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Revisiting the Physics of Buckaroo Banzai

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the blast-from-the-past dept.

163

serutan writes "Shortly before the release of 'The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension' in 1984, physicist Carl Sneider of U.C. Berkeley wrote a surprisingly interesting essay on the physics behind the movie. Since the essay is not widely available on the web and I could only find it in plain text, I posted a more readable HTML version on my site. Among the more interesting points Sneider makes are that the oscillation overthruster is the result of decades of research instead of the usual laboratory accident, and its development corresponds surprisingly well with the evolution of particle physics from the 1930s to the 80s."

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Call It A Night, Cockboy! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17297720)

Slashdot only allows a user with your karma to bukkake Amanda Congdon 2 times per day (more or less, depending on moderation). You've already shared your bukkake with us that many times. Take a breather, and come back and see us in 24 hours or so.

If you think this is unfair, please email posting@slashdot.org with your username. Let us know how many times you think you've bukkaked Amanda Congdon in the last 24 hours.

Weird science (5, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#17297758)

Consider this, if you were to disrupt the particle behavior of an object so that its molecular bonds were permeable (since they are mostly made of space in the first place), you'd end up with the particle either collapsing on itself or blown to bits due to repulsive charges of neigbor particles. So Banzai wouldn't be able to fly through a mountain because the mountain would have collapsed upon itself. If he used the oscillator on himself and his ship, he wouldn't be able to recover from the damage.

There's no doubt a lot of fun speculation to be made here, but if you're going to get your science from the web, it's best to stay away from Slashdot.

Re:Weird science (5, Insightful)

IdahoEv (195056) | more than 7 years ago | (#17297786)

On the other hand, not knowing much about particle physics, I had always assumed that the "science" in Buckaroo Banzai was just so much vapid technobabble.

The fact that phrases like "intermediate vector bosons" tossed around in the movie actually have a connection of any sort at all to the issues being discussed puts BB already a few parsecs ahead of the typical S.F. junk that hollywood puts out.

I'd always thought of BB as a camp fantasy classic. It's refreshing to know that the writers actually knew a little science and applied it, even if the final product was entirely improbable.

Re:Weird science (4, Funny)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298228)


All the I know, is that The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (Across the Seventh Dimension), was the worst thing that I ever ever got in charades once. My sister got Jaws!

Re:Weird science (2, Funny)

azuravian (850674) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299654)

Seems like that would have been hard in charades. Especially since you're trying to get people to guess a movie that doesn't even exist.

Re:Weird science (1)

slothman32 (629113) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299814)

doesn't even exist
That's like on the Seinfeld episode "Bubble Boy".
"I'm sorry it's the 'Moops'."

Re:Weird science (4, Interesting)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298708)

For what it's worth, if you like it, it's pretty much a direct lift from the classic Doc Savage, "Man of Bronze" pulps of the 30s and 40s. They weren't camp at the time, just from a different era, both in terms of literature and science. This was before physics was considered a major branch of science, so much of the wizz-bang new inventions are through the modern miracle of cutting edge chemistry. The characters were painted in bright, broad strokes, just like Buckaroo's sidekicks. One even carries around a long eared pig. Ethnic stereotypes and slurs weren't considered politically incorrect, and women had only had the ability to vote for ten years, so you have to take some things with an understanding of the era (i.e., if you're offended by such things, don't read 'em).


Fun stuff, and highly recommended if you really like Science Fiction, as you can see where much of it came from. The Philip José Farmer take on the characters later in the century is a different beast (enjoyable, but not what we're talking about). Things like ice bullets and enzymes are the high tech weapons, plus a little dabbling in the (even at the time) classics of SF like hollow world theory. (There was an official Doc Savage movie that was done to be camp and sucked monkey balls).

--
Evan

Re:Weird science (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299510)

I loved that movie (Doc Savage) as a kid. I've only seen it on the spanish channels recently. As horrible as it is, I'd still like to see it again uncut and in english.

Re:Weird science (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299560)

I was glancing through the shelves of the video store the other day, and saw the "Doc Savage" movie there. One of these days when I have some lifespan to waste, I'd like to watch it. Any comments, to move it up or down on my priority list?

Well... (1)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17300268)

It doesn't suck as much as the movie of The Shadow.

That doesn't really tell you much, though, does it.

