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9 Laws of Physics That Don't Apply in Hollywood

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the relativity-also-out dept.

Movies 807

Ant writes "Neatorama lists nine laws of physics that don't apply in Hollywood (movies and television/TV shows). In general, Hollywood filmmakers follow the laws of physics because they have no other choice. It's just when they cheat with special effects that people seem to forget how the world really works..."

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GNAA announces switch to Windows Vista (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250874)

GNAA announces switch to Windows Vista

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About Red Hat:

A failure of a computer company, Red Hat burns through investor money while giving its products away for free. It is currently under investigation from the SEC for misuse of invested funds, and being sued by the GNAA for breach of contract for sucking more than specified in the GNAA's contract with Red Hat.

About the Linux community:

Trolled.



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Been there, done that. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250888)

AKA. Mythbusters.

The "Hollywood special" from a few moths back.

Re:Been there, done that. (1, Informative)

rwven (663186) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251110)

#8 is not technically correct most of the time. Almost all ammo is copper jacketed lead now. The copper CAN spark when it hits something. Obviously it's nothing like the hollywood SHOWER of sparks that we're all used to though. You also DO see "sparks" flying out the muzzle of the gun, but they're not really casued by metal. It's more like unburned powder flying out the end of the gun still burning in little specks that resemble a metal-on-metal spark.

Copper doesn't spark (4, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251338)

From the intuitor.com site mentioned in a post below:

Typical handgun bullets are made of copper-clad lead or lead alloys. They simply don't create bright flashes of light when they strike objects, even if the objects are made of steel. In the chemical industry it's commonplace to limit maintenance workers to copper-alloy or lead hammers when they are working in areas where flammable fumes may be present. Hammers made of these materials do not produce sparks when they strike objects, while steel hammers can. If you've never noticed this phenomenon with steel hammers, don't be surprised, the sparks generally are barely visible even under ideal lighting conditions.

Pet Gun Peeve (4, Informative)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251440)

On a related firearms note, they always f*** with the depiction of double action revolvers. When the actor checks to see if it's loaded, they release the catch and swing the cylinder out. They always spin it, and they always dub in the clicking sound of spinning the cylinder of a single action revolver (think cowboy Colt Peacemaker, where the cylinder doesn't swing out). In real life, they don't make any sound when you do that.

Same topics all over again (5, Insightful)

yohanes (644299) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250908)

It seems that we have discussed this kind of things so many times. Hollywood are not meant to learn about real world. It is about entertainment.

Re:Same topics all over again (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251158)

Hollywood are not meant to learn about real world. It is about entertainment.

And that folks, is why we have such films as "An Inconvenient Truth".

Outerspace is Cold (2, Insightful)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250946)

In Mission to Mars the spaceship is constantly leaking fluid into space. The fluid promptly freezes because, as we all know, outerspace is really, really cold.

Re:Outerspace is Cold (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251068)

The fluid promptly freezes because, as we all know, outerspace is really, really cold.

That one bugged me about a recent Battlestar Galactica, as well. Inside the room, the characters were freezing because the air was leaking away. (Thus cooling the room.) I can accept that. But once they're blasted into space? Not a chance of freezing. No air for cooling == no loss of heat. (Actually, you can still lose it slowly through black-body radiation, but that's another topic.) Human skin is pretty good at holding pressure, so the big things are:

- Don't hold your breath (unnecessary internal pressure)
- Close your eyes (they're more susceptable to decompression)

See the research into the Space Activity Suit [wikipedia.org] for more info.

Re:Outerspace is Cold (2, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251140)

I often wondered whether if you were in a vacuum you might even overheat? Since theres no air convection taking heat away from your body and any sweat would immediately vapourise as it came out your pores so it wouldn't have a chance to spread over your skin and cool you.

Re:Outerspace is Cold (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251236)

Since theres no air convection taking heat away from your body and any sweat would immediately vapourise as it came out your pores so it wouldn't have a chance to spread over your skin and cool you.

When you sweat, the fluids come from inside your body. Since they're already heated, they will carry away some of the heat when they vaporize. So you'd probably die of other causes long before you overheated.

In the Space Shuttle, however, the bay doors are opened for heat rejection when in flight. Unlike the "cold" problem we see in Star Trek whenever they lose power (e.g. TNG: Booby Trap), they're far more likely to overheat due to the heat rejection systems being inoperable. (Presumably, a ship like the Enterprise would have a circulatory system that would pump heat from the inside of the ship to the outer skin, where it would be rejected as black body radiation.)

Khan quoting Klingon proverbs (1)

knightf0x (218696) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251472)

Do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold in space!

