Black Hole silhouetted against the Milky Way Fall 2002 ASTR 2030-002 Homepage

syllabus | timetable | scripts | images

 schedule Fall 2002 ASTR 2030-002 Black Holes: Scripts


At least 50%, and as much as 75%, of your grade will come from two Scripts that you will write. You may imagine that your Script is a segment written for TV, for a movie, for an IMAX, or for the new completely rebuilt digital Gates Planetarium to open in June 2003 at the Denver Museum for Nature and Science. You may imagine that you are in competition with many others, and you are hoping that your script will catch the eye of the Producer, and be the one chosen to go forward into production.


According to rules of the competition, your goal is:

Your Script should be aimed at the general public, not at scientists. However, your script must be scientifically accurate in its depiction of relativity and black holes.

You are permitted to stretch technology in the interests of getting your point across. For example, Thorne does this in his Prologue, where he imagines spacecraft equipped with a propulsion system capable of accelerating continuously at one g for many years.

The first Script is due in class on F Oct 25. The Script will present a 10-minute segment of a show or movie. You may pick any topic from either of Kip Thorne's or Mitch Begelman's books. If you like, you may regard Script 1 as a trial round for Script 2.

The second Script is due on the last day of classes, W Dec 11. The Script will present a 20-minute segment of a show or movie. The topic here is quite simply Black Holes. For this Script you must use at least one source besides Thorne and Begelman. You must reference whatever sources you use, and specify what you learned from those sources. Helpful resources include Scientific American, Sky and Telescope, Astronomy, and Discover magazine. You may use material from the web, but beware that some sites are posted by authors unfamiliar with the subject, and their facts and theories may be misleading or wrong. Be critical of web sites and consider the credentials of their authors.

Your should write your Script as the first phase (concept and storyline) of an anticipated multi-phase process involving:

  1. creation of concept and storyline;
  2. detailed development of story boards and dialog;
  3. production;
  4. editing;
  5. marketing.
Notice that your aim is not to write dialog, unless there is specific dialog that happens to be essential to your storyline. The dialog to go with your storyline will be written in phase two, perhaps with the assistance of a professional writer.


Your storyline must conform to the structure that will be described in class on Sep 4 and Sep 6. You are strongly recommended to attend those classes. The structure is the same one that is widely used professionally in the film business. The structure is summarized in the table below.

Part of script Theme Remarks
First World You establish the purpose, the main characters, the environment.
Second Problems Your hero meets a number of problems, perhaps 3.
Third Resolutions Your hero overcomes the problems. This may generate more problems, so there may be a cycle between problem and resolution.
Fourth Climax The best part of the script.

Your script should be written in two parts:


Your script will be judged based on:

Criterion Maximum
Success in achieving the goal stated above 5 Is your script educational? Are the educational aspects central or peripheral? Are the educational aspects clearly comprehensible? Does the script involve relativity or black holes? Is it entertaining and appealing?
Conformity to the structure laid out in class on W Sep 4 and F Sep 6 6 1 point for each of the four items listed in the table above. An extra point for each additional `Problem', up to 3 points.
Scientific accuracy 4 1 = mostly incorrect; 2 = some correct; 3 = mostly correct; 4 = practically perfect. For full credit, the script should include at least 4 items of science.
Artistic quality 3 1 = minimal; 2 = good; 3 = beautiful.
Originality 3 1 = minimal; 2 = good; 3 = striking.
Clarity and completeness of the accompanying Commentary 6 2 points for explaining the scientific truths that your script conveys; 2 points for References; 2 points for pointing out the structure of your script, and how it conforms to the required structure.
Quality and clarity of writing 3 1 = needs improvement; 2 = good; 3 = excellent.
Hamilton factor 10  
Total: 40  

 Black Hole silhouetted against the Milky Way Fall 2002 ASTR 2030-002 Homepage

syllabus | timetable | scripts | images

Updated 3 Dec 2002