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I have always enjoyed Carolyn Porco’s talks. She is the director of CICLOPS, the Cassini Imaging Science Team. Cassini is currently in orbit around Saturn.

In this talk given at the AAI 2009 Convention she covers some interesting topics (see video below). These include the question of science and atheism, can science determine if a god exists and the contribution of Galileo to the scientific method.  I think the latter subject is very important in the International Year of Astronomy. We keep being distracted from it by religious apologists whose only motive is to find excuses for the Church’s treatment of Galileo, in the process often distorting or denying Galileo’s scientific contributions. Porco also discusses problems with the modern-day public attitudes towards science.

A soap opera?

I have often though that a TV soap could be produced based on a scientific institute and showing all the normal human crises that scientists face – just like non-scientists. But at the same time portraying the satisfaction and exhilaration that comes from doing science. I am sure this could be much better than the routine soaps based at hospitals and police stations.

Carolyn Porco thinks the same way. And she has experience with Hollywood to back her up. She was a consultant for the film Contact, based on Carl Sagan’s fictional book Contact.

She includes some amazing images taken from her work on the Cassini mission. A really dramatic shot of Saturn, back lit by the sun and the small blue dot of the earth peeping through its rings.

Watch more videos from AAI 2009.

Thanks to RichardDawkins.net: ‘Science in Hollywood’ by Carolyn Porco.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGSv-uZCOyY

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