Re:Outerspace is Cold (5, Interesting)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251122)

Something which is not really "physics" but I found interesting is about Suppressors:

1. They are called Sound Suppressors [wikipedia.org] not "silencers". They do not "silence" the sound just diminish it.
2. They do not really suppress the sound the way movies put it (I am looking at you Mr. Bauer).

Motion pictures have produced the common misconception that sound suppressors ("silencers") completely silence the weapon's sound, or reduce it to a quiet whistling sound, which is in most cases very far from the truth. In fact, the emergent noise can still be heard from a fairly large distance. The quiet whistling sound associated with silencers is more attributable to the noise made by air guns
3. (And the most interesting for me) They are good just for a small number of shots (Yeah, again looking at you Mr. Bauer)

Very effective suppressors either involve a large total suppressor volume, a moderately large volume plus many baffles, or wipes. It is possible to design a very small and compact suppressor with wipes which effectively silences a pistol; these suppressors have a lifetime of as few as 4-5 shots and typically no more than a few magazines of ammunition. Larger wipeless (baffle only) pistol or rifle suppressors may be nearly as effective for long lifetimes (hundreds or thousands of shots) but are relatively bulky, clumsy, and heavy.

silencers (2, Informative)

The Fun Guy (21791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251358)

If you can't kill him with five shots, then you shouldn't be doing the job in the first place.

Don't forget that you want to use a lower grain count in your rounds, to reduce muzzle velocity. The last thing you need is the "pop" of a supersonic bullet giving you away. To compensate for the reduced muzzle velocity, use a bigger caliber to get the same stopping power.

So: large caliber, reduced power round, flash/sound suppressor on the barrel.

Re:Outerspace is Cold (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251458)

"In fact, the emergent noise can still be heard from a fairly large distance."

Depends on the gun, suppressor and ammunition. With a locked bolt and subsonic ammunition, it can produce as little noise as a faint click.

Certainly there are plenty of things wrong with the portrayal of 'silencers' in movies, but those comments aren't exactly correct either.

Re:Outerspace is Cold (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251406)

The fluid promptly freezes because, as we all know, outerspace is really, really cold.

Actually, fluid in space freezes because much of it quickly evaporates when it hits a vacuum, which chills the remaining droplets below the freezing point. This is similar to the way they make dry ice by letting compressed CO2 flow out of a nozzle.

#3 is partially incorrect (2, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250952)

True enough, radioactivity isn't contagious. Remove the source of radiation, and with any luck, the body will heal. But certain types of radioactive materials DO glow without phosphorus- which in and of itself is a mildly radioactive material. Remember all of those green glow-in-the-dark mechanical clocks from the 1920s to the 1970s? Radium paint is what made them glow. And since light is in the electromagnetic spectrum- just about anything that glows without a power source is indeed "radioactive" to some extent. (note, this doesn't mean all "glow in the dark" materials, just some).

also partially incorrect (4, Informative)

swschrad (312009) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251078)

radium paint didn't glow because radium did... not in that concentration, or in those colors. the radium was mixed into a heavy coat of standard enamel with a whole bunch of phosphorescent pigments, which glowed.

until they burned out. old WWII radio dial markings from military gear have a lot of brown markings. they are radium paint with the phosphors all burnt out atomically, like a ghost image on a burned-in computer screen or monitor screen on an ATM. still radioactive and dangerous if ingested.

radium, polonium, radiocobalt, and other strong alpha emitters will emit a Czerinkon glow of blue when in the presence of hydrogen or water, which may be what you are thinking of. the blue glow is that of ionized hydrogen from the alpha hits, however, and should be thought of as a form of phosphorescence.

Re:#3 is partially incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251108)

"Radium paint is what made them glow."

Yeah, but the radium doesn't glow either. It is the zinc sulphide powder mixed into the paint that glows upon being bombarded with radiation from the tiny traces of radium (or other radioactive elements) that are present. That greenish light is the glow of irradiated zinc sulphide, not the radiation itself.

Re:#3 is partially incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251116)

Remember all of those green glow-in-the-dark mechanical clocks from the 1920s to the 1970s? Radium paint is what made them glow.

Care to remember what the other ingredient was in Radium paint?

Re:#3 is partially incorrect (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251142)

Remember all of those green glow-in-the-dark mechanical clocks from the 1920s to the 1970s? Radium paint is what made them glow.

The radium is usually mixed with a phosphorescent compound to obtain the desired glow. The Radium only provides the power for the glow.

That's not to say that I disagree with you. See my post farther down the thread for other common physics behind making radioactive materials glow.

