Top 8 Scientifically Flawed Films

Last week the Earth was just missed (in spatial distances) by an asteroid that was 30 meters across and 190,000 tons.  On the very same day a meteor 55 feet across and weighing 10,000 tons exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia, releasing energy thirty times the amount of the Hiroshima bomb.  This immediately led the media to pontificate on the dangers of rocks from outer space and also led to many references to movies such as Armageddon and Deep Impact.  Of course, I found it amusing to hear anyone reference Hollywood blockbuster movies when discussing scientific phenomena.  So, this week we will be looking at eight movies that get their science just plain wrong.  Some of the entries commit big science snafus that ultimately don’t affect the overall story of the film.  However, some of these films are so grossly incompetent that the entire plot is based on incorrect science.  Join me as we laugh at ignorant filmmakers who should probably hire better consultants…or writers…for the next film they make.

 

 

star strek vs star wars

 

#8. Star Wars/Star Trek/and MANY others- This will be a very general entry on the list.  These films along with a litany of others make the same mistakes over and over and over again.  Let’s begin with sound in space.  There is NONE.  The Enterprise or the Millennium Falcon can zip by right past you and they won’t make a sound.  Sound requires air to travel through, of which there is none in space.  Speaking of no oxygen in space, anytime you’ve seen a ship in one of these films blow up in a fiery explosion is completely incorrect.  Once again, there’s no oxygen in space.  Thusly, no fiery explosions either.  All of these films use faster than light travel which there is no experimental evidence proving it could ever even exist.  Finally, Star Wars and others as well, show ships shooting lasers….visible lasers.  Lasers are ONLY visible when there are particles in the air to reflect their light to your eye.  So for a third time…no oxygen in space means no visible lasers either.  Also, a laser travels at the speed of light.  So it’s absolutely impossible for an X-wing fighter or any other ship for that matter, to “dodge” lasers being shot at it by another ship.

 

 

 

Superman Movie Poster

 

#7. Superman– It’s pretty obvious exactly why this movie is on the list.  It’s one of the single most egregious…and hilarious moments of terrible science in movies.  After Lois Lane is killed in the earthquake caused by Lex Luthor, our hero soars into outer space and begins flying counter to the Earth’s rotation.  He speeds along so fast that the planet actually begins to slow and then finally reverse its rotation.  This amazingly allows Superman to travel back in time!  Thusly, saving his beloved Lois.  The problem here is two-fold.  First, this is the dumbest theory of time travel I have ever seen presented in a sci-fi film and wouldn’t even work in the oddest of physics theories.  Second…and most important…if you slowed and stopped the rotation of the Earth, everything on it would be flung from the planet at a velocity relative to your proximity to the equator.  Superman would have actually murdered every inhabitant of the planet in a vain attempt to save his girlfriend.

 

 

 

independenceday

 

#6. Independence Day– We’ll begin with the size of the mothership.  They state it is ¼ the size of the moon.  If a ship that size was hovering above the planet its gravitational pull would cause devastating tidal waves, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.  I’m not going to dwell on the whole outrunning massive explosions which takes place in this film and get right to the biggie.  Jeff Goldblum manages to write a computer virus for an unknown alien operating system, while on Earth it’s nearly impossible to write a virus that affects both Mac and Windows based systems much less an OS from an alien world.  He’s also really lucky they had that Mac compatible port on their ship for him to upload the virus through.

 

 

 

total recall

 

#5. Total Recall– The errors in this film have nothing to do with three-breasted women.  That was just plain cool.  They have to do with Mars in general.  The gravity on Mars is far less that of the Earth, yet Arnie and the rest of the characters prance along like there’s no difference.  While in reality, the Govenator should have been bounding across rooms with every step.  In addition to their gravity mistakes the filmmakers also completely misrepresent the atmosphere on Mars.  If you just happened to be chucked out an airlock with no suit to protect you, you wouldn’t suffer bulging eyes and an exploding head.  You’d asphyxiate plain and simple with none of the grotesque side effects.

 

 

 

matrix

 

#4. The Matrix– We are actually going to ignore all the cool body-bending bullet dodging.  As well as the physics defying running up walls.  These things actually made the movie watchable.  What I’m going to point out is the giant hole in the main plot.  Human beings are a ridiculously inefficient source of energy.  So the idea of using them essentially as batteries is laughable.  Those dumb machines would have to expend more energy trying to extract ours than they would produce from the humans themselves.  However, it was a Keanu Reeves movie, so my expectations weren’t too high.

