Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bad Movie Physics Report Card

Movies. I love them. I'm not sure if I would call myself a film connoisseur but I just may be on the road to full-fledged film geek. I often find myself enjoying the bad ones almost as much as the good ones, particularly those with some oh-so-wrong science: man-eating anaconda in Antarctica, extant giant dinosaur crocodiles, men turning into mosquitoes. Basically, any SyFy original movie you can think of. What does grate though are serious, mainstream films about a scientific subject (or one that just has a lot of science in it) that just plain get the science wrong. Movies that clearly have a budget for, or even hired a, science advisor and then ignored it. Ignoring science that, had it been correct, would not have detracted from the plot. My all-time favorite bad science movie line: "That looks like human DNA!" from Mission to Mars. *facepalm*

Anyway, that's my mini-rant. A rant that is related to the subject matter for today's post.

IO9 has posted a Bad Movie Physics Report Card where they rated 18 movies based on how many laws of physics they broke. We all know that space movies bend, if not outright mangle, the rules of physics just to travel around in their chosen media. After all, a light year does, in fact, take a year to complete, and who wants to watch that? For the most part, the categories that IO9 used are pretty self explanatory but they expanded on them a bit anyway:
  • There's no sound in space
  • Not all planets have Earth gravity
  • Planets should have diverse climates, instead of one unified climate across a "desert planet" or "forest planet"
  • It shouldn't be too easy to communicate with alien creatures, without some kind of high-technology "translator" explanation
  • And it definitely shouldn't be too easy for humans to interbreed with aliens
  • Humans exposed to vacuum without a spacesuit shouldn't explode or shatter. And a "hull breach" where the ship's crew is exposed to vacuum should kill everyone instantly
  • You can't have fires in space, unless there's oxygen leaking out somehow
  • Asteroids or other objects shouldn't be able to float close together without falling into each other's gravity
  • People shouldn't be able to dodge lasers or other speed-of-light weapons
  • And there's no reason why someone would move in slow-motion in zero gravity
  • Faster-than-light travel is probably not ever going to be possible
Here's IO9's infographic (click to enlarge):


This is the article: http://io9.com/367792/bad-movie-physics-a-report-card
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