Scientists Vote 2001 The Most Realistic

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is the science fiction film with the most realistic vision of humankind’s future, according to a poll of over 50 international scientists. The survey, commissioned by Sky Movies to coincide with their Dark Visions season, was completed by academics from institutions including Oxford University, University of St Andrews, University of Oregon, The SETI Institute and King’s College. They were asked to consider scenarios from modern sci-fi classics and rate how likely they are to occur in reality.

Artificially intelligent super computers with the power to conspire against people, like Arthur C. Clarke’s HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, was considered the science fiction imagining most likely to become a reality.

Mark Brake, Professor of Science Communication, University of Glamorgan, comments:

“2001 raised science fiction cinema to a new level. The unfolding four-million-year filmic story brilliantly portrays Arthur C. Clarke’s disturbing man-machine encounter with HAL a computer turned murderer. This unsettling scenario is not something we would ever want to imagine happening in reality, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that artificial intelligence could turn on its creators. “

Two other sci-fic films closely followed 2001: A Space Odyssey in the poll, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and The Andromeda Strain. Blade Runner features artificial humans known as ‘replicants’, the idea that we may one day develop the technology to create imitation humans was considered a potential future reality.

Stephen Hsu, Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Oregon comments:

“There is every reason to believe that technology will someday permit us to genetically engineer human-like life forms like the ‘replicants’ in Blade Runner. Let’s hope we don’t exploit them for dirty and dangerous tasks as depicted in the movie, but rather allow them full human rights from the beginning. For those who saw the movie but failed to notice, Harrison Ford’s character (the protagonist) is a replicant, although he doesn’t know it.”

The Andromeda Strain follows the events which unfold when an unknown micro organism is accidently brought to earth from space and threatens to cause catastrophic damage to humankind. Such a scenario was considered a serious possibility by those polled.

Barry DiGregorio, Research Associate for the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology and International Committee Against Mars Sample Return, comments:

“I have been campaigning against NASA‘s plans to bring back samples from Mars as I believe they could possibly endanger the Earth’s biosphere with microbial contamination from the planet. In a worst case scenario this could lead to an Andromeda Strain type situation. My concerns are based on the Viking biology data that were conducted on Mars in 1976, NASA have always opposed the claim that their data found microbial life on Mars however two NASA astrobiologists have publicly stated otherwise and I have worked with them to bring attention to their finds. “

The scientists polled also voted 2001: A Space Odyssey as the film they most admired for its use of science and Blade Runner as the best science fiction film. 86% said that an interest in science fiction played a part in making their education and career choices.

The scientists who took part in the survey were from a range of disciplines including astrobiology, stem cell research, physics, astronomy and medicine.

Blade Runner (Monday 26th May, 8pm) and The Andromeda Strain (Wednesday 28th & Thursday 29th May, 10pm) can be seen in Sky Movies Dark Visions season, Monday 26th May – Sunday 1st June, Sky Movies Sci-fi/Horror.



    May 28, 2008

    Three absolutely classic films!

    2001 though must be respected for sticking to it’s guns with regards to sound. I’m sure I read somewhere than mr kubrick had to fight to keep the outside space scenes quiet.

    And what about the visuals! Even today they stand up very well to similar modern cgi sequences.


    May 28, 2008

    The space-clipper scene in 2001 is still just about the best spaceship sequence in the cinema. And as for a prophecy of the future, where’s the base on the moon? I WANT A BASE ON THE MOON!!!


    May 28, 2008

    Well, 2001 has arrived – Sky Movies says so!

    Its a shame really that SF is not given enough credit in academia and life in general for its ability to extrapolate the effects technology can hav on the human condition. It is a powerful tool and I find it sad that its usefulness only enters general discussion when a new FX blockbuster is released or a TV network poll elevates it to a status worthy of interest.

    Personally, I hate the film 2001, but there is no denying the potency of the timeless images of human life in space or the vision of its creators. In a way I am glad that Sky comissioned the poll, it has opened the door for new discussions of our relationships to science and space travel through the filter of classic SF films. I hope many a pint is sunk during an argument over whether Dekhart is human or not! As to 2001, it has been and will remain to be the dominant vision of what life in space could be like and it is the closest the majority of us will ever get to experiencing the vast silence of the void.

    Not surprising when you take into account Neil Armstrong’s comments during an interview at NASA-Johnson Space Centre in Sept. 2001 that the film was ‘very authentic in the way space looks and the way vehicles move’ and he should know – he’s been there!

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