'Don't Look Up' Is Scientifically Accurate Thanks To Arizona Astronomer

By Dani Medina

January 5, 2022

Photo: Getty Images

Don't Look Up is a star-studded Netflix movie where two astronomers try to warn mankind of an approaching comet. Although the film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett, to name a few, is satire, the science behind it is all real, thanks to an astronomer from the University of Arizona.

Amy Mainzer is a professor in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona and is one of the world's leading scientists in asteroid detection and planetary defense, according to NASA. She earned her PhD in astronomy from UCLA and has received several awards from NASA for her work with near-Earth asteroids.

According to 12 News, Mainzer spent years working on the script with director Adam McKay, who's known for films including Step Brothers, The Big Short and The Other Guys. McKay found Mainzer "on the Internet" and through a mutual colleague at NASA.

McKay and Mainzer tweaked the script — the first draft was written before the COVID-19 pandemic hit — to make sure everything was scientifically accurate. They also worked with the visual effects crew to make sure some of the special effects looked legit.

"It was really clear that we had a lot of common interests in terms of making a movie that really communicates the importance of science," Mainzer told 12 News.

Without spoiling too much about the film, the plot revolves around an impending comet, but the deeper message behind it is about climate change deniers. McKay said the movie "holds a mirror up to society" and shows how scientists and people handle bad news.

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