Yes, but not for that reason (1)

tpjunkie (911544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251156)

The radium in those clocks only glowed because the radiation excited a zinc based compound mixed with the paint. However, #3 is incorrect due to the phenomenon known as Cherenkov radiation, which is caused by electrons (beta particles) emited from radioactive (or really, any other source) travelling faster than the local speed of light. This is why spent fuel rods stored under water glow blue - cherenkov radiation given off by electrons that are moving faster than the speed of light in the water. However, cherenkov radiation in air is much less common.

Re:#3 is partially incorrect (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251172)

Radioactivity can cause glowing on its own. Cherenkov (sp?) radiation is the blue glow seen around spent nuclear fuel rods in water storage facilities and its caused by neutrons breaking the speed of light *in water* and causing a shock wave thats seen in the visible part of the EM spectrum.

Re:#3 is partially incorrect (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251260)

True enough, radioactivity isn't contagious. Remove the source of radiation, and with any luck, the body will heal.

Someone on a cancer mailing list I'm on recently suggested bathing in epsom salts after radiation treatment because it "pulls the radiation out of the body." She even said something to the effect of the radiation is attracted to the salts or something. I resisted the urge to smack her upside the head and just politely explained to her how radiation therapy actually works.

Re:#3 is partially incorrect (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251340)

"Radioactive" almost always means radiation emitted from nuclear decay, and that is always alpha, beta or gamma radiation. Something that emits exclusively in the visible spectrum has to be from a chemical process. So, while it's true that radioactive materials can glow under circumstances, it always means that there's a chemical process involved.

Re:#3 is partially incorrect (1)

vondo (303621) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251430)

Incorrect. See the previous poster's comments about Cherenkov radiation. No chemical reaction is involved.

Is this a Fox news special report? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250966)

This list reads like a combination of 'well duh' and 'seen it on Mythbusters'... I'm glad they had to remind us that thunder does indeed follow lightning. Yawn

9 Bad Excuses for a Fluff Piece (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18250980)

First, let me preface this by saying that Hollywood is fiction. I think when we see the tanker truck blow up, the Power Rangers jump-kicking someone in the chest, or Neo fly through the air like Superman, we understand it's fiction. It's called "suspension of disbelief." It's what makes movies enjoyable. No one is really going to think that these things happen as regularly (or at all) in real life as they do in the movies.

That being said:

Explosions on the battlefield go boom right away, no matter how far away spectators are. Even a small thing, like the crack of a baseball player's bat, is simultaneous with ball contact, unlike at a real game.

In most instances that come to mind, the director takes care of this problem by zooming you in on the Volcano, shell explosion, or baseball hit. Once you hear the sound at the source, the director usually cuts away to the actors after the sound has arrived. (As can usually be surmised by the ash and dirt flying at the camera.)

Hollywood always gets this one wrong. On film, thunder doesn't follow lightning (as in real life, because sound is slower); they occur simultaneously.

To the human ear, they are effectively simultaneous if the lighting crack is close enough to the observer. Considering how LOUD the director usually chooses to make the thunder, I don't think it's that bad of a summation. How about we start worrying why the actors aren't taking shelter?

And because radioactive things emit light only when they run into phosphor - like the coating on the inner surface of a TV tube - you don't really need to worry.

This is actually incorrect. Radioactive "things" can emit light through two other methods:

1. They grow physically hot enough to glow red-hot or white-hot.

2. They heavily ionize the air around them, creating pretty streaks and rainbows.

However, the green-glow often seen in movies and cartoons does usually require the presence of phospher.

So, when you see a gal kick someone across the room, technically, the kicker (or holder of a gun) must fly across the room in the opposite direction - unless she has a back against the wall.

Or... the kicker could be properly grounded. If the kicker is properly braced against the ground, it's not impossible to send an unbalanced opponent off his feet. The fact that you can pick an opponent up and toss him in a single motion demonstrates that. That's not to say that the exact situation of many fights isn't ridiculous (excuse me, rediculous), but the physics of the situation don't prevent a kicker from delivering a blow hard enough to knock someone off their feet. Perhaps even to the point of sending them flying. (Though it's unlikely that it would be to the point of many kung-fu movies on strings. There's only so much structural capacity in the human body. After that, you start breaking your own bones.)

Now when they miss their target and don't go flying across the room... :-P

But in the movies, buses and cars shouldn't be able to jump across gaps in bridges, even if they go heavy on the accelerator.

Unless, of course, there is some sort of incline for a takeoff (ever notice how the Duke boys always manage to find that conveniently placed incline?) or the second section is lower than the first, thus allowing for the jump to complete depsite the drop in altitude. (As the camera appeared to make the situation in Speed.)

The problem, though, is that their voices don't change. In reality, if you slow down motion by a factor of two, the frequency of all sounds should drop by an octave.

