“The jungles of the Peten are hot and sweaty. Most of the best places for archeology are. Field seasons are especially hot, since they are always during the driest time of year so that the site doesn’t get flooded. Howler monkeys boom from the parched trees, which barely twitch during the windless days. Meanwhile, pasty grad students toil away in the hot sun, quietly picking away at a stucco relief or the markings on a stone pillar.
In this heat, it’s good to wear a hat, preferably something sturdy with a wide brim. Every archeology site in the world is littered with rugged people in wide-brimmed hats talking about long dead civilizations. Tulane archeologist Marcello Canuto, for instance, prefers the khaki, floppy variety. Walking back to camp with after a long day at one Northern Guatemalan site, I can’t help but make the obvious comparison.
“Oh God,” he groans, “Don’t even go there. Indiana Jones is not an archeologist.”
“Sometimes fiction — not science fiction — is the best way to explore the answers.”
What are some of your favorite films that explore the human condition? You can respond to npr on Twitter with the hashtag #bestsciencefilm or comment on Adam Frank’s article.
Gravity’s Oscar-winning Visual Effects Mastermind Talks about Computer Graphics and ‘Weightlessness’
"For Webber, his scientific grounding has helped him explore the links between artistic and scientific creativity, none more so than in Gravity. “The physics grounding I had through education has often informed my work and knowledge, for example: in understanding the way light bounces off objects and behaves, through to simulating water flow. Also, when animating a simple character in motion, the understanding of the basic laws of physics is so important in getting the movement right.”
“Ties. Lots of ties. Mathematicians have revealed there are over 177,000 distinct ways to knot a neck tie – more than 1000 times the number that was previously thought. They got their inspiration from an unusual style featured in the film The Matrix Reloaded.”