Re:Weird science (3, Interesting)

mbourgon (186257) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299606)

Agreed on the Doc Savage reference. Buckaroo is an updated version of the old pulps - and the novelization of the movie (written by the script writer) is written like a pulp, complete with references to other adventures. FWIW, Evan, someone took the old movie and replaced the "songs" with the original (instrumental) John Philips Sousa tunes, and it makes the movie MUCH more watchable. Still not great, but it holds up a whole lot better this way than I would've imagined.

Here's hoping that Raimi does wind up doing Doc (he recently got the rights to do movies based off of Street & Smith characters).

before physics was ... (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299686)

...pulps of the 30s and 40s. ...This was before physics was considered a major branch of science,
So Einstein was just working on minor science? (1905 was his big year)

Re:before physics was ... (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299980)

So Einstein was just working on minor science? (1905 was his big year)

In popular thought, Einstein was a mathematician, really smart but not doing anything relevant to real life. Physics and physicists didn't much enter the public consciousness as The Big Science until WWII - radar, nukes, et cetera.

Re:before physics was ... (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17300018)

It really was science with no practical applications then. The sad thing is just as WWI was the fought with chemistry war WWII was the war fought with physics.

Re:before physics was ... (1)

Ana10g (966013) | more than 7 years ago | (#17300340)

So, if WWI was fought as a Chemistry war, and WWII was the war fought with Physics, what's WWIII going to be? The war fought with Quantum Physics? String Theory? This could get pretty messy!

Re:before physics was ... (1)

LordPhantom (763327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17300604)

Well, at least we know about WW IV....
"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." -- Albert Einstein

Re:before physics was ... (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301190)

Actually WWII was fought with Quantum Physics.

WWIII is being fought with the media.

Re:Weird science (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301194)

As an ex-laser-freak, I note that the physics and math in the background of "Real Genius" -- the stuff written on chalkboards and equipment on the benches -- was all good science. It was just the stuff in the foreground that sucked. I think that's often the case with movies intended for the camp/dork crowd, that they get people with some experience in the subject to at least try and prop it up.

One of the things I found most charming about BB (which might be my favorite movie) was precisely the sense of time: how the Professor and Emilio Lizardo were using an electric trolley controlled by knife switches to get to the required velocity, BB was using a Ford F-series pickup with a jet, and the Black Lectroids had a full-on starship, all to do the same thing. I also loved the set design in the Black Lectroid starship, with cryrogenic fluids flowing through channels grown in the walls. That would've been a fun movie to work on.

The script for the sequel (BB against the world crime league) exists, but it's really hard to get your hands on, and is kind of disappointing. I still hope it'll happen.

I dunno (2, Funny)

deft (253558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17297818)

On slashdot sure I see some morons, but there's usually some people on here so smart I don't understand a thing they said to smack down the moron, and somehow I say that's expertise.

Re:I dunno (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298522)

Kaluza Klein ... Intermediate Vector Boson ... Brane Theory .... Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow ..... SMACK! MORON!

Re:I dunno (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17300272)

Laugh while you can, monkey boy!

If neutrons were flowing, they could reverse the polarity by making them flow in the opposite direction somehow. Polarity is not nescesarily elecrical polarity.

Re:I dunno (3, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298950)

I believe that that's one of Clarke's Laws. Any sufficiently advanced technobabble is indistinguishable from smack.

Re:I dunno (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298976)

Mod parent diagonal.

Now excuse me while I go phlib my enjuntificator.

Re:I dunno (1)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299318)

Now excuse me while I go phlib my enjuntificator.

That's disgusting.

Re:I dunno (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299428)

Only when I run it on untreated sewage

Re:Weird science (4, Interesting)

serutan (259622) | more than 7 years ago | (#17297868)

Bear in mind that the article was written in the spirit of making the movie more enjoyable for people who are geeky enough to understand something about particle physics. The point was not to prove the feasibility of the oscillation overthruster, but to show that the science thread that runs through Buckaroo Banzai is a cut above standard movie technobabble. Sneider sort of addressed the mountain-collapsing issue by mentioning that the area of effect was small and short-lived, which is why the jet car had to travel 700 mph to keep up with it. It's all in fun.

Re:Weird science (3, Insightful)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298978)

"The point was not to prove the feasibility of the oscillation overthruster, but to show that the science thread that runs through Buckaroo Banzai is a cut above standard movie technobabble."

