What if they don really wear lab coats?
DRAWING BY DEBORAH DERR McCLINTOCKQ. Why does Hollywood tend to depict scientists as nerds, villains, or occasionally heroes instead of the more realistic types they obviously are?–S. Hawking A. Few people actually know real scientists, says Sidney Perkowitz in Hollywood Science. For example, in recent years, the U.S. has turned out about 26,000 scientists and engineers annually, plus thousands of physicians, but among the general population, this computes to only about 1 in 300 Americans being a scientist. “Unless you are one, chances are you’ve never encountered a laboratory scientist, and so it matters whether movies get it right, which they do– but only partly.” Often, movie scientists are introduced on screen as “Doctor” or “Professor,” dressed in the traditional white lab coat, as worn by the original Dr. Henry Frankenstein. Wild hair, a beard, and thick, stodgy eyeglasses, as with Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence Day, are also part of the code, adding an air of implied intell