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Sci-Fi Movies and 'Bad Science'

simoniker posted about 11 years ago | from the how-about-weird-science? dept.

Movies 958

Roland Piquepaille writes "Science fiction movies can be fun, and sometimes boring, when Hollywood producers want to show us a 2 1/2 hour film when 90 minutes would be enough. But what about the 'science' behind them? BBC News says it's pretty bad in 'When sci-fi forgets the science.' For example, the metamorphosis of Bruce Banner into The Hulk, based on work of marine biologist Greg Szulgit from Hiram College, Ohio, about sea cucumbers, is qualified by himself as "really awful"." The Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics website, which we've previously mentioned, is referenced in this article, and is now freshly updated to deal with movies like The Hulk.

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wait a minute... (5, Funny)

kaan (88626) | about 11 years ago | (#6786702)

does this mean the flux capacitor isn't real?

Re:wait a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786796)

flux capacitor is actually redundant, they mean the same thing.

Re:wait a minute... (5, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | about 11 years ago | (#6786800)

Hell, I'm not even sure I believe in the deLorean!

Re:wait a minute... (4, Funny)

iggymanz (596061) | about 11 years ago | (#6786833)

they had to be removed from the stock 1982 DeLoreans because the resulting fire trails violated emissions standards

Gigawatts (5, Informative)

UsonianAutomatic (236235) | about 11 years ago | (#6786835)

The producer commentary on the 'Back to the Future' admitted to some mildly bad science... Doc Brown's mispronunciation of the word 'Gigawatt'.

He said something to the effect that nerds everywhere wrote in and pointed out this egregious error after the first film was released, but for the sake of continuity they had to keep using the 'jiggawatt' pronunciation for the rest of the films.

Re:Gigawatts (5, Interesting)

rudiger (35571) | about 11 years ago | (#6786899)

Main Entry: giga-
Pronunciation: 'ji-g&, 'gi-
Function: combining form
Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary, from Greek gigas giant
: billion

there is nothing wrong with his pronunciation; it is infact the first (ie preferred) one.

Eat my cock. (Tastes of thai food) (-1)

(TK)Max (668795) | about 11 years ago | (#6786703)

.-" "-.
/ \
(_ ^^ _) NO HEED OF THEM.>
\ /
.::::I hate you, I hate your country, and I hate your face.

Gee (3, Insightful)

ElectricPoppy (679857) | about 11 years ago | (#6786704)

do you suppose that's why it's called science fiction??

Re:Gee (5, Funny)

calebtucker (691882) | about 11 years ago | (#6786726)

Geeks have a special gene that won't let us keep quiet during a movie when something isn't technically correct.

Re:Gee (5, Insightful)

ekarjala (446184) | about 11 years ago | (#6786753)

The story is the fiction, the science is what "should" make it seem feasible.

Re:Gee (5, Insightful)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | about 11 years ago | (#6786789)

An excellent point.

I'm a professional scientist but I'm more pissed off by the "let's find a plot hole in a movie just to prove that I am smart"-people than the actual plot holes.

Hey, it's entertainment! Go with the flow!

Re:Gee (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786902)

You seem to misunderstand why people do that. It's not to look smart, but because the plot holes grate and really bother them. Why this happens is the interesting question, since there are always incredible elements of a SF movie that the audience will accept without batting an eye, only to groan with dismay at some particular dumb explanation or the like. It's usually not about contraventions of fact, but of the set of assumptions the story rests upon (implicitly or explicitly) - a question of internal consistency. There's a sort of perceived compact between the storyteller and the audience, and when the writers go over that line, it seems a kind of betrayal. So people who complain are generally going with the flow - they're annoyed because the story didn't. People who're unbothered are generally just getting less out of the story in the first place, probably because they've come to have such low expectations of Hollywood.

But which is better? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786705)

A> Bad science?


B> Sex with CmdrTaco's favorite mare?

FP? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786709)


Wierd Science (0, Funny)

scumbucket (680352) | about 11 years ago | (#6786714)

Wierd Science was my favorite movie of all time. Does this mean the chick wasn't real?