Right. It's basically an inside joke. Most people think Buckaroo might as well be reversing the polarity of the neutron flow but a few people out there are really going to appreciate the effort put forth in creating the technobabblish scenes. And this sort of inside joke is a lot harder to pull off than throwing Gil Garrard's name into a Family guy episode.

Re:Weird science (1)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299464)

"Right. It's basically an inside joke. Most people think Buckaroo might as well be reversing the polarity of the neutron flow but a few people out there are really going to appreciate the effort put forth in creating the technobabblish scenes. And this sort of inside joke is a lot harder to pull off than throwing Gil Garrard's name into a Family guy episode."

Owch... First it's the pseudo-science technobabble, then it's "Family Guy".

Next up "You're a 30 year old virgin living with Mom"

I'm thinking I'll scrap my article on the science of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" the audience is too brutal for me.

Re:Weird science (1)

redblue (943665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298434)

...but if you're going to get your science from the web, it's best to stay away from Slashdot.
Whereever you go, just not there.

Re:Weird science (2, Informative)

paiute (550198) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299804)

Consider this, if you were to disrupt the particle behavior of an object so that its molecular bonds were permeable (since they are mostly made of space in the first place), you'd end up with the particle either collapsing on itself or blown to bits due to repulsive charges of neigbor particles. So Banzai wouldn't be able to fly through a mountain because the mountain would have collapsed upon itself. If he used the oscillator on himself and his ship, he wouldn't be able to recover from the damage.

Going through matter like that is not a question of altering material behaviour in our three or four dimensions but taking advantage of other dimensions, up to the eighth. Buckaroo just used the next fifth through eighth dimension to make him and his car orthoganol to the first three or four dimensions.

Re:Weird science (3, Interesting)

mengel (13619) | more than 7 years ago | (#17300226)

Actually, as long as you did it for a really short period of time, the main effects would be:
  • particles would fall due to gravity (unless this effect also weakened gravity, but current theory wouldn't support that). But it would take a signifigant portion of a second for the particles to move much due to gravity.
  • particles vibrating due to brownean motion would possibly continue past each other possibly rearranging crystaline structures
Once you turned the field back off, the forces between the atoms would reappear, and most of the molecules would snap back into place.

If you left the field on a long time, yes you would possibly get a tunnel, as the particles would fall to the bottom of the region at which point their fields would turn back on, and there would possibly be... fusion? an explosion?

Disclaimer: I am not a particle physicist, but I do talk with them in the cafeteria...

Cool car mod (5, Funny)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 7 years ago | (#17297774)

I for one would love an oscilating overthruster on my car, it would enable me to drive through traffic jams. My only consern is that if I can pass through solid matter what is to stop me passing throught the crust of the earth? I drive a MR2 Roadster and I don't think the canvas soft top is rated to magma.

Re:Cool car mod (3, Interesting)

MaGogue (859961) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298060)

If you project your intermediate vector bosons accurately, you'll obtain a tunnel through the mountain with solid floor just below the wheels, and a collapsing yet transparent core in front.
Move fast enough, and banzai!, you tunnel through.
It is interesting to note that 'electron tunneling' is an actual term used in quantum physics.

Only make sure you don't use up your batteries too soon.

Re:Cool car mod (0, Offtopic)

SpaceballsTheUserNam (941138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298274)

that exact issue has been addressed in blog form, interesting read actually. he even goes into how to go about building one.

www.bloggerpals.com

check it out.

Re:Cool car mod (1)

Spiked_Three (626260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298518)

traffic jams, 700 miles an hour? Don't think it will work.

Re:Cool car mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17299358)

"Yeah, because you're out of phase."

"So why don't I fall through the floor?"

Laugh-a while you can, Monkey Boy! (1, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17297816)

WHERE ARE WE GOING?!

Re:Laugh-a while you can, Monkey Boy! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17297828)

Home, Home is where you wear your hat.

Re:Laugh-a while you can, Monkey Boy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17298018)

Planet Ten!

Re:Laugh-a while you can, Monkey Boy! (1)

jejones (115979) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298448)

When?

Re:Laugh-a while you can, Monkey Boy! (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298682)

Real soon!

(I knew I wasn't the only one with this idea)

Re:Laugh-a while you can, Monkey Boy! (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298402)

That's BigbooTAY!

