a hip bunch

Many of the mod­ern he­roes on TV just hap­pen to be sci­en­tists.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE - By MUMTAJ BEGUM mumtaj@thes­tar.com.my

Many of the mod­ern he­roes on TV just hap­pen to be sci­en­tists.

THERE is with­out doubt that sci­ence plays a big role in sci-fi shows. The use of physics, chem­istry, math­e­mat­ics and technology and other el­e­ments in the field of sci­ence are present in shows like Star Trek, Bat­tlestar Galac­tica and Quan­tum Leap.

It is with sci­ence that a star­ship is able to travel from one galaxy to an­other in the blink of an eye in the Star Trek uni­verse.

With­out sci­ence, how could hu­mans cre­ate the hu­man-like ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence re­ferred to as Cy­lons in Bat­tlestar Galac­tica?

In Quan­tum Leap, it was a sci­ence ex­per­i­ment that threw Sam Beck­ett (Scott Bakula) to lit­er­ally live the lives of other peo­ple. At the same time it’s im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge that the sci-fi genre is re­ally just a more lib­eral way to ex­plore the hu­man race, whereby sen­si­tive is­sues like prej­u­dices and faith are weaved into the story ever so sub­tly.

Of late, sci­ence is pre­sented in a more ba­sic form with the he­roes us­ing it to solve prob­lems.

In 1985, an or­di­nary guy named MacGyver showed that sci­ence can be very use­ful when caught in a tough spot. When a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion arises, MacGyver just ap­plies his knowl­edge of chem­istry – mix­ing some or­di­nary house­hold item like vine­gar and an­other sub­stance – and voila! he has an ex­plo­sive.

For us au­di­ences too, there was al­ways some­thing use­ful to learn in al­most ev­ery episode of MacGyver – whether it’s sab­o­tag­ing a ma­chine or just open­ing a sauce jar.

In The X-Files, Scully (Gillian An­der­son) used ev­ery the­ory in sci­ence to re­fute her part­ner’s crazy con­spir­acy as­sump­tions. It was Scully who ba­si­cally kept Mul­der (David Du­chovny) grounded in re­al­ity, which saved him a cou­ple of times.

Ten years ago, sci­en­tists be­came even more prom­i­nent with the de­but of CSI. CSI pretty much made foren­sic sci­en­tists a hip group, even in­spir­ing young­sters to en­ter the field.

Never mind the corny lines in one of the CSI se­ries (you know which one), there is a great sense of tri­umph when sci­ence trumps the bad guy.

Nowa­days, there are many char­ac­ters on the small screen who hap­pen to be in the sci­ence field, which strength­ens the fact that it is cool to be smart. Here are some such shows: Fringe (Ntv7, Sun­day, 8.30pm) – The se­ries is based on the the­ory that there are al­ter­nate uni­verses, sim­i­lar to ours but with slight dif­fer­ences.

Two par­tic­u­lar uni­verses be­come con­nected when Dr Wal­ter Bishop (John Noble), an ec­cen­tric sci­en­tist spe­cial­is­ing in fringe sci­ence, crosses over for a per­sonal rea­son.

FlashFor­ward (8TV, Mon­day, 9.30pm) – A sci­ence ex­per­i­ment trig­gers a world­wide black­out. For two min­utes and 17 sec­onds, ev­ery­one in the world is un­con­scious and most of them have had a vi­sion of their fu­ture on a par­tic­u­lar date.

Two quan­tum physi­cists (Do­minic Mon­aghan and Jack Daven­port) are some­how in­volved at the core of the ex­per­i­ment and an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

LieToMe (pre­vi­ously on Ntv7) – To put it sim­ply, the char­ac­ter Dr Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) is a hu­man lie de­tec­tor.

How­ever, there is sci­ence in­volved in how he reads a per­son’s face and ges­tures to con­clude if he or she is ly­ing. Just re­mem­ber, even the white lies count with Lightman!

Bones (pre­vi­ously on Ntv7) – Trust Dr Tem­per­ance “Bones” Bren­nan (Emily Deschanel) to make a foren­sic an­thro­pol­o­gist smok­ing hot. Give her some bones and she’d tell you their life his­tory. Just don’t ask her who Madonna is, as you might not like the an­swer.

HouseMD (re­runs are on AXN) – Dr House (Hugh Lau­rie) has ex­treme meth­ods when it comes to solv­ing med­i­cal mys­ter­ies. Nonethe­less, he gets to the bot­tom of what’s ail­ing a pa­tient. Isn’t that more im­por­tant than bed man­ners?

TheBigBangThe­ory (yet to be shown in Malaysia) – In this sit­com, all the main char­ac­ters are PhD hold­ers, well ex­cept for one, work­ing as ex­per­i­men­tal physi­cist, the­o­ret­i­cal physi­cist, as­tro­physi­cist and en­gi­neer. Each one of them is try­ing to prove some com­plex the­o­ries or try­ing to build an in­no­va­tive item.

Yes, they are nerdy, with no con­cept of how to have a so­cial life but give them a snowflake and they can fig­ure out how to keep it in its orig­i­nal form for­ever.

Medium (pre­vi­ously on Ntv7) – The main char­ac­ter of this se­ries, Al­li­son DuBois (Pa­tri­cia Ar­quette), is a self-pro­claimed medium who uses her gift to catch crim­i­nals. How ironic then that she’s mar­ried to an aero­space en­gi­neer, Joe (Jake We­ber) whose job is not to as­sume any­thing but to use facts.

Well, need­less to say Joe has a sound mind, no mat­ter how weird it gets in the DuBois house­hold. And boy, do they get weird (think Freaky Fri­day).

Hur­ray for sci­ence: In a scene from Fringe, Wal­ter Bishop (John Noble) is only too happy to dig into the mys­tery that’s in front of him.

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