Smash cuts don't exist in real-life, either. Yet we don't complain about those. Slow motion is an entirely artistic thing, and is not related to the physics of the situation. At all.

Pretty much the rest of his arguments fall under this section. Lots of artistic things are done to improve the quality of the movie that don't necessarily translate to real life. Yeah, we know the Enterprise doesn't make a "WHOOOOSH!" sound as it flies by. That's okay. We can't exactly be sitting in the vacuum of space watching it WHOOOOSH by at 1000x c, either

Re:9 Bad Excuses for a Fluff Piece (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251258)

"Or... the kicker could be properly grounded. If the kicker is properly braced against the ground, it's not impossible to send an unbalanced opponent off his feet. "

Yeah, that one ammused me because I do it all the time in class. One thing you learn to do when kicking hard is to be sure your momentum is going forward so the power goes into the target and not back into you.

Re:9 Bad Excuses for a Fluff Piece (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251266)

Unless, of course, there is some sort of incline for a takeoff (ever notice how the Duke boys always manage to find that conveniently placed incline?) or the second section is lower than the first, thus allowing for the jump to complete depsite the drop in altitude. (As the camera appeared to make the situation in Speed.)

I don't recall (been a long time since I watched the movie and I'm not watching it again), but I remember it looking like both a case of the 2nd section being lower and a ramp. The camera didn't show the ramp, but the bus' front end lifted up, as though it was a cat (a Cat Bus of course) leaping.

But the thing that was most ridiculous about this scene was that it was a bus. It's one thing when a Charger jumps a gap with a ramp. A bus, even going very fast, is going to have plenty of time where its front end is falling while the back end is still supported and even going up on the ramp. The result is going to be angular momentum imparted to the bus. So what should have happened is the front end of the bus dipped down faster than the center of mass, causing it to miss the lower section and end up landing upside down on the ground below.

I'm all for suspension of disbelief and unrealistic physics in action sequences, but busses jumping missing highway sections was just stupid.

BTW, if you want to see what is to my knowledge the ultimate example of ludicrous driving physics, watch Transporter 2.

Re:9 Bad Excuses for a Fluff Piece (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251436)

(ever notice how the Duke boys always manage to find that conveniently placed incline?)

I understand it's Georgia policy to place random dirt "jumpin' ramps" at old bridges, beside tall buildings, across from overpasses, near turnoffs on dirt roads, etc. While seemingly fun for them Duke boys, it has occasionally resulted in tragedy [fox19.com] .

More importantly, though, I want to know what brand of suspension system the Dukes put in the General Lee. That has to be the best car product ever built. And, how do they keep their necks so strong?

-Eric

Rule 10. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18250986)

Human cloning/duping is possible, unless your on Slashdot

Re:Rule 10. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251132)

Human cloning/duping is possible, unless your on Slashdot
Unless my what on Slashdot [is...]?
 

perfect vacuum (5, Funny)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251000)

How about the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect vacuum?

Hollywood movies suck so much it seems like they violate this one.

Re:perfect vacuum (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251384)

How about the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect vacuum?

How do you mean? I not aware of too many situations where Hollywood pretends there is?

For example, Star Trek has something called a "Navigational Deflector". This is a device (sort of a reverse tractor beam) that sweeps ahead of the ship and removes small particles from its path before they cause a catastrophe. Similarly, shows that posit the existence of hyperspace deal with this from the perspective of hyperspace being a shortcut to another place in space-time. Taking this shortcut does not necessarily convey any great velocity. Travel through "normal" space is usually done at relative velocities that are not dangerous in a non-perfect vacuum.

Some points aren't valid (1, Insightful)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251016)

4. Shotgun Blasts and Kung Fu Kicks Make Targets Fly across the Room

With the string of new kung fu films out (they run the gamut from The Matrix to Charlie's Angels), you just can't escape the small matter of bad physics. Yeah, the action scenes look great and all, but in reality momentum is conserved, such that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So, when you see a gal kick someone across the room, technically, the kicker (or holder of a gun) must fly across the room in the opposite direction - unless she has a back against the wall.

If I punch a punching bag, the bag moves but I don't. That is because my fist has the energy which transfers to the bag. I don't go flying backwards as the article suggests.

Re:Some points aren't valid (5, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251080)

If I punch a punching bag, the bag moves but I don't. That is because my fist has the energy which transfers to the bag. I don't go flying backwards as the article suggests.

Friction, dude. Try the experiment again on roller skates.

Re:Some points aren't valid (1)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251274)

If I punch a punching bag, the bag moves but I don't. That is because my fist has the energy which transfers to the bag. I don't go flying backwards as the article suggests.
Friction, dude. Try the experiment again on roller skates.

