back to future

Back to the Future I (1985)


Concept featured in film: Science in the Media—“The Flux Capacitor”

Location of clip: DVD: 0:24:34 - 0:25:54


Play Flickclip Here

Summary of clip: The scene open with Doc Brown showing Marty his time machine at the Twin Pines Mall parking lot. Doc is telling Marty about November 5, 1955, the date he invented time travel.

Doc: "I was standing on the edge of my toilet hanging a clock, the porcelain was wet, I slipped hit my head on the edge of the sink, and when I came to, I had a revelation, a vision, a picture in my head, a picture of this (points to the flux capacitor). This is what makes time travel possible, the Flux Capacitor."

Connection of flickclip to the concept: This is a great clip to allow students to apply what they know and see if "commercial" science makes sense. For example, many commercials add scientific terms to make their product look impressive. But do the terms they use actually make sense?

Suggestions to Teachers:

1. Suggested questions for students when viewing the clip:

Have students examine the meaning of capacitance and flux separately:

a. What is capacitance? How does a capacitor work? How can capacitance be increased? Decreased? What are the units of capacitance? What are capacitors used for? Name some commercial uses of capacitors.

b. What is flux? Specifically, what is electric flux? Does flux have units? If so, what are they?

c. In the movie, "flux capacitance" is measure in [giga]watts. Could flux be measured in watts? Could capacitance?

2. In terms of what you know about flux and capacitance, does the idea of a "flux capacitor" make sense? Explain.

3. As an additional exercise, teachers could show a variety of television commercials that uses "science terms." Students could perform the same type of analysis.