Why you should be rooting for The Martian come Oscar Sunday

The Martian, starring Matt Damon
The Martian, starring Matt Damon

I remember walking out of The Martian with my friends thrilled at the experience. Here was that rare warm, scientific film, one that trumpets the positive human characteristics of the actual doing of science. The central character Mark Watney deals with the inescapable fact that, to survive on Mars by himself, he needed to “science the shit out of this.” And that he does, by experimentation, teamwork, and creativity. His scientific training becomes a superpower that enables him to engineer solutions that keep him alive. The practice of science for him is not a robotic process, but rather an entertaining trip to the limits of his knowledge and capabilities. He no doubt had to think very deeply about plants when he pursued his graduate degree in botany, but the movie is more of a showcase of the lateral thinking that develops after having taken the time to try to get to the bottom of a question or an unexplained observation.

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