Why do I feel like saying... "Kids, don't try this at home."

Cheers,
Fozzy

Re:Some points aren't valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251424)


Friction, dude. Try the experiment again on roller skates.


Did I miss the roller-skate-kung-fu movie craze entirely?

Re:Some points aren't valid (1)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251416)

If I punch a punching bag, the bag moves but I don't. That is because my fist has the energy which transfers to the bag. I don't go flying backwards as the article suggests.

As the previous response states, 1) friction. But there's another point to this that still goes against the articles point. Mass.

Should a sufficiently large(mass) object hit another object of lesser mass, the smaller object will be 'thrown backwards' (relative to it's position) without throwing the larger object backwards(relative to it's position)... assuming flying through the air. Depending on the mass differences, velocity, and friction involved, one object CAN throw another forward, without having to be thrown backwards.

Think of a bolder thrown at you as you jump into the air. Will that bolder go flying backwards or will it just keep on trucking through you? Granted, Jackie Chan isn't normally 100x the mass of the other fighters, but his movies also don't violate physics as much as scenes from Crouching Tiger or Matrix are, but those aren't suppose to be 'realistic' films, they're fantasy films and in Fantasy or Sci-fi, everything is possible!

Cheers,
Fozzy

Re:Some points aren't valid (1)

badasscat (563442) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251428)

If I punch a punching bag, the bag moves but I don't. That is because my fist has the energy which transfers to the bag.

But an equal amount of energy is transferred back to you in the opposite direction (remember "equal and opposite reaction"). When you hit something, which side is traveling at what speed doesn't matter, only their energy relative to each other. So you're absorbing the same amount of energy as you're dishing out. That's why your hand hurts when you hit the punching bag too.

With a small amount of force, you can easily brace yourself against the ground and your body and the ground then absorb that energy. With enough force to knock somebody across the room, though, you'd probably break a few bones before you'd get the ground to absorb all that energy. More likely, though, you'd lose your own balance and go flying yourself. Either way, it's not going to be pretty for you.

This is one of those things where it's easy enough to suspend disbelief, though, because a trained fighter knows the proper bracing techniques, and the line where it gets to be impossible isn't completely clear. At a certain point, though, it does get a little ridiculous.

Re:Some points aren't valid (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251456)

Actually, it's a combination of you sticking to the floor and absorbing the energy in other ways(through your joints and muscles, etc). The bag absorbs a bit of energy by deforming, and expends the rest rubbing the air and whatever it is hanging from.

Re:Some points aren't valid (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251542)

Yes, but the bag doesn't have your mass. If it did, you would have to fall back more. And before you say, "but my feet have a good grip on the ground", remember that you also have to worry about the rotation. The friction applies horizontally at your feet. The stronger that force is, the stronger the moment that tilts you backward.

Re:Some points aren't valid (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251544)

That's because your fist has already gathered an impulse. If someone were to run up really quickly, and then kick the guy in the chest, it would be possible to stay where you are, but often the kick happens from a standstill.
It would also work if you had a good support on the floor, either by kicking at an angle which would give you slightly better grip, or stepping on some gum.

Speed of Light in Star Trek (1)

nxtr (813179) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251022)

I'm guessing it's more realistic since it , six years ago. [slashdot.org]

Re:Speed of Light in Star Trek (1)

nxtr (813179) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251062)

Dang it ... the speed of light may be 300 times faster, but they still can't make my fingers type at the speed of my thinking. Accurately, at least.

Number #1 broken rule (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251024)

Time is rarely shown as continuous, forward moving, and in real time.

They are always using edits, skipping stuff and even going backwards and forwards. Really makes it hard to enjoy a film with your sense of reality totally shattered.

Umm... (4, Insightful)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251034)

If you're going to write an article about the laws of physics, shouldn't you actually understand the laws of physics? "Equal and opposite reaction" doesn't mean that when I kick someone and they go flying in one direction, I must go flying in the opposite direction at the same speed, unless I had no momentum toward them before impact. In which case, umm, it would be kind of hard for me to hit them.

Re:Umm... (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251094)

If you're going to write an article about the laws of physics, shouldn't you actually understand the laws of physics?
Dude, hello - this is Slashdot? People "knowledgeably" comment on science here all the time without benefit of actually understanding the subject.

Re:Umm... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251320)

Kicks were a bad example, saying that gunshots disobey the laws of physics is much more accurate (as illustrated on Mythbusters). In order for a bullet to impart enough momentum to the person being hit to physically lift them off the ground and send them flying backwards, it would have to impart EVEN MORE momentum to the gun, and therefore the shooter! In Hollywood, they almost always yank people off their feet to simulate being hit with a bullet. In real life, people or large animals tends to stand there for a second after being hit, before slowly losing balance and falling straight down -- admittedly not as dramatic.

