Science Fair

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Steve Wolf, professional stuntman, explains the science behind movie magic

Friday, April 29, 2011

Editor’s note: Steve Wolf is a professional stunt coordinator in the movie and TV industry. He explains the importance of creative scientific inquiry and reveals some of the science behind movie magic.

Every morning I wake up and ask myself what I feel most inspired to do. I really enjoy inventing, innovating, and blowing things up... so I do! As president of Special FX International, I'm a scientist who works on movie sets, coordinating stunts and special effects for movies, television shows and live events. I’m often asked how I got into this work, but the truth is, I never got out of it. I started inventing when I was four, and experimenting with my chemistry set at six.

Science is the language and blueprint of how the universe
works. Just as you can make up new words after you know the letters of the alphabet, you can arrange simple principles to invent anything you like once you understand the basic building blocks of science.
My love of inventing has led me to amazing opportunities in the film industry, working with movie stars including Tom Cruise and famous directors including James Cameron. But while movies provide interesting technical challenges, science is what I find truly exciting.

The idea of making science as engaging, memorable and fun as an action-adventure movie inspired me to create “Science in the Movies,” a live presentation that reveals to students (and teachers) how their favorite movie stunts and effects are based on simple physics and chemistry. I am especially excited to show the global finalists (and everyone watching on YouTube) the science behind movie stunts in person at the Google Science Fair final event on July 11!

I’m thrilled and honored to help Google bring its online Science Fair to students around the world. Seeing the amazingly creative projects kids have submitted is extremely inspiring. It gives me hope that the next generation will be prepared to tackle whatever challenges may arise -- both on screen and off -- with a true scientist’s dedication to invention, ingenuity and discovery.

Posted by Steve Wolf, President, Special FX International