Re:Laugh-a while you can, Monkey Boy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17299006)

Tay! Tay! Tay!

BLAM!

Re:Laugh-a while you can, Monkey Boy! (2, Funny)

rezac (733345) | more than 7 years ago | (#17300286)

It's not my god-damned planet! Understand Monkeyboy?

Posted Link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17297846)

The web server's the shits! It'll never survive the slashdotting! One more word out of you Big Booty and ... It's Boo Tay Tay Tay!

Just remember (2, Insightful)

stox (131684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17297866)

"No matter where you go, there you are!"

Re:Just remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17299616)

My favorite quote ever. And a perfect description of the personalities that you meet on the internet:

"Character is what you are in the dark."

"History is made at night. Character is what you are in the dark."

HTML more readable than plain text? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17297936)

That's news to me.

Re:HTML more readable than plain text? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17300874)

HTML more readable than plain text?
(Score:-1, Offtopic)
by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, @04:18AM (#17297936)
That's news to me.


-1 Offtopic huh?

FTS:
I posted a more readable HTML version [geekazon.com] on my site.


Yup, really offtopic. Its the title of the link to the god damned article (GDA). And just about the most absurd thing I've ever heard.

Slashdot reader: If my post is -1 Offtopic, then the summary is offtopic, but the summary defines the topic, so how can it be offtopic?

Slashdot moderator: I modded the post offtopic, yet the post addresses the summary which defines the topic... does not compute, does not compute... You are not of the body, I am Landrew. You are Offtopic, You are Offtoopic, Youuu aarreee nooottt offf theee boooodddyyy, Yooouuu aarreeee ooffff ttooppiiiccccc..... BOOM!

This was already discussed by Londo Molari (3, Informative)

rogerborn (236155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17297940)


He discussed it a long time ago in the far off, but rather close future.

Here is the link -

http://www.rogerborn.com/commentary/a-walk-among-t he-atoms.html [rogerborn.com]

""These are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others."

Best Quote (1)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 7 years ago | (#17297976)

Mandatory link [uoregon.edu] to the best quote of the movie.

Re:Best Quote (1)

Gramie2 (411713) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298878)

"Laugh while you can, monkey boy!"

Indeed a timeless line. I sometimes use this on my 9-year-old son (who watched the movie with me), and as often as not, my nickname for him is "monkey boy".

Re:Best Quote (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299028)

I also like:
Sealed with a curse as sharp as a knife. Doomed is your soul and damned is your life. - Lord John Whorfin

Re:Best Quote (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301144)

Assuming your son is not adopted, does he say "Yes _dad_" to that?

He have any uncles? ;)

The Usual Accident (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17297992)

> the result of decades of research instead of the usual laboratory accident

Decades of research is the usual method. Favourable laboratory accidents (which are recognized thanks to decades of research) simply make for memorable anecdotes. Which does seem to be about all the general populous's education and curiosity can retain, so yeah I suppose a half-wit might think lab accidents are the usual way forward. It's just a shame to see it on /..

Re:The Usual Accident (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17298160)

That's the point of the article! It's saying that the movie more reasonably potrays advances as the result of protracted endeavour rather than the usual for movies laboratory accident. Next time read more carefully.

Re:The Usual Accident (1)

shadowcabbit (466253) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298412)

Then again, a long stretch of time- and resource-consuming research usually begins with some guy in the lab saying, "Huh, that's weird..."

The Usual Latex Accident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17299550)

"Then again, a long stretch of time- and resource-consuming research usually begins with some guy in the lab saying, "Huh, that's weird..."

Guess that explains how the condom got it's start.

Re:The Usual Accident (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17300490)

Or falling off the toilet and hitting their head on the sink.

Bet Now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17298056)

http://www.ipal.jp/pict/pict03/banzai.jpg [www.ipal.jp]

Place your bets now!

Buckaroo Banzai was easy to identify with (1)

it0 (567968) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298082)

ISTFM (I Saw the Fucking Movie)

Since BB was a Adventurer/surgeon/rock musician like most of us, he was easy to identify with.

Re:Buckaroo Banzai was easy to identify with (1)

Inexile2002 (540368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298106)

For completion's sake, Buckaroo was a Half Japanese/Rockstar/Neuro-Surgeon/Particle Physicist/Adventurer and part time crime fighter. Like me.