They also left out the "Superman catching falling damsel" myth. If Lois Lane actually fell off the top of a building, and Superman lept off the ground to intercept her, the impact of their collision would be MUCH GREATER than if she simply hit the ground! In essence, Lois would go SPLAT all over Superman's freshly dtycleaned costume, and Superman would be left muttering "Oops!"

Another situation where trusting Hollywood is actually dangerous is where they frequently show heroes leaping through plate glass windows completely unscathed. All the people I know that really got thrown through windows suffered life-threatening (due to blood loss) lacerations and required literally dozens of stitches, and usually cosmetic surgery.

They do apply... (1)

Foehg (48006) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251042)

Sure, they apply to Hollywood... they just don't get accepted. Not glamorous enough.

A Nuclear Nitpick (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251060)

From TFA:

"...the truth is that the most common forms of radioactivity will make you radioactive only if the radioactive particles stick on you. Radioactivity is not contagious. If a person is exposed to the radioactive neutrons from a nuclear reactor, then he can become slightly radioactive, but he certainly won't glow."

True, most cases of "people being radioactive" are the result of contamination with radioactive substances. True, you won't glow (and if you ever do, you won't live long enough to worry about it). True, neutron activation is the only way to make you slightly radioactive without actually contaminating you with radioisotopes.

But in an article that otherwise does a good job in debunking Hollywood misperceptions that lead to scientific illiteracy, I'm not gonna "radioactive neutrons" slide. What he meant is not what he wrote. (But in the blogger's defense, I've seen "highly-charged neutrons" in print, so it could have been worse :-)

Re:A Nuclear Nitpick (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251408)

I know the term "radioactive neutrons" as "neutrons emitted by radioactive decay" (e.g. spontaneous fission of a core).

#4 and #5 (5, Insightful)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251092)

I've got two complaints about #4.

1) The point of the Matrix was to bend the laws of physics. It was rather explicit.

2) The author obviously never watched Bruce Lee in action. If you plant yourself correctly you can send people flying across the room without moving an inch yourself. However, if you're in midair you certainly can't without the mentioned conversion of momentum.

Also concerning #5.

1) If it's a hole with level ends on both sides, it is entirely impossible to jump it on car without a ramp or other device to add a vertical component to velocity. However, in the event of a bridge being raised for a boat, the angle can potentially allow a vehicle to "jump" the gap. Is it likely or feasible? Not particularly, but it is possible.

2) This could have been expanded to include the "Bombs do not drop straight down" category of gravitational violation. A plane flying at high horizontal velocity v over a stationary target is not capable of dropping a bomb without horizontal velocity. Unless it fires the bomb backwards at a relative velocity -v, in which case we can have a semantic argument over whether the bomb is being dropped or fired.

Re:#4 and #5 (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251232)

in which case we can have a semantic argument over whether the bomb is being dropped or fired

I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to argue unless you pay.

Re:#4 and #5 (1)

TheRagingTowel (724266) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251304)

About #2 - Is it possible that when a bomb is dropped it has an initial horizontal velocity, but slows down to near-zero horizontal velocity because of air resistance? that thing happens with raindrops, as they reach terminal velocity toward the ground because of air resistance.

Other laws (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251112)

Fast paced music doesn't really play when something exciting happens. Not everyone in real life looks like a hollywood actor. If people speak in a foreign language, you don't actually see an English language translation at the bottom of the screen. I tend to be pretty easy going on most non-realism since it is just there to tell a story. If the plot relies on a complete failure to grasp some basic fundamental of physics, (e.g. The Day After Tomorrow), I tend to be a lot more critical.

Re:Other laws (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251514)

Fast paced music doesn't really play when something exciting happens.
It does if you have an MP3 player.

If the plot relies on a complete failure to grasp some basic fundamental of physics, (e.g. The Day After Tomorrow), I tend to be a lot more critical.
A lot of plots do rely on failure to grasp physics.

Wile E. Coyote (5, Interesting)

kfstark (50638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251144)

I am a firm believer in the ability to break the law of gravity.

I was out surfing and paddled into a wave. When I jumped up to my feet, I missed the sweet spot of the wave and ended up on the breaking part instead (ie. not a good location). To this day I swear the wave dropped out from under me followed by the board while I hung there in midair. Misquoting Douglas Adams, "gravity finally looked my way and wondered what the hell I was doing" and down I went. The couple of people who saw it were sure I was surfing a board made by "Acme".

It was a really bizarre physical sensation I have not been able to adequately explain. (or recreate).

