BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 18: Canadian filmmaker James Cameron attends the press conference of film 'Alita: Battle Angel' on February 18, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Liu Ying/Visual China Group via Getty Images)
Movies - TV
James Cameron Explains The Origins Behind Avatar's Unobtanium
“Avatar" is a sci-fi tale of capitalism and colonialism, based around the search for a precious mineral, dubbed unobtanium, which is needed as an energy source on Earth. According to the filmmaker, James Cameron — who has admitted to being ridiculed for the name — "unobtanium" has roots in actual science.
"If you're in engineering at all, whenever engineers can't solve a problem on designing a device or a system, they'll say, 'Well, this piece here needs to be made out of unobtainium,'" the director said. "It's the thing you can't have in material science. It's an engineering joke. Like Uranium, Germanium, and unobtainium."
Cameron’s claims are backed up by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, who say the joke has been present “since the 1950s.” They add, “Over the years, the meaning of unobtainium has been expanded to describe real elements on Earth that are very rare and expensive (although they do exist).”