Re:Wierd Science (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786784)

Of course she was. I've created hundreds of beautiful women using my computer and various magazines.

#1 law violated (by occurance) (4, Interesting)

scorp1us (235526) | about 11 years ago | (#6786715)

Law of conservation of mass and energy. Apearently, they can conjure up matter from no where. If they repected that law, then 99% of movies are out the window.

Re:#1 law violated (by occurance) (1)

Gherald (682277) | about 11 years ago | (#6786758)

Movies are just a bunch of photons. They do not confure up matter.

Re:#1 law violated (by occurance) (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786813)

At least some of them attempt to use matter->energy & energy->matter conversion in order to preserve a portion of physics. Others on the otherhand ...

Dear J-Lo (1)

Letter (634816) | about 11 years ago | (#6786868)

Law of conservation of mass and energy. Apearently, they can conjure up matter from no where. If they repected that law, then 99% of movies are out the window.

Dear J-Lo,

I have been informed that your derriere violates the law of conservation of mass and energy. Please fix this violation for Gigli 2 so the slashdot crew will pay their $$$.


Re:#1 law violated (by occurance) (2, Funny)

Krapangor (533950) | about 11 years ago | (#6786922)

Their argument is that rubbish can be created out of nowhere thus the first law of thermo-dynamics is wrong.
And indeed they prove that their argument is true.

In other news... (5, Funny)

OneIsNotPrime (609963) | about 11 years ago | (#6786717)

Radioactive spiders do not actually change you into a buff moviestar who swings around fighting hobgoblins.

Re:In other news... (4, Funny)

jmays (450770) | about 11 years ago | (#6786767)

Maybe for you it didn't ...

*swings away*

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786847)

They didn't turn that skinny little shit into a buff movie star, either. Seriously, that guy couldn't bench-press his way out of a paper bag.

In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (4, Insightful)

Le Marteau (206396) | about 11 years ago | (#6786722)

What gets me every time is when there is, say, an explosion (ala Star Wars) in space, and it goes "Boom!".

Obviously, without air, there would be no sound. I think it's much more dramatic to see the explosion without hearing the sound, like they did in 2001: A Space Oddessy, rather than the way they did it in Star Wars, which came across as rather cartoonish in comparison.

Re:In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | about 11 years ago | (#6786761)

Yeah, but then there would be no need for THX and the like, thereby destroying an entire movie-sound industry...

Re:In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 11 years ago | (#6786762)

What about the out-sise the deathstar shots on the attack run witht h X wing engine whining and the tie-fighters whailing?

Re:In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (1)

On Lawn (1073) | about 11 years ago | (#6786827)

Thats easy to explain. In the star wars universe, space has an atmosphere. Just look at when Han Solo and Luke are shooting at Tie Fighters in space through open windows!

Re:In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786809)

In fact it is more dramatic. Firefly made good use of the silence of space on several occasions.

Conventions like woosh-n-boom-in-space aren't there for drama's sake; they're simply put in without a thought. The vastest majority of TV and movie makers are astonishingly uncreative hacks working from formulae they'd be terrified to change. Did you think the best and brightest of your society were all going to Hollywood to write and direct? People with creativity and clue have far better things to do...

2001 -- totally overrated (1, Insightful)

Raul654 (453029) | about 11 years ago | (#6786822)

I'm sorry, but my take on 2001 is totally different. It took 5 tries to watch that movie all the way through (3 of them I fell asleep during any one of the numerous 20 minutes acid-trip induced classical music scenes) The script would fit comfortably on a 3x5 notecard, and in the end, you have no idea what you have just watched. It seems to me that the movie is vastly overrrated.

Re:2001 -- totally overrated (1)

Brahmastra (685988) | about 11 years ago | (#6786865)

I completely agree with that. I've tried 5 times and I've still not seen the movie (slept 3 times, switched channels 2 other times) fully and have no idea what the hell happens in it.

Re:2001 -- totally overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786913)

Somebody like you is supposed to smuggle his game boy into the theatre (volume very low or headphones, please) to have something to focus your very short attention span on between plot developments.

