The Strangely True Science Behind "Doctor Strange"
[Image Courtesy of Prishank Thapa/Flickr]
With Marvel's Doctor Strange making millions in the box office this weekend, it's easy to roll your eyes and mutter something about yet another superhero movie.
However, the film uses a considerable bit of actual science.
Adam Frank, astrophysicist at the University of Rochester in New York, served as the consultant for the movie. Frank helped balance the occult realm of Stephen Strange with the highly scientific realm of the MCU. (After all, Iron Man would scoff at anyone promoting "clearing your mind" over engineering new technology.)
"The comic book version of Doctor Strange, back in the '60s — which was all trippy, definitely a countercultural thing going on from the '60s — had this idea of dimensions, and here they make that a little more explicit," Frank said in an interview. "In science, in physics, we can think of each of these universes as being a dimension in an infinite-dimensional abstract space."
The movie differs from than demigods imbued with a task or ego-driven billionaires. Doctor Strange focuses on a surgeon who taps into other dimensions. While the film offers treats for MCU junkies, it also satisfies those who love scientific exploration.
[Image Courtesy of Pixabay]
"Many people in science will come at a reductionist perspective — that you are nothing more than your neurons, and your neurons are nothing more than quarks, so that the fundamental objects and their rules determine everything that happens on larger structures," he said.
However, while this theory isn't necessarily wrong, Frank said the film taps into a deeper understanding:
"A nonreductionist perspective says no, there's actually something more going on there — that mind experience cannot be reduced just to gears in your head; there is some way in which there's something fundamental going on about the universe at the level of experience that has to be included in the counts of atoms."
Frank also mentioned that the multiverse idea, another staple in Marvel Comics, represents another meshing between scientific theory and the philosophy of the mind.
For a (pretty simple) cool explanation of the science behind the multiverse theory, check out MinutePhysics' video below:
For Frank, there no longer exists a "culture of science" and a "culture of humanities."
"The fruits of science turn into the drivers of culture 15 minutes after they're discovered. We're living in an age of miracles, and it's just going to get crazier. Artificial intelligence, genetics — people expect to see amazing things happen from science. So by grounding your stories enough in science to not so much make them plausible, but to allow that science to open up new possibilities — people are used to that in their lives."
Doctor Strange opened in theaters Nov. 4 and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness) as the titular character.