We have seen a distinct shift in the cultural meaning of science. Gone are the sole connotations of cold, clinical precision and pristine lab coats. Instead, science has become a truly creative arena. It has gained a frisson of genuine cool – with people eager to learn to code, to delve into the intricate scientific processes behind the products they buy, and to explore the lives of scientists. Major films such as The Imitation Game and The History of Everything have held up figures from the scientific community as romantic leads and war heroes. Science has emerged as a crucible for our collective imagination.
More recently, we have seen the scientific world of outer space arise once again as a vital narrative landscape. Films such as Gravity, Interstellar and The Martian have fed our fascination with the universe, removing it from abstract fantasy, and instead positing it as a thrilling terrain to be explored. This year we’ve seen the far reaches of the galaxy taken as inspiration for an enormous range of creations – from fashion to food, from beauty to literature, from design to public spaces. The astronomical and galactic have become our new muses.
It is perhaps inevitable, then, that outer space has become a magical landscape to set Christmas within. The celebration, which already has a star at the very heart of its story, has now embraced the planetary.