Re:Buckaroo Banzai was easy to identify with (2, Funny)

KORfan (524397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298398)

He had it easy. Back when I was a musician/physicist/adventurer/crime-fighter, we built our own instruments and our cars were crank starters. We didn't have any of this automatic transmission nonsense, and we reloaded our own bullets, too! This guy would have to struggle to make his own vacuum tubes.

Buck-A-Roo! (3, Funny)

beezly (197427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298250)

Curse that headline. I thought this was going to be an article about the inner workings of some extreme version of Buckaroo! [firebox.com] .

I was so disappointed when I found out it was about a sci-fi film.

Buck-A-Rooooo!

Just another jab at intelligent deisgn... (1, Funny)

kaytea2k (599130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298324)

This is yet another jab at intelligent design that scientists attempt so gingerly. Really why do the miracles of Buckaroo B have to be broken down w/ the unimaginative Scientific Method?

Re:Just another jab at intelligent deisgn... (1)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299592)

This is yet another jab at intelligent design that scientists attempt so gingerly. Really why do the miracles of Buckaroo B have to be broken down

Sometimes, even normally staid scientists can derive some pleasure in terminating the trajectory of anaerobic-decompositionally accelerated projectiles into cylindrically confined ichthyoids.

Or in this case, taunting the laughably ignorant fundies.

The real method. (1)

chro57 (593073) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298454)

is the use of quadratic neutrinos accelerated through a complex (as real + imaginary) gravity field. One must be carefull to not go faster than the Linden barrier, or the cosmological theta constant, or the bosons vector collapse into photons. It's common sens. It's written in every physic books. __ O.A.C.

BZflag has benefitted (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298544)

Three cheers for B.Bonzai or there would be no oscillation overthruster flag in BZflag.
Kinda' makes ya think,donut?

Re:BZflag has benefitted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17300724)

Tim needs to add an option to show the 8th dim creatures when you're oscillated.

He got to see the director's cut! (2, Informative)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298828)

"The machine which finally enables Buckaroo Banzai to move through matter is based on decades of research that are shown to the audience through home movies and flashbacks."

Dr. Sneider must have seen an early edit of the film in 1984. The home movie segment wasn't widely available until the recent DVD release.

Don't touch that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17298884)

You never know what it might be connected to.

Just goes to show.. (-1, Redundant)

m0rphin3 (461197) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298892)

Wherever you go, there you are.

Lesson to be learned (5, Funny)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 7 years ago | (#17298928)

Not only did Buckaroo's car go wicked fast -- so fast that the on-board camera shook alarmingly -- and was able to drive through a mountain, it had turn signals . And Buckaroo used them . This Half Japanese/Rockstar/Neuro-Surgeon/Particle Physicist/Adventurer sets a good example for all of us!

Thanks, guy. (1)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299040)

Now I'm gonna have that closing music stuck in my head all day long.

Re:Thanks, guy. (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299328)

Could be worse.. as is widely known among fans, the music wasn't finished yet when they were filming that scene. On set, the cast had to walk in time to Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl," which happened to have the same tempo.

And now, you've got that stuck in your head instead. Bahahahaha!!!

Re:Thanks, guy. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17299414)

I just watched it recently, too. I like that end credits music. I'd like to have that as my ring-tone.

This is one of my all time favorite movies. Stylist wardrobe, excellent cast, fun characters, campy but a true classic.

Copyright? (4, Interesting)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299136)

Doesn't the original writer have copyright over this essay? Is it legal for it to be posted to the web without his authority? I know we don't care so much about copyright on /., but this is a bit rediculous.

Re:Copyright? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17299384)

So is your spelling! (There, I am ridiculing it!)

Re:Copyright? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17300846)

So is his spelling! (Now I'm rediculing it!)

Only on Slashdot... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17299140)

Can you post this story between two stories about copyright infringement, and see no irony whatsoever.

Dare I ask whether this person has Dr. Sneider's permission...?

Timelinesss of Post (1)

littlewink (996298) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299338)

I wish to thank the OP for the timely nature of his post. I had finally begun to forget the nonsense of "Buckaroo Bonzai" when this article caught my eye.

