This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Commonly introduced as "your personal astrophysicist," Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the world-famous Hayden Planetarium, spoke to a sold-out crowd Wednesday night at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City about the science in movies.
Tyson immediately engaged the audience by describing his first visit to Utah and the Hansen Planetarium 20 years ago where he bought his iconic "celestial vest." He began his lecture by quoting Mark Twain, "First get your fact's straight. Then distort them at your leisure," and advised that this should be the guiding principle of any artist.
Then, after removing his shoes, he settled in for a long night, taking the audience on a journey through popular movies while highlighting the science the filmmakers got right, where they fell short, and sometimes what they got completely wrong.
Tyson's lecture, which lasted for nearly three hours, was guided by a slideshow that divided films into chapters or categories based on their scientific references, including Evolution, Aliens, Time Travel and Killer Asteroids. Although Tyson kept his audience engaged throughout his lecture, he ended with an especially crowd-pleasing chapter dedicated to "The Night Sky," in which he recounted his experiences contacting "Titanic" director James Cameron about the "wrong" and "lazy" sky scene used in the blockbuster's theatrical release.
Tyson finished with a brief Q&A session, where he encouraged children in the audience to participate. The final question of the night from a young girl regarding religious scientists led Tyson to respond with a heart-felt and respectful appreciation for those who find value in science and spirituality.
Tyson's captivating performance truly resonated with every person's sense of scientific curiosity and exploration, and it was no wonder why the nearly 2,500-seat theater was sold out. When Tyson visits again, don't miss out on the opportunity to get tickets to his show. Until then, as Tyson says, "Keep looking up."