An Astrophysicist Reacts to “Don’t Look Up”

Dr. Becky takes a look at the astronomy scenes in the controversial dark satire film, Don’t Look Up, and teases out the space science from the Hollywood razzle-dazzle.

It’s funny that one (of the many things) I thought was pure Hollywood was the astronomical display that the character Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) uses to discover the extinction-level comet (spoiler alert!). Turns out, according to Dr. Becky, minus the fancy touch-screen animation part, the GUI is pretty close to real astronomical software.

Obviously, the plot hole the size of the Dibiasky comet is the fact that you couldn’t keep such a discovery to yourself. Lots of other observatories, professional astronomers, and amateur skywatchers are looking up, too, and would quickly see the comet and share their findings.

The most endearing part of the video is when Becky reacts to the “Don’t Look Up” comet-denying movement depicted in the film. She shares her frustration with current science denial and her enthusiasm for how looking up into the night sky is inspirational and revelatory in numerous ways (both personal and scientific) and how the quest to understand the heavens has led to so many essential sci-tech innovations down here on Earth.

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