Atoms are mostly empty? (1, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299364)

The metaphor that Buckaroo uses is something like tiny marbles in an orbit configuration. So an atom is a tiny cluster of marbles, neutrons and protons in the nucleus, and tiny electron marbles orbiting some distance from the nucleus, and mostly empty space. Even the author uses the metaphor of a bee in a cathedral when describing the nucleus.

But aren't these tiny marbles actually just a sort of bundle of waves? That what we think of as tiny parts of matter that give the hardness to matter not really hard at all, but just a collection repellent forces? That an atom really isn't mostly empty space, but that 'space' is full of the wave functions of the electrons in 'orbit' of the nucleus?

Re:Atoms are mostly empty? (2, Informative)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299792)

That an atom really isn't mostly empty space, but that 'space' is full of the wave functions of the electrons in 'orbit' of the nucleus?
Yes and no. I am too lazy to go look it up in my quantum textbook (it's been more than a decade since I graduated) but I remember being surprised to find that, when you actually integrate the wave function, you still come out with a high probability of a particle being localized to a fairly small area in space. That is, in principle the wave function extends through the entire universe but most of its moment is within an angstrom or two (waving my hands here, too lazy to re-read-up on the math) of where a classical "orbiting marble" model of the atom says it would be.

Important questions (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299482)

Why is there a watermelon there?

Re:Important questions (3, Interesting)

MrPlastic (897702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299694)

Though the movie answers with, "Er...I'll tell you later," ISTR that Earl Mac Rauch has said that the watermelon in the vise was part of a program under development at the Banzai Institute to create food that could be air-dropped into a famine area without parachutes or other special equipment: any bush pilot could fly over and drop a load of watermelons, and the starving masses would rejoice, needing only a sharp knife to get through the tough, drop-rated skin. (This idea is somewhat reminiscent of the water spheres in the classic short story "Arena," by Frederic Brown, which are unbreakably held together with increased surface tension until something sharp releases the water.)

Re:Important questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17299712)

Buckaroo was developing a bouncing watermelon to drop from airplanes
to feed the starving kids in third world countries.

Somehow I find this amazingly entertaining.

Re:Important questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17300800)

"I'll tell you later."

I don't think it would work inside an atmosphere (2, Informative)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299538)

From the article:
The basic premise of the Overthruster seems perfectly reasonable if we could just find a way to do this. How could we shorten the distance that virtual photons travel within the atom? Since virtual photons have no mass, they are able to travel the full distance between electrons and protons. What would happen if the virtual photons were given mass? If virtual photons had mass, they would be restricted to a very small region around the elementary particles that make up the atoms.

Fair enough, but what would be the implications for the object that gets its virtual photons recombobulated this way?

First thing that comes to mind is that all matter, not just Banzai's rocket car, could move through the target (the mountain in this case). So, the surrounding air would rush into the newly created "empty space" that coincides with the mountain. This would cause a tremendous thunderclap and lots of turbulence. Since the molecules inside the mountain are no longer really solid, they'd get displaced by the inrushing air and spewed all over the place.

Inside an atmosphere, the Oscillation Overthruster would basically be a disintegrator ray.

mod 0P (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17299660)

are attending a You don't needs to The top. Or were, right now. I tried,

Big Trouble in Little China (2, Interesting)

Jonah Hex (651948) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299716)

http://imdb.com/title/tt0086856/trivia [imdb.com]

# The end of the movie invites the viewer to watch for the upcoming film "Buckaroo Banzai vs. The World Crime League". This was the real title for a sequel that Sherwood Studios planned to make if this film had been successful. Unfortunately, it was a box-office bomb, and Sherwood Studios went bankrupt. After its release on video and cable, however, BB became a cult favorite, much in the same way as Mad Max (1979) (which crawled from obscurity to spawn two sequels). Legal wranglings due to the bankruptcy prevented any other studios from picking up the sequel rights, and even years later MGM had to fight through a pile of red tape simply to get the OK to release it on DVD.
# The script for the proposed sequel Buckaroo Banzai vs. The World Crime League ended up becoming the script for John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China (1986).
Since I read this I can't watch BTiLC without thinking of Buckaroo and crew going deep under Chinatown.
Jonah HEX

Re:Big Trouble in Little China (2, Informative)

silentounce (1004459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17300084)

"The script for the proposed sequel Buckaroo Banzai vs. The World Crime League ended up becoming the script for John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China (1986)."

