is a primary source of entertainment and inspiration.

There have been geoscientists in film for nearly as long as there have been films. These geoscience characters have undergone their own evolution over the 80+ years they’ve appeared on the silver screen. And the geological time table broadly describes the evolution of life on Earth. So here, I present the geological timetable of geoscientists in film to track their crucial evolution through cinematic history. Continue reading The many stages of being a geoscientist in film

Visit me at AGU this year!

This year, I will be co-convening a session at the American Geophysical Union’s annual Fall Meeting in New Orleans! The session is titled “Science and Sci-Fi: Using Real Science to Explore Fictional Worlds,” and my colleagues and I will be there discussing various sci-comm projects linking science to popular culture. Please come find us and check it out!

My presentation will be about carbon footprints, and how we can use our combined knowledge of carbon accounting and climate change to help our resident superheroes be even better for the planet! Click the image below to see a full-size version of my poster.

The movies that broke Rotten Tomatoes

The popular film review site, Rotten Tomatoes, gives its users two different scores to help them determine the quality of a movie. There’s the Tomatometer score, which tells us what percent of critics gave the film a generally positive review. And there’s the Average Rating Score, which tells us how good a film is based on a one-to-ten scale. These two numbers seldom agree.

Broadly speaking, the value that we, the viewing public, truly want to know is the Average Rating score. Yet advertisers prefer to use the Tomatometer score. I suspect that this is because the Tomatometer generally overvalues good movies, which makes “okay” films look better than they really are. But that’s not what I wanted to investigate. I wanted to see if there are movies out there that break Rotten Tomatoes — which is to say, I wanted to see if there was a solid relationship between the Tomatometer scores and the more valuable Average Rating scores, and if any movies broke that trend. Continue reading The movies that broke Rotten Tomatoes

Cassini Remembered in Cartoons

The Cassini satellite recently finished her mission after 20 years flying through space and 13 years orbiting Saturn and her moons. It was a spectacular mission that gave us mind-bending discoveries, spectacular confusion, and a perspective of our pale blue world floating in the vast cosmic dark. I recently made a cartoon to commemorate the mission, and I wasn’t the only one. Here are several of the Cassini cartoons with all credit to the group of inspired artists who created them. Continue reading Cassini Remembered in Cartoons