And you usually hear thunder after you see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786831)

The lightning... or you're probably a bit too close to it for comfort. Most movies time the thunder/lightning to be together, rather than the normal delay for the difference in travel speed.

Re:In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786841)

But in space, sounds should actually be louder because there's no air to get in the way!

Re:In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (1)

alphaseven (540122) | about 11 years ago | (#6786843)

The most logical reply I've heard (from some producer of Babylon 5?) goes: There's no classical music in space, so why is there classical music in 2001:A Space Oddessey?

Re:In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (1)

plaiddragon (20154) | about 11 years ago | (#6786907)

It has been a long time since I watched the movie, but I did recently finish reading the book. What it came down to was that Dave listened to a lot of classical music because he was bored. *shrug* This might not change anything because I don't remember when the music plays in the movie.

Re:In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (1)

WTFmonkey (652603) | about 11 years ago | (#6786880)

Stuff from the explosion banging onto the ship's hull might do it, though. Right?

Re:In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (1)

mblase (200735) | about 11 years ago | (#6786882)

I think it's much more dramatic to see the explosion without hearing the sound, like they did in 2001: A Space Oddessy, rather than the way they did it in Star Wars, which came across as rather cartoonish in comparison.

Did you actually watch "2001: A Space Odyssey"? The silent outer space scenes were certainly dramatic, but frankly, they were boring as all get-out. The overuse of classical music was equally dramatic and boring. "2010" got it better, with dramatic background music for all the silent space shots instead of gratuitous sound effects.

Never underestimate the power of sound in a motion picture. The reason outer space explosions go "boom!" is, simply, because that's more interesting. Of all the scientific flubs Hollywood makes on a regular basis, this is the first one I'm willing to forgive.

Re:In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (4, Informative)

Jerf (17166) | about 11 years ago | (#6786894)

Obviously, without air, there would be no sound.

Actually, you could "hear" the explosion, when the shockwave gets to you, the same time you can hear it on Earth.

You couldn't hear a spaceship passing 10 inches from you if it is coasting, but you might "hear" the exhaust if it is accelerating, or exhausting for some other reason. Of course you need to be in the exhause to hear it, and that could be fatal. (Or not; not all sci-fi spaceships have high-energy exhausts; you could stand in front of a modern ion-drive for a while before suffering ill effects from radiation exposure, I bet; it's pretty parsimonious with the atoms it spends.)

You don't need air, you just need a medium. Doesn't even need to be gaseous, though our ears are designed best for that case. In the case of an explosion or exhaust, the "medium" is provided by the same event you're hearing; in theory it can carry other sounds as well but you're unlikely to care about them. ;-)

Silence can still be as wrong as a loud "boom!".

Isnt the Point of a Movie Entertainment? (2)

LordYUK (552359) | about 11 years ago | (#6786723)

Granted, its always nice when fiction has basis in reality, but come on, if we're going to believe that a guy gets mad and turns into a giant green tank smashing bad ass (not to mention that his PANTS stay ON), cant we just ENJOY it for what it is?

Re:Isnt the Point of a Movie Entertainment? (1)

calebtucker (691882) | about 11 years ago | (#6786749)


Re:Isnt the Point of a Movie Entertainment? (2, Insightful)

On Lawn (1073) | about 11 years ago | (#6786881)

Actually the article is very good at pointing out that the problem is not so much the fanciful and incorrect science. They mention Spider Man and the Incredible Shrinking Man as examples of movie making gone right.

The difference? When movie makers try too hard to explain their movie scientifically, wind up detracting from the mystery of the movie and doing a horrible disservice to science. Their prime example of that is Star Wars' midi-chlorians.

It's called "suspension of disbelief" (4, Insightful)

Gudlyf (544445) | about 11 years ago | (#6786730)

Why can't people just take a movie for what it is? These aren't documentaries, you know.

I agree that some movies push it a bit too far, but did people really go into The Hulk expecting to come out saying, "holy crap, I want to go get induced with gamma rays now!"

Re:It's called "suspension of disbelief" (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 11 years ago | (#6786837)

what? you're trying to say that highlander wasn't a documentary filmed in real time??

