Hollywood under the microscope
Would real space battles look and sound just like they do in ‘Star Wars’? And could Bruce Willis’s bomb save us from an asteroid? Adam Weiner puts screen science to the test
02-15-2008, 01:07 AM
Starwars: Two words: Ventilation shaft.
Batman: It isn't the fall that kills you, it is the sudden deceleration at the end.
More technically correct: It isn't the fall that kills you, it is the sudden acceleration at the end.
The other movies: Meh, the concepts were moronic to begin with, having no scientific content whatsoever(in my ever so humble opinion, of course).
My favorite: Anything with Keanu Reeves.
Speed: Bus jumps any distance whatsoever: HA HA
Chain Reaction: Jumping in a ditch saves him from a nuclear explosion: HA HA
Matrix: HA HA
Johnny Mnemonic: HA HA HA
Bill and Ted: never tried to take itself seriously - didn't count (also, I liked it)
Point Break: HA HA H AH AH AH AHAHAHHAHAHAH
Sorry, had to throw that last one in there :D
02-15-2008, 09:40 AM
It is true what this article says. Space battles should be soundless because there is no air to transmit the sound. So, not only would the sounds of battle be absent but so would all the dramatic music in Star Wars. The article goes on to criticize a number of movies for having unrealistic or unscientific phenomena. It criticized Batman for giving the impression that a rope alone would be sufficient to save a falling hero, pointing out that deceleration would kill him. In Armageddon, it points out that Bruce Willis placed an 100 Megaton bomb but this would not be enough to blow apart the asteroid and that millions of such bombs would be necessary. In the Day After Tomorrow it points out that the movie claimed that -100˚C air from the trophosphere suddenly descends to the surface of the earth but the air in the troposphere is warmer than 100˚C and should warm up even more as it descends. In Independence Day, the movie says that the alien mothership in orbit around the earth has a quarter of the mass of the moon; if so, it should be causing huge tides.
While true, these are little factual errors that do not threaten the core premise of the stories. The article unfortunately missed some of the worst and most egregious scientific errors repeated in many Hollywood movies. One of the most common Hollywood error has to do with cloning. Dozens of movies have been made about cloning in the last 30 years. These include some of the most popular movies of our time. Almost all of these movies made one or more serious scientific errors regarding cloning and have misled the public so much that they have an irrational fear of cloning based on the wrong information.
1 . CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL REALISM -
Those set in, or very near to, the present and presented as realistic.
1.1 The Boys From Brazil (1978)
1.2 Jurassic Park (1993)
1.3 The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
1.4 Cloned (1997)
1.5 Blue Print (2002)
1.6 Godsend (2004)
2. FUTURE SOCIAL REALISM -
Those set in the future but presented as realistic.
2.1 The 6th Day (2000)
2.2 Yesterday (2002)
2.3 The Island (2005)
3. SCIENCE FICTION /FANTASY -
Those set “long, long ago in a galaxy far away” or in the far future.
3.1 Judge Dredd (1995)
3.2 Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-1996)
3.3 The Fifth Element (1997)
3.4 Alien Resurrection (1997)
3.5 Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002)
3.6 Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
3.7 Natural City (2003)
4. COMEDY -
Those using cloning as the cornerstone of comedy in the film.
4.1 Sleeper (1973)
4.2 City of Lost Children (1995)
4.3 Multiplicity (1996)
4.4 Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
4.5 Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
4.6 Repli-Kate (2002)
4.7 Clone High (2002)
5. GONE AND FORGOTTEN -
Those films on cloning that did not rate well at the box office, or are rarely seen anymore.
5.1 Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler (1971)
5.2 The Clones of Bruce Lee (1977)
5.3 The Clonus Horror (1979)
5.4 Anna to the Infinite Power (1982)
5.5 Creator (1985)
5.6 The Cloning of Joanna May (1991)
5.7 Replikator: Cloned to Kill (1994)
5.8 The Third Twin (1997)
5.9 Shadow Fury (2001)
5.10 The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
The main error made by many of these cloning movies is that it shows clones that are of the same age. The hallmark of cloning is that it produces individuals of the same genetic makeup but of different ages. If persons with the same genetic makeup are of the same age, they may well be merely identical twins (or triplets, etc.), a plentiful natural phenomenon. The cloning of an individual that is of the same age as the original also involves very complicated technology that we do not have at the present and probably will not have for a long time to come, i.e. the ability to accelerate development and aging over a short period to get the person to match ages with the original person as well as the ability to slow down the aging process again once the desired age is met and the ability to inject memory and experiences into the cloned individual. While the movie Judge Dredd acknowledged this problem and made this problem a central part of the plot, most of the movies simply ignored this problem.
Yes, as we all know, Hollywood abuses science for the sake of show. As long as the audience is not very sophisticated, the movies can assume unscientific and unrealistic. Unfortunately, movies have taught millions of people wrong facts. For example, many movies (particularly cartoons) show humans and mammals naturally co-existing with dinosaurs. While those who are believers of the young earth theory mistakenly believe that this is true, all scientific evidence indicates otherwise. Of course, many movie writers acknowledge that this is impossible and therefore invented cloning and time-machines to make such co-existence possible, either by transporting people back in time to the age of dinosaurs or by having scientists clone dinosaurs from fossil DNA. Of these, the Jurassic Park series is perhaps the most scientifically thoughtful.
The Jurassic Park movies depict scientists as having successfully cloned dinosaurs and other ancient extinct creature from DNA embedded in amber. However, it is important to point out that while fragments of DNA may be preserved in this material. However, experts in amber DNA have pointed out numerous errors in the details of the movie. So, for example, the movie suggests that the scientists used DNA embedded in amber obtained from the Dominican Republic. The actual amber from the Dominican Republic is only 20-40 million years old, too young to contain DNA of dinosaurs who existed 60 or more millions years ago (Source (http://www.gplatt.demon.co.uk/amberdna.htm). But aside from the age of the amber DNA used, the movie suggests that the DNA contained in amber is of sufficient purity and contain dinosaur DNA. To date, this has not yet been shown. Another potential source of dinosaur DNA was recently found (Source (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-02/acft-pic020206.php)).
In my opinion, Hollywood writers have a real obligation to think through the science in their movies very carefully and subject the science in movies to peer review. Because movie-goers learn their science from movies, a single movie may significantly misinform millions upon millions of people. At the very least, they need to add a prominent disclaimer at the beginning of the movies that the science presented in the movies may be based on false assumptions and misleading information. When scientific errors are made in movies, nobody is outraged. Imagine what the public would do if a movie asserted that George Washington had died of syphilis at age 46 without a disclaimer. Historians would be up in arms concerning this assertion. But, when there are serious errors of science in a movie, nobody says anything, much less scientists.
well atleast Terminator 2 was real :)
[QUOTE]well at least Terminator 2 was real :)