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The University of Southampton

Southampton space debris expert comments on the science behind the space movie Gravity

Published: 13 March 2014Origin: Engineering
Hugh Lewis

Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering Dr Hugh Lewis has contributed his expertise on space debris to a documentary accompanying the Oscar-winning movie Gravity on its release on DVD and Blu-ray.

The space epic, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, took seven Academy Awards* including best direction and best film editing for its director Alfonso Cuaron.

Hugh is one of eight experts included on the extra feature talking about the science behind the story. Producer Abby Lance interviewed him on location at the University for the 21 minute documentary Collision Point: The Race to Clean Up Space, narrated by actor Ed Harris.

"Gravity is a work of fiction but there is a scientific base for the plot, collisions do occur in space, although the scriptwriters have taken it up another dramatic level," says Hugh, who has more than ten years' experience in computer modelling of space debris and represents the UK Space Agency on a working group of the Inter Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee.

"I saw Gravity at the cinema in 3D and was completely taken in by it," he adds. "In fact, it was hard for me to watch because I am afraid of heights and I was terrified for the safety of Sandra Bullock even though I knew it was a film."

*The remaining Oscars were for best cinematography, best original score, best sound editing, best sound mixing and best visual effects.

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