I AM FOREVER!!! *lighting-strikes-and-i-fall-down*

anyways these aren't a problem with people with brains and you can't cater to stupid anyways because they're unpredictable. athf rules btw..

Re:It's called "suspension of disbelief" (1)

BWJones (18351) | about 11 years ago | (#6786898)

Why can't people just take a movie for what it is? These aren't documentaries, you know.

No, but the reality is that often sci-fi feeds from science fact (albeit with pushed boundaries) when for instance atomic power became reality, movies about atomic energy and its effects on biological tissues became all the rage. Now it is genetics that has inspired movies and there are those directors that want to portray their subject matter as real or potentially believeable to allow for suspension of disbelief, thus making the movie more fun or the statement the director is trying to make more powerful.

I have been consulted a bit from science topics from sleep and sleep disorders to retinal vision and artificial means to rescue vision for a few writers and directors, and routinely the authors want as much as possible to stick close to reality even if it is sci-fi.

Re:It's called "suspension of disbelief" (1)

TopShelf (92521) | about 11 years ago | (#6786914)

I think there's a difference in expectations between an obviously fantastic story like the Hulk, and something that is at least supposed to be based in a realistic setting, like the recent Mars flops. I can't recall which movie it was (Mission to Mars? Red Planet?), but there's a scene where this guy puts together a double-helix of M&M's in the zero g environment, then grins with self-satisfacation as it spins in place. I damn near threw the remote at the TV...

Bad Astronomy (4, Informative)

msheppard (150231) | about 11 years ago | (#6786733)

Another site collecting this sort of stuff is Bad Astronomy []


Reality Check (1)

Brahmastra (685988) | about 11 years ago | (#6786735)

It's a science FICTION movie. If they called themselves a science movie and had holes, then there would be a problem. Stop trying to find holes in science FICTION movies and just enjoy the movie. Science fiction movies aren't real life. They're an entertaining break from real-life.

How about that moon landing movie (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786739)

That NASA made? That was pretty bad! The lighting, ack, and the dialouge? Ouch.

Riiihiiihiiiight! (3, Funny)

zoloto (586738) | about 11 years ago | (#6786741)

There's hardly a nerd who wouldn't like, at least once, to morph into a huge green guy and panic his tormentors. So, how is it that Hollywood can take this delicious daydream and puree it into pure broccoli juice? Let's start with a simple principle that Hollywood has failed to grasp. Bigger is not always better

pfft.. that's not what she said!

Must be a record. (0, Redundant)

fleppir (563959) | about 11 years ago | (#6786744)

Time to /. the Intuitor website:

2.3 seconds :D

a personal favorite (1)

jtroutman (121577) | about 11 years ago | (#6786751)

At the end of Red Planet, Val Kilmer's character is in the zero G section of the ship and the computer suggests the doctor should stand him up!!
UP??? It's zero friggin G!! What the fuck is UP??

Re:a personal favorite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786787)

Calm down, Ender.

Re:a personal favorite (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | about 11 years ago | (#6786805)

Oh man that movie sucked so much ass that I had, up until reading your post, blocked it from my mind.

Thanks for dredging up that painful memory.

Re:a personal favorite (1)

alx512 (194670) | about 11 years ago | (#6786870)

my favorite: The spinning M&M DNA helix from Mission to Mars.

What about making a man? (2, Funny)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 11 years ago | (#6786752)

Apparently to make a man, complete with 6 pack abs and a nice gold lame speedo, you just need a big ass empty aquarium and some funky colored fluids... but you do need to be wearing some really trashy lingerie...

(rocky horror picture show for those who are too young to remember, or maybe humor impaired)

Star Wars (1)

The Old Burke (679901) | about 11 years ago | (#6786757)

This movie is really anoying for someone thats into science. The way time is used for example is way of what sciientific data supports.

But the most anoying is probably the Darth Vader helmet [] . How is it possible to live with such a helmet? How does he breath? And there is now data about how they in the future have soved the problem with steam from the mouth.

