Robert Barker, a program manager at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, says the portrayal of scientists in popular films is "downright insulting." In light of the declining numbers of U.S. students pursuing science and engineering degrees, he also thinks it's a national security concern.
So the Pentagon is spending $300,000 over three years to send mid-career scientists, researchers, and engineers to a workshop at the television and screenwriting school run by the American Film Institute. Their mission: to portray their field--and themselves--as cool. The hope: that working scientists will be inspired to produce screenplays that, in the words of the institute's Joe Petricca, don't paint "scientists as losers."