Popular Mechanics recently polled dozens of scientists to find out what they thought were the world’s best science fiction films. At number nine (out of ten) was Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope. While the film wouldn’t be classified as “hard sci fi”, its power to inspire others made it worthy of inclusion.
“Nothing so fantastical yet inspiring had been on the big screen before,” says Aaron Blaisdell, a UCLA professor of behavioral neuroscience, who first saw the movie at age 9. Siddhartha Srinivasa, of Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, also saw Star Wars as a boy. Now he’s building a servant robot partially inspired by C-3PO. “Fiction stimulates science as it points to a future we should strive for,” he says.