Re:Star Wars (1)

One Louder (595430) | about 11 years ago | (#6786818)

And there is now data about how they in the future have soved the problem with steam from the mouth.
Star Wars doens't take place in the future of even here - it takes place:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away....

Re:Star Wars (1)

FroMan (111520) | about 11 years ago | (#6786895)

Yeah, and how does a white guy sound like James Earl Jones? They never answered that.

Re:Star Wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786908)

The point is that Darth Vader can't live without the helmet. It's part of a life support system.

Oh please, people (1)

Milkhorse (700543) | about 11 years ago | (#6786759)

If we were constrained by the limits of "REAL SCIENCE", the entire sci-fi genre would be the most boring thing ever.

Re:Oh please, people (1)

El (94934) | about 11 years ago | (#6786916)

Especially if they depicted the minimum 4 lightyear trip to get to the nearest star in real time...

Well... (5, Funny)

OneIsNotPrime (609963) | about 11 years ago | (#6786760)

I hope I am not too presumptive too think I speak for the entire Slashdot community in saying...


...and, while I have this chance to speak for everyone




However sea cucumbers (1)

ahfoo (223186) | about 11 years ago | (#6786764)

are featured large in the biochemistry GRE subject test. It's that fission reproduction trick and the related regenerative abilities that gets them all the attention.

Arthur C. Clarke said... (3, Interesting)

bennomatic (691188) | about 11 years ago | (#6786769)

...something like, "Any science sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic."

Thus, I feel that films about the realms of magic fall into the same catagory. There are so many inconsistencies in the Harry Potter stories, for example, they make me wince. My girlfriend laughs and reminds me that it's just a story, but it's often not about the magic or science (as the case may be). It's often just an issue of consistency. I mean, if those kids can cast a spell to keep their faces dry in the rain, why can't they cast it on their whole bodies?

OK, I guess I've got better things to do than rant about Harry Potter... Or do I?

Let's Face It... (5, Interesting)

Gothic_Walrus (692125) | about 11 years ago | (#6786776)

For the most part, movie goers don't care if it's realistic or not. Lightsabers are a hell of a lot more interesting than laser pointers, even if the sabers can't physically exist. Until Hollywood is overrun by geeks, we can't expect anything close to real science in films.

/stating the obvious

Real or like Star Trek (5, Interesting)

chill (34294) | about 11 years ago | (#6786778)

A few years back I worked as an animator (Lightwave 3D) for a production company pitching a pilot to Universal.

It was a space scene and I was told "make it look real". I did, physics and all.

Then the producer looked at it and asked why the stars didn't move ala Star Trek. I explained that will the ship was moving fast, there are no know little glowing dots in space to zip by and smack the camera. Stars are big and very, very far away.

He said "fix it, and do it right this time!"


Half the time, it would be easy to fix! (5, Interesting)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | about 11 years ago | (#6786780)

Look at Total Recall [] .

At the end of the movie, Arnie and the generic love interest end up out on the Martian surface without suits, gasping, their eyes bulging like tennis balls, and the "airmaker" gets going, venting out precious oxygen. A wave of wind washes over them, and suddenly they're back to normal, no worse for the wear. The "wind wave" slams into the colony and windows explode inward.

Okay, first off, if your skin and eyes are stretched like that, you would have serious damage to contend with. Just to make some sort of nod toward this, they might have shown them with bruises and bloodshot eyes, but no...

Second, as presented, there's no way that air machine could have created a breatheable atmosphere in the time shown. At the rough rate of production shown, it'd be hours before a noticeable air pressure had built up.

But you could even save this scene. Imagine the scene exactly as presented, except suddenly, around the mountain, some shimmering globe of energy forms, trapping the air. As more air comes in, it expands, maintaining a constant pressure. This would save our heroes (well, except for the eyes-the-size-of-tennis-balls thing) and you could have a neat effect of the globe expanding, sweeping past windows that blow in sequentially as the 'force-field' passed by.

Sure, we don't know how such a 'force-field' could possibly work, but aliens can get away with a certain amount of magic. For a science fiction movie done right, see The Abyss [] . All the human tech is plausible or at least not inconceivable. Sure, the aliens do magic things, but hey, they're supposed to be more advanced than us.

