Robert Langdon, Dan Brown’s hero, would be a good colleague

Scientists think he really would be.

Questions:

1. Do you think Robert Langdon would be a good scientist in the real life or no and why?

2. Would you like be his colleague or better not?

Marie Vejrup Nielsen, Assistant Professor at the Department of the Study of Religion, Faculty of Theology, Aarhus University

1. First of all, I think that in some ways it is wonderful to have Robert Langdon as a hero – a hero who is not a soldier, or secret agent, but an academic! Someone who solves problems and saves women and the world simply through scholarship! By knowing things about the renaissance, about art, about religion etc. That is of course a nice break from the traditional movie heroes! (He is of course a little like Indiana Jones in this respect, but he is even more of a nerd and not as physical as Indiana Jones). So would he be a good scholar in real life – well, he is very dedicated to his work and his students it seems, so I would say so. But he is more of a fantasy of the ideal academic professor, than anything you would probably find in real life!

2. And would I like to have him as a colleague? Well, – he is probably going to be away from the office a lot on daring adventures – but on the other hand he seems to be a dedicated and sympathetic person so I would like to have him as a colleague! So, although the books are a little too much in many ways, Robert Langdon is a good hero for me as an academic!

Joe Izen, Professor of Physics, Department of Energy, University of Texas at Dallas, Author of the public lectures The Science Behind the Myths and the Movie about Angels & Demons book and movie

1. Langdon shares many characteristics with physicists. He is passionate about his subject, symbology. Langdon observes well, and he is willing to makes inspired guesses, often based on insufficient information. These are all characteristics of a good scientist, but there is a foundation of basic knowledge and mathematics that Langdon lacks, that are essential for being a good scientist. We all make choices in life. Langdon chose to be a symbologist, not a scientist, and he has Dan Brown to thank for his success (or vice versa).

2. Sure, as long as assassins don’t come after me too! In all seriousness, one of the coolest things about working at a university is that I have friends, colleagues, and students who tell me about the interesting things they know about in fields that are different from my own.

Ian F. McNeely, Associate Professor at Department of History, University of Oregon

I’m afraid I don’t know enough about Robert Langdon to say. Even if he wouldn’t necessarily make the best colleague, I’d probably enjoy having a beer with him.

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