Starship science is built into ‘Passengers’ script

Starship Avalon
The starship Avalon approaches Arcturus in a scene from “Passengers.” (Sony Pictures via YouTube)

The science is under the hood in “Passengers,” a love story set on a giant starship – and screenwriter Jon Spaihts is the guy who put it there.

Chances are most movie fans are going to the movie to see Hollywood stars Jennifer Lawrence (“The Hunger Games,” etc.) and Chris Pratt (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” etc.) rather than to get a tutorial on the physics of the Coriolis effect on a rotating spacecraft. But just in case there are some space geeks in the audience, Spaihts made sure the math works out.

The one-time physics student and science writer has already made a name for himself as “Hollywood’s go-to science fiction screenwriter,” thanks to his work on “Prometheus,” “Doctor Strange” and the upcoming reboot of “The Mummy.”

For “Passengers,” Spaihts created a setting that is both expansive and claustrophobic. All of the action takes place on a starship traveling across light-years of emptiness to a colony world.

But what a starship! “The ship is a character unto itself,” the film’s director, Morten Tyldum, told GeekWire.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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