Re:Half the time, it would be easy to fix! (4, Interesting)

gpinzone (531794) | about 11 years ago | (#6786896)

There's another option: perhaps it was all a "dream". Part of his secret agent package. If you want to aregue that the illusion wasn't correct, take it up with the Recall company.

Hulk's Clothes (1)

simetra (155655) | about 11 years ago | (#6786790)

I haven't seen this film... but, the fact that the guy goes from normal size, then grows enormous, as do his clothes. Sure, they're ripped a little, but they go from underoo's size, to the size of a tent, and back again. And, they remain on him. Go figure.

2001 space odyssey (0, Troll)

FroMan (111520) | about 11 years ago | (#6786791)

There is a movie that was FAR too long. As far as the science behind it? My guess is there was more science in creating the drugs Stanley Kubrick was taking than the movie.

Re:2001 space odyssey (3, Interesting)

Penguinshit (591885) | about 11 years ago | (#6786879)

Actually, the science in that movie was pretty much dead-on. Remember, the book was written by Arthur C. Clarke, the guy who first described Geostationary Orbits in a sci-fi story before the first satellites were even launched.

Clarke took great pains to work out the science in his stories to be as real as possible.

Marvel comics (3, Informative)

gpinzone (531794) | about 11 years ago | (#6786792)

I love Stan Lee's work, but let's face it. Just about all of the characters' powers come from the mysterious force of radiation. Well, it's not that mysterious now. In the 50's and 60's, it was a dark power that caused all kinds of mutations. All the A-bomb testing would throughout the world would have strange side effects on humanity, etc. In modern times, people don't fall for this line so easily. that's why in Spiderman and The Hulk, the screenweiters shyed away from radiation. Of course, all they did was replace it with modern day boogymen like genetic engineering and nanotechnology.

Hulk mad! (5, Funny)

cK-Gunslinger (443452) | about 11 years ago | (#6786793)

Hulk smash puny web server!

S.W.A.T. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786795)

In SWAT, they pulled the guy over because he had a left teal light out. He was driving a new Cadillac Deville (they have LED Tailights) LED tailights dont burn out, especailly on such a new car.

Re:S.W.A.T. (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | about 11 years ago | (#6786846)

It was LA. That was as clear a case of "profiling" as I've ever seen.

Okay, I'll ask (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786801)

Since we're talking about Bad Science in movies,
why isn't []
Story of Ricky at all mentioned. If there's a movie
with bad science ideas, Story of Ricky is it.
Nevertheless, it is a great movie to watch.

If it's not hard sci--fi, it's FANTASY (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 11 years ago | (#6786807)

This is why "Science Fiction" and "Fantasy" are commonly lumped together in book stores. It can be difficult to separate one from another and people endlessly dicker over where the line is. Also, where do you categorize books which were based on the science of the day, but over the course of fifty years are systematically proven incorrect?

Now people usually separate sci-fi into "hard" and "soft" to make this distinction, because they don't want to lump sci-fi and fantasy together. This seems to me to be a pointless form of elitism. Science fiction without any scientific explanation (even if not given) behind the "science" is fantasy, plain and simple.

badastronomy (4, Informative)

mraymer (516227) | about 11 years ago | (#6786812)

Over at Bad Astronomy [] a professional astronomer reviews the science in movies.

Always informative and often hilarious... check it out!

Not just limited to bad science. (5, Insightful)

GreenCrackBaby (203293) | about 11 years ago | (#6786815)

Nothing wrecks a movie for me more than watching them talk about computers or doing stuff with computers that is so completely out to lunch that whatever illusion the movie has created so far is destroyed.

Then there's my wife, the genetics expert, for whom hollywood's attempts at describing that particular branch of science causes her to throw her popcorn in disgust.

I image that nearly everyone experiences this frustration with movies, regardless of their area of expertise though. I bet if my mom had watched american pie she would have said something along the lines of: "That's not how you bake a proper applie pie -- the crust should be darker!".

HULK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786821)

The Hulk doesn't suck damnit! Quit the bashing already, I enjoyed the frickin movie.