 

 

 

armageddon

 

#3. Armageddon– This movie is littered with errors and I’m not even talking about the idea of instantly turning miners into astronauts with some limited intensive training.  First, there is NO WAY that an asteroid the “size of Texas” would be missed by NASA.  Not to mention the thousands of amateur astronomers who look up at the sky on a nightly basis.  A rock that size only “18 days away” would be one of the brightest objects in the sky….and visible to the naked eye!  They also say that the asteroid came from our systems asteroid belt and was knocked loose by a collision with a comet.  First, there are no asteroids that large in our solar system’s asteroid belt.  Second, a collision with a comet would barely nudge a rock that size, much less knock it from it’s orbit to send it careening towards Earth.  The heroes also dock with a Russian space station where gravity is turned on before they arrive by sending it into a spin.  One…the Russian space station doesn’t spin.  Two…the size of the station would have to be immense and spin at a fantastic speed to create an Earth-like gravity inside.  Not to mention once inside, the characters seem to have gravity in whichever direction is convenient to them.  While in reality, the closer you got to the center of the station the less gravity you would actually have until you reached the axis where there would still be none.  Finally…we come to the main travesty of the movie.  They are attempting to bury a nuke and split the Texas sized asteroid in half with the explosion.  The problem is that there isn’t a nuclear weapon on Earth strong enough to split that asteroid and they weren’t burying it deep enough to do a damn bit of good.

 

 

 

2012

 

#2. 2012– This movie is one of the most egregious science offenders out there.  NASA even named it the “worst” in their list of scientifically flawed films.  We begin with the alignment of the planets.  In the movie they line up in a nice straight line.  Sorry to say folks, but that’s impossible.  Next, sunspots do not…nor will they ever…cause earthquakes and tsunamis.  Further, tsunamis do NOT occur out at sea.  The sinking of a ship in the middle of the ocean by a tsunami is pure fabrication.  Tsunamis only reach their incredible height as they travel closer to land and the ocean floor forces the water higher and higher.  Another ridiculous theory used in this film is that of the Earth’s axis shifting poles.  There is absolutely no CREDIBLE modern science that says the Earth’s axis has EVER or will EVER shift.  Sorry, conspiracy theorists.  Finally, the entire idea of neutrinos heating up the Earth’s core is absurd.  Neutrinos pass through matter and can’t gain an electrical charge at all.

 

 

 

Alright ladies and gentlemen, we’ve arrived at my number one movie with incredibly flawed science.  This film is a stinker all the way around.  It has bad writing, bad directing, bad acting, and seriously flawed science.  If you have even seen this film, I feel sorry for you and suggest you write a strongly worded letter asking for your money back.  With that said, let’s do this thing.  Our number one flawed movie is…

 

 

 

 

the core

 

#1. The Core– Where to even begin with this one.  The earth’s core has stopped spinning which has caused the magnetic field around our planet to allow cosmic rays to create super storms that are now devastating the Earth.  Let’s start with cosmic rays.  Even without a magnetic field surrounding the planet most cosmic rays would still be blocked by our atmosphere, much as it currently does.  Next, there is no GOOD science existing that shows a cause/effect relationship between cosmic rays and super storms.  Next, the dangerous microwaves mentioned in the film wouldn’t even be affected by our magnetic field because microwaves are NEVER affected by magnetic fields.  Also, spatial microwaves bombard us on a daily basis and are FAR too weak to have any effect on Earth whatsoever.  Radio and TV stations broadcast using microwaves, so if there was any disturbance caused by spatial microwaves you wouldn’t be able to jam out to some tunes or watch Doctor Who on a daily basis.  Lastly, but certainly not least, is the core of the Earth itself.  The energy contained in the Earth’s core is incredibly immense and if it were to stop spinning it would have to go somewhere.  This would result in an energy release the size of 5 TRILLION one megaton bombs.  That just happens to be 500 MILLION TIMES the explosive force of the entire world’s nuclear arsenal!!  Sending some jackwagons to the core to try and get it spinning again would be the least of our worries, because the planet itself would probably be ripped to shreds.  Go back to being the second worst Karate Kid, Hillary Swank!  For those of you who just happened to be wondering…Jaden Smith is the worst.

 

 

 

That’s all we’ve got for today, folks!  I hope you enjoyed my list of scientifically flawed films and if you have any other blatant examples you can comment below.  You can also reach me at seanscott@8daysageek.com or on Twitter @SeanMLScott.  Until next time, Allons-y!!

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One Comment

  1. Star Wars is taking place in another galaxy. Who is to say they have the same physics as us? Also, everyone knows that Superman can do whatever he wants.

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