A major part of a scientist's job is saving the world, according to your typical Marvel movie. Thanks to Hollywood, I occasionally imagine myself fighting alongside Iron Man -- a cognitive neuroscientist with shinier hair, wittier repartee, and all the answers.
I don't think I'm the only scientist that harbors sexy scientist fantasies; that is, fantasies in which science is sexy (although Hollywood is responsible for plenty of the other kind as well). Take the laboratory of neuroimaging at my graduate university: For reasons unknown, it contained both an entryway locked by a Minority Report-style iris scanner and a room full of servers covered in oscillating rainbow lights that made Hackers look understated. The day-to-day practice of science isn't generally thrilling, so we do what we can.
So yes, I've often wondered how well I (and my hair) would hold up against a threat designed for a special-effects-heavy blockbuster. In 2016, Hollywood finally delivered an answer. In the now-Academy-Award-nominated Arrival, Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a social scientist, a professor, a mother, and eventually, a hero. In the end she, quietly, saves the world. After watching the movie, I found myself reflecting again and again on my own experiences. This is what science actually looks like -- and without explosions or caped crusaders swooping into action, the authenticity could easily be overlooked.