--Keith

9.8ms^-2 (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251152)

They missed out a pretty good one. Near the start of some Bond movie (possibly Goldeneye?) there is a plane travelling straight down a cliff with it's engines on full power. James Bond jumps after the plane, falls faster than the (more aerodynamic, even ignoring engine force...) aircraft, catches up with it, gets into the cockpit and gains control just in time...

Airbrakes my friend, don't you watch Bugs Bunny (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251312)

they can stop a plane feet from the ground.

Re:9.8ms^-2 (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251350)

James Bond jumps after the plane, falls faster than the (more aerodynamic, even ignoring engine force...) aircraft, catches up with it, gets into the cockpit and gains control just in time...

Perhaps the pitch of the props had been reversed on the plane -- completely possible for most prop planes -- because it was already trying to slow down and not crash.

Re:9.8ms^-2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251376)

look up wind resistance sometime, then explain how this guy [wikipedia.org] was able to fall at the speed of sound and then watch this [skydive.tv] to see three skydivers catch a plane

What bugs me (1)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251164)

I can handle sound in space, sound from distant events being simultaneous with their appearance, and even gunshots that blow their victims backwards.

But what's really started bugging me lately, are explosions. Real high-explosion explosions look dramatically different from movie explosions, where they're generally simulated with drums of gasoline and detcord. This generates a big lovely plume of burning gas and black smoke, which is usually filmed at high speeds and then replayed in slow motion.

But when real high explosives go off, you don't get that kind of sustained burn, since detonation velocities are much faster. You get a shockwave, and sometimes no noticable flamefront at all. But the important thing is the shockwave. I'm pretty sure we've reached the point at which a realistic-looking explosion can be made with CGI, but they still keep using drums full of gasoline, even though it looks shitty. Probably the worst example I can think of is Pearl Harbor. Granted, there were so many things wrong with that movie that harping on the explosions on Battleship Row is probably a bit silly, but it illustrates my point.

Real life isn't interesting (1)

AmIAnAi (975049) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251176)

If Hollywood were only to depict reality, no one would go see movies. Reality is too boring. People want to see intergalactic space flight, time travel, dragons and people with super-human strength. If I want reality, I'll switch off the computer and go outside.

Exploding buildings, too (2, Interesting)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251180)

I lived in Fremont, CA when "Terminator II" was being filmed. For the Cyberdyne office building to be blown up, the crew put something like a hundred gallons of gasoline on the roof and ignited it. The result is a big fireball, which for viewers equates to "big explosion," but it's not, really. Most explosives don't produce flames. A hand grenade, for instance, makes a little whiff of black powder, no flames, but I guess movie directors and most audience members expect to see flames shooting out all over the place.

the most famous example is not mentioned (5, Interesting)

swschrad (312009) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251188)

basically because the western has been out of favor for a long time.

I refer, of course, to the infamous 250-shot revolver.

basically, back in the black and white days, nobody EVER reloaded their guns.

you never saw any recoil, either, but that's because those movies were made when men were MEN and sheep ran scared, and those actors were truly made of steel, riding horses at a full gallop and able to hit a bad guy in the back of the head from 300 yards with a pistol with a four-inch barrel. and their arms never moved when the revolvers and rifles fired.

and the scenery along the trail repeated itself every 60 yards or so, but then we're not going for the top 2,000,327 movie lies here, are we?

More than that wrong here.. (1)

rtyall (960518) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251198)

Sunshine [imdb.com] has all manner of things wrong with it, but it's still probably headed to this years scifi blockbuster.
I resent any film that says "Re-ignite the Sun".

Never mind hollywood (3, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251200)

I am becoming more convinced that people watch series like 24 or The Unit and are mistakenly under the impression that they are accurate representations of US capability. Vast computing power at everyones fingertips, satellites retasked at a moments notice for real time video, instant communication anywhere in the world, highly sophisticated gadgets that never fail in the field and of course clairvoyant and all knowing agents. No surprise the US has been so gung-ho lately.

Vacuums and Muzzle Flash (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251208)

People Don't Explode in a Vacuum

Some SciFi is getting better at this, e.g. the new Battlestar Galactica, but it's still a staple of Hollywood effects.


Normal Guns Don't produce Huge Muzzleflash

Muzzle flash is bad for all kinds of reasons, e.g. It gives your position away. Yet, whenever someone fires a gun on TV there is a huge flame-thrower effect coming out the front. Real weapons tend not to do that, but they probably just look pathetic on film.

Wait a gosh-dark pea-pickin' minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251212)

Didn't I see this voted down all the way to black in the Firehose? Yesterday? What the hell do they do with that thing, anyway?

My favorite violation... (1)

Chysn (898420) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251224)

...is when a hero leaps out of a plane in an effort to catch something that's been thrown out of the plane several seconds earlier. And he catches up with it.