It's a comic book character (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786823)

Yes, they adapted it as live-action (sorta) movie, but I don't know that it qualifies as "science fiction".

aw, crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786829)

You mean there's no scientific basis for turning into a big green monster when I'm angry? Damn. More disillusionment every freakin day.

This just in (4, Funny)

whorfin (686885) | about 11 years ago | (#6786844)

The Incredible Hulk: Not Real

Also Not Real:
The Tooth Fairy
Santa Claus
The New York Times

You mean like "Superman"??? (5, Interesting)

El (94934) | about 11 years ago | (#6786853)

Lois Lane falls from top of tall building, reaches terminal velocity of about 200 mph. Superman flies up from ground to meet her halfway, resulting in a 400mph relative speed. Superman catches Lois, and she's unhurt! Yes, it's no wonder schoolchildren don't understand physics, when what passes for everyday experience violates it on a regular basis, and nobody tells them that what they see on telivision and in the movies isn't real. From what I've seen of movie representations of computers, I have no doubt that an expert in ANY field must be appalled by how that field is depicted in the movies...

If sci-fi was true, would it still be fiction?! (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | about 11 years ago | (#6786857)

The point of sci-fi isn't to mirror what's currently believed scientifical circles. The point is to entertain.

Complaining that sci-fi doesn't use real science is like criticizing porn because it doesn't represent real sex. When was the last time your pizza was delivered by a set of hot buxom twins?!

More like... (1)

Chicane-UK (455253) | about 11 years ago | (#6786858)

...The Immediately Slashdotted Movie Physics website!

There is a difference (1)

chrispycreeme (550607) | about 11 years ago | (#6786859)

between SF and Fantasy. "The Hulk" is Fantasy and should be taken in the same grain as cartoons or movies with magic, dragons etc. Real SF doesn't usually make it into move/television form (or if it does it ends up being corrupted). The best SF is still in books not in your movie theatre.

The Matrix Reloaded (1)

Bottlemaster (449635) | about 11 years ago | (#6786861)

I forgive any dodgy physics in The Matrix because Trinity's haxxoring scene [] totally redeems the series.

I usually expect breaking into a computer system to involve 3D glasses and a glove or something (after all, it's a movie), so I was pleasantly surprised by a somewhat realistic portrayal.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (no, this one is good) (-1, Troll)

Stargoat (658863) | about 11 years ago | (#6786864)

In Soviet Russia, Science Makes Fiction of You!!

The Matrix (2, Insightful)

Malc (1751) | about 11 years ago | (#6786871)

I think the problem most people who disliked The Matrix Reloaded had was that they didn't understand it. For once they were being expected to think. For once they were watching a movie that requires more than one sitting to really comprehend. IMHO, Hollywood needs to do this more often instead of constantly shovelling out brain dead crap aimed at the lazy lowest common denominator. I personally appreciate a movie that I have to think about at least a little. That being said, there were some holes in both Matrix movies.

WTF? (0, Offtopic)

BillsPetMonkey (654200) | about 11 years ago | (#6786873)

Sorry, slasheds, listen up. When I need to catch up on what's going on in the world, yunno, when I'm back from holiday or back at work after the weekend, I go to visit the BBC site (a news site) and then from the BBC site to

If reading about AMD's latest benchmark tests was news I'd come here first. But it's not. So why do I have to read the article [] there and then see it posted here a) As if some keen eye'd slashreader "discovered" it and b) As if no-one knew about the BBC site's technology section!

Realism... (1)

neglige (641101) | about 11 years ago | (#6786890)

Uh ... next time they tell us there is no TX [] and all our dreams about her are futile...

Yeah, right.

Science Documentaries (0, Flamebait)

m.e.l.l.e.n.t.i.n.e (305369) | about 11 years ago | (#6786891)

I was gonna make a joke to illustrate a point that most people would see something entertaining that may not be real rather than some science documentary on say PBS. Then I realized that this whole site is filled with nerds that like that sort of thing.