That's false. I recently had the pleasure to view the recent DVD release of BTiLC. One of the special features discusses how the film was developed. There is no mention of BB in there. In fact, the original script was set in the Old West. My memory is vague. But I'm fairly sure that the trivia from IMDB is BS.

Big Bootay, Tay Tay! (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299894)

I was forced to watch this movie by my GF's housemate about 2 times a week for months until another housemate and myself hid the tape on him. I think it caused me permanent trauma. I started calling him John Smallberries.

Home is where you hang your hat.

Why is there a watermelon there? (1)

snowwrestler (896305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17299922)

I'll tell you later.

this movie was groundbreaking! (2, Funny)

QAChaos (793637) | more than 7 years ago | (#17300020)

Not only does this film challenge our imagination as moviegoers, it challenges other filmmakers to throw away their sorcery, and base their fantasies on a reasonable portrayal of the way that scientists actually work. Hence after BB all movies about computers also followed these strict guidlines......

worst pickup line ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17300066)

I once asked a gal in a bar if I could show her my oscillating overthruster and she slapped me.

Wait... (1)

TALlama (462873) | more than 7 years ago | (#17300104)

What's that watermelon doing there?

Typo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17300132)

"Ernest 0. Lawrence"

That zero should be the letter "O".

Alignment solves everything (2, Interesting)

mattr (78516) | more than 7 years ago | (#17300550)

I'm quite worried a lot of people will get the wrong idea about this movie, that it's all impossible. Of course the overthruster isn't disintegrating the matter on which it is focused, it is simply enabling a bidirectionally permeable interface to form naturally between two space harmonics.

It has been long known that spacetime has a granular quality, in fact when you get small enough everything is spin networks (you can learn more about it on Wikipedia) which can basically be thought of as a quantum of space. in other words we are all just living on particles strung on lattices (see lattice theory). But since the granularity of spacetime is at a resolution of Planck units, there is obviously an infinity of other universes that can exist between the lines as it were, made of particles strung along a lattice just out of step with our own. If you can gauge the distances correctly along this string-net and apply a constant field to shift the center of gravity of space quanta a little to one side and perfectly coincide with the spin networks on a different lattice, then voila! you can continue motion over that other dimension, which is only confusing because we use the word dimension when clearly it is simply a spacetime superimposed on our own but with a topology ordered along a geometry that is slightly out of step with ours.

This duality over the lattice may seem difficult to stomach but it will be invariably clear to anyone who has gotten used to the television version's compression of the entire x-axis into the tube's smaller aspect ratio (the ultra-cool credits scene). That, and if you can believe a key researcher is named Joan Baez.

This is what the movie is trying to illustrate when the Buckaroo's nemesis gets himself stuck halfway through a wall. That probably happened partly because they were using an inefficient energy carrier (as TFA suggests), bosons not being known in the 30s, but mostly in fact due to insufficient speed, since if you lose momentum while in the interface you would have to push against quite a lot of knots in the spin network to extricate yourself. It is a kind of rigged Hilbert space, with the knots rigged along the lattices like a ship's rigging, and it is all so intertwined you really have to push with a lot of oomph.

Hence the 700 miles per hour rocket. Obviously the characters are pushing through onto another lattice and not disintegrating the matter in front of them, because if they were destroying matter not only would things probably get quite hot, but also gravity would drag down the nose of Buckaroo's craft toward the center of the Earth! And that doesn't happen at all in fact.

We shall soon see how well the movie predicts reality with the next generation of particle accelerators. TFA only makes one terrible mistake, in that they suggest the movie is wrong about magnitudes because Buckaroo is superhumanly able to miniaturize accelerators. In fact just recently research scientist Anatoly Maksimchuk and Donald Umstadter, and another team in Europe, have been able to focus high energies with table-top devices. Certainly as higher energies are reached there will be a manifold of possibilities to study. Just remember, wherever you go, there you are.

Blatant pitch (2, Informative)

deblau (68023) | more than 7 years ago | (#17300814)

The oscillation overthruster was incorporated into BZFlag [bzflag.org] , a tank-based FPS. It lets your tank 'walk through walls' and lay in wait inside buildings where you can't be shot by normal bullets. For the record, I'm an admin on a few servers, and I play regularly. Oh yeah, the game runs on Linux, BSD, Irix (where I first encountered it), and Windows of course.
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