Slow lasers (1)

Experiment 626 (698257) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251254)

One of the liberties Hollywood takes with physics that amuses me is how lasers and other energy weapons tend not to propagate at c, but rather at the speed of conventional projectile weapons or often slower. You can see the beam flying across the screen, and sometimes the hero even has time to dodge them. Since all guns in movies can be fired as many times as is convenient before reloading, it would seem the only advantage energy weapons offer is that their projectiles give off a pretty glow.

Sound in space (1)

GrayCalx (597428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251264)

Could someone point out a movie to me where an Astronaut is exposed in space and yelling at someone else? I know of none. They're always in a suit, theres air in the suit, and assuming they have some kind of microphone/walkie-talkie setup, their partners will hear them speak.

Seriously... how dumb of a point is that? What they should've pointed out was explosions etc in space, even then though I think you could argue if the camera is set up in a ship, another ship explodes, you might hear a rumble as the shockwave hits the ship with the camera in it.

But astronauts talking? Never, ever have I seen a movie with two astronauts unprotected and talking in space.

Editor on duty needs to be fired. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251272)

Between this selection and the Nature article from 2000... time to close /. until tomorrow.

Slashdotted already (0, Offtopic)

HTMLSpinnr (531389) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251288)

DB connection timing out, boy that didn't take long. Anyone got a mirror or text capture to repost?

The FedEx Superbowl commercial this year... (1)

el borak (263323) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251290)

They seemed to think that the moon has zero gravity. Inside the dome, you floated. Once you went outside, you could walk.

It just made me stare at the screen and go "Wha?"

Nice writeup here [badastronomy.com] .

1 Law of Computers That Doesn't Apply in ... (4, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251292)

1 Law of Computers That Doesn't Apply in Hollywood: Computer passwords cannot always be guessed in 3 tries.

Re: 1 Law of Computers That Doesn't Apply in ... (1)

blakmac (987934) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251520)

they can be if... 1) the user who chose the password is a moron 2) they are using MovieOS (I hear security sucks in this one...) 3) they are using WindowsME (I hear security sucks worse in this one...see #1)

Re: 1 Law of Computers That Doesn't Apply in ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251526)

GOOD passwords, I think you mean.
If you take 5 people in a company without a password policy that is enforced, I would think 3 of the 5 will have TRASH passwords. (Look for the sticky...)

Associated Google ads (4, Funny)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251296)

Ads by Goooooogle for this article:

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The second one links to eBay, of course.

Google AdWords needs to be smarter about understanding the content from which it extracts ad targets.

What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18251330)

Do we really expect an industry that is out of touch with copyright and the Internet to follow the laws of physics? In all fairness a little embellishment in movies makes it more fun. That's why we watch movies, real life can be boring.

what I want to know ... (1)

slurry47 (27097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251368)

... is why you can always see the complete action of each shot from a handgun. When one shoots a semi-automatic handgun the whole bullet/slide action/reload thingy happens REALLY fast. So fast that it would almost always happen between the individual frames. How do they catch that on film? My brother went to film school and he never learned how that's done.

Middle C (4, Funny)

OhEd (877009) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251374)

The article says that the frequency of middle C is 256 Hz. Sorry, no, it's approximately 261.6Hz. Analysis: the article is quite flat.

Should have cited examples.. (1)

openaddy (852404) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251392)

There probably are movies that committed these physics faux pas for narrative, but while reading the article, I immediately think of two or three recent movies that did "do it right" for most of the things on the list, and the list falls flat.

I've seen lists like this before that were a lot more amusing in presentation..

on "no sound in space", "speed of sound", etc (2, Insightful)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251446)

I wonder if these people also complain when the camera has an overhead shot, since in real life people always see things at eye level.
It's a matter of perspective. In a movie, the perspective is mutable. Don't think two asteroids colliding makes a sound? Try living inside an asteroid.
"Sound doesn't travel through a vacuum!" and "Sound doesn't occur when things happen to objects which are in a vacuum!" are two different and unrelated concepts.

suspension of stupidity (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251464)

It's just when they cheat with special effects that people seem to forget how the world really works

Some people, for me it kind of ruins the movie, especially when its real obvious. Its ok for Sci Fi like the Matrix at least its explained. Has anyone seen Transporter 2? Its almost a comedy.

site is slashdotted (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18251530)

but my favorite from personal observation is:

objects have inertia orders of magnitude larger than their mass would indicate

that is, when a cartoon character starts running madly, his feet need to build up enough momentum before his body actually starts moving. hanna barbera cartoons like the flintstones, scooby doo, etc. were especially good at this gaffe/ enhancement

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