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Scientists Reveal Their Favorite Works Of Science Fiction

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Here at GFR we cover anything that fits under the umbrella of our twin loves: science and science fiction. And just as the bleeding edge of our scientific understanding is forever pushing the boundaries of our science fiction, SF is itself inspiring fans to take transform their love of starships, robots, and the like into careers in real scientific fields. So what are some of the science fiction movies, shows, and books that real-life scientists love best? The Huffington Post recently asked a handful of scientists precisely that.

PermutationCityDr. Max Tegmark is a cosmologist and physics professor at MIT, and the scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute, which provides grants to “catalyze, support, and disseminate research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology.” Tegmark cites Greg Egan’s 1994 science fiction novel Permutation City as his favorite, explaining that Egan’s “explorations of the ultimate nature of reality blew my mind and inspired my own research.”

Dr. Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, and the author of books including The Particle at the End of the Universe and From Eternity to Here. He lists another semi-obscure work you might want to add to your Kindle: Robert L. Forward’s Dragon’s Egg. Carroll says, “It’s a story about life on the surface of a neutron star, which would ordinarily be considered completely outlandish. A good reminder that ‘life’ might take on very different forms than we ordinarily imagine. Here’s the Dragon’s Egg synopsis from Amazon:

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Mad Science Is The Best Science: Our 14 Favorite Crackpot Geniuses

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WalterDr. Walter Bishop (Fringe)
By most, if not all definitions, Fringe’s Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) is a mad scientist. He experimented with sensory deprivation and LSD, spent decades in a mental institution, and even had pieces of his brain cut out at his own request. Oh, and he managed to tear a hole between two universes and generally disrupt the very fabric of reality as we know it. If that doesn’t earn him a place at the all-star table, I don’t know what does.

Walter has something that sets him apart from many of his mad kin, especially those who fall in the evil camp. Over the five years where Walter, his son Peter (Joshua Jackson), and FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) ran all over the globe, hopping dimensions left and right, saving the world more times than you can count, the elderly scientist formed the emotional core of the series. At times driven, power hungry, and neck-deep in a serious god complex, he is also fragile, sweet, loving, and afraid. The notion that he may be responsible for the end of multiple worlds, that he was once so blinded by ambition that he performed medical experiments on terrified children, absolutely haunts him. How do you cope with the fact that you may be responsible for the end of existence? That’s not an easy one to wrap your mind around, no matter how brilliant or crazy you may be.

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