I might as well shut up because the opinions of the community here are always expressed in "reality" (i.e. Linux domination over Windows, this issue of real vs. entertaining, and the ever popular CowboyNeal presidential candidacy).

I'll probably go see one of these "fake" sci-fi movies this weekend. At least I don't have a date with my Linux box.

Oh, how they blither on (2, Insightful)

bitrott (232312) | about 11 years ago | (#6786900)

Entertainment has the power to stir the imagination. It only takes one yammering asshole who thinks he's sooo smart because he found some obvious flaw in a story to ruin the experience for others. I don't think we have much to fear by the dumbing down of science in cinema. Real science rarely makes for thrills and explosions. Those that make for good movies (PI for example)still take liberties. Poor funding for science education and rampaging ignorance are more danger to science than The Hulk.

It's pretty simple, really... (1)

bopo (105833) | about 11 years ago | (#6786903)

Making superheroes is really easy.

See, you take a guy and inject him with sea cucumber/starfish goo and have him reproduce. Then you take that child, have him hang around Jennifer Connelly for a good long while*, and then have him inhale medicinal nanites while getting zapped with lots and lots of gamma radiation. I'm not sure which part of this people have trouble understanding.

* For some reason, sexual frustration aids in the creation of superheroes; the exact mechanism is unknown, but research is underway.

You shouldn't care... (5, Insightful)

TexVex (669445) | about 11 years ago | (#6786904)

You shouldn't's entertainment!

As a computer geek, I know how to program, use the internet, and assemble collections of OEM components into working computers. I wince every time I see some Hollywood version of these activities, because they are always utterly ridiculous! They aim for entertainment value rather than realism. The teeming masses don't know any better. And they don't want to. A movie is supposed to be entertaining rather than educational or thought-provoking.

I bet it's the same for every profession. I'm sure real firefighters look at firefighting scenes in movies and find a hundred little inaccuracies or unrealistic stretches. Lawyers must have retched at "Legally Blonde". Hell, I've been on a witness stand and your average real-life court case is about as exciting as boiling pasta, and lawyers don't holler "I object" every two minutes.

Everybody who really understands the basics of General Relativity and Special Relativity knows why FTL travel and "subspace" communication can't happen. Hell, Star Trek is internally inconsistent as well -- how do you fire a phaser out of your ship's warp field, across normal space, and into another ship's warp field when both ships are travelling at some multiple of the speed of light? But the average viewer doesn't give a flip about Relativity and has no desire to analyze the fictional science. They just care that Worf gets warm fuzzy feelings about pounding Borg ships with photon torpedoes.

Ang Lee is no scientician (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6786909)

If you think The Hulk has bad physics check out Lee's monstrosity Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. People can fly without any visible rocket packs and there are no dragons or tigers to be seen at any point in the movie.

In fact, the last scientifically accurate Ang Lee movie was The Ice Storm which actually included a storm that appeared to be made of ice and appeared to accurately portray a death by electrocution. Although I did see the actor in a subsequent movie, so it may not have been real.

annoying, but... (1)

wwest4 (183559) | about 11 years ago | (#6786912)

insulting? i don't know - it seems like the movie makers are just trying to make money, and that means pandering to the lowest common denominator, and that in turn means focusing on what nearly everyone can appreciate, versus what a select few can. it's just the capitalist system acknowledging that most people won't get it... hence, it's not worth the bother of getting right. there is a subset of movies that do, and they probably represent a market share proportional to the number of people that provide the demand for scientific accuracy.

Bad science or a bad genre? (4, Interesting)

djeaux (620938) | about 11 years ago | (#6786918)

"Science fiction" has become a catchall for anything that's weird & "unreal" but doesn't qualify as horror. Someone down the thread mentions the blurring of sci-fi with fantasy & I concur on that.

Sometimes, things get blurred based on who the author is. I suppose anything that Arthur C. Clarke ever wrote gets called sci-fi, while anything Stephen King writes is horror. The Dark Tower books are as sci-fi as it gets, IMO, but betcha you'll find 'em lurking over in the monsters-under-the-bed section.

But back to the topic: If I want to see "bad science," I don't go to a theatre. I go to the undergrad labs ;-)

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