Contact (1997)


Concept featured in film: Radio telescopes

Location of clip: DVD: 0:07:29 - 0:10:00

Play Flickclip Here

Summary of clip: The scene opens with Ellie (Jodi Foster) arriving at the site of the radio telescope she will be using to do her research on SETI (search for extra-terrestrial intelligence). Later that night, while on her first rotation with the telescope, she is listening to the radio waves the telescope is picking up and collecting data.

Connection of flickclip to the concept:This is a good clip to introduce make the connection between electromagnetic waves and their applications; in particular, radio telescopes.

Suggestions to teachers:
1. Suggested questions for students when viewing the clip:

a. What type of wave is a radio wave? Describe the properties of these waves.

b. What is the wavelength of a radio wave? Where do they fit on the electromagnetic spectrum?

c. How do radio telescopes work? What do they emit/detect?

d. Are radio telescopes harmful in any way?

e. In the clip from Contact, there are many radio telescopes together. What purpose does this serve?

f. What are some common sources of interference when listening to the radio signals?

g. Does the earth's atmosphere affect receiving/transmission?

h. Who "discovered" the radio telescope? How was this discovery made?

i. What are the advantages, disadvantages of having one big telescope versus several smaller ones?