Steven’s Science in Cinema: The Andromeda Strain (1971)

Andromeda Strain 1971

The Andromeda Strain (1971), directed by Robert Wise, can be found among almost every “must watch” sci-fi film list. Aside from its outstanding reviews in the sci-fi community, this film is also revered for its amazing scientific accuracy at the time. Some of the science is a little outdated, but in the 70’s, this film held up with most of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and microbiology practices at the time. Before I start pointing out some of the amazing accuracies, there is an unforgettable scar in the movie for some terrible inaccuracy.

Before the elite group of scientists return to their laboratory to identify the extra-terrestrial microorganism from the outbreak zone, they must go through a decontamination and immunization process. The primary flaw in this scene is that the scientists expose themselves to a xenon light in order to burn their top layer of epithelium (skin). Yes, the human body does have a layer of flora, which is essentially an ecosystem of friendly microorganisms living on the skin, and if you want to keep a lab COMPLETELY sterile, the flora would be an issue.

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