Monday, March 8, 2010

Science and the Oscars

I have written a number of times (see here and here, for examples) about the importance to America of cultivating the next generation of scientists. While the most important reason I had for writing Warnings was to gain some much-deserved respect for meteorology, my secondary reason was to help inspire the next generation of scientists in general and meteorologists in particular.

So, it was of interest while I was watching the Academy Awards last night when they got to the "science" Oscars.  Didn't know there were Oscars for science?  There are, and there have been for years.  But, blink and you might have missed them.
The lovely Elizabeth Banks was introduced, came out to the microphone, and mentioned that she had presented those awards last month and showed a group photo of the winners. That was it! They didn't even do a roll of the names on the giant video monitor. I tried to find a video clip and I can't even find that, even though the whole thing couldn't have been thirty seconds in length.

And, the winners didn't receive a real Oscar!  They got a plaque with an Oscar pictured on it. For example, the people in the shot below are Markus Hasenzahl, Andreas Loew, Volker Massmann and Dr. Klaus Anderle who received a science "Oscar" for the Spirit 4K film scanning system. 

Now, I don't think a science award will ever be as glamorous as "best director." But, if they
can give a 'real' Oscar for "sound mixing" (won by Paul Ottosson and Ray Beckett) why can't they give, say, one science award each year during the big Academy Award ceremony?  Why can't they take 15 seconds to do a "roll" of all of the winners on the big screen monitor?  That would take far less time than one of those "production numbers" (am I the only one who thought the production number two-thirds of the way into the telecast was reminiscent of The French Mistake?).

I'm not knocking sound mixing or any of the other awards. What I don't understand is why we can't, at least in a small way, honor the people with the same level of prestige who invent the technology that makes sound mixing possible.  Who knows, some child somewhere might be inspired by that gesture. 

Heck, at age 13, I might have been inspired to develop some great new movie technology if I had thought it might lead to a chance to meet Elizabeth Banks!  Next year, George Clooney should do the science awards and it might inspire some young bright young lady. 

Hollywood, are you listening?  

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