peadar1987

Bad science in fiction Hall of Shame

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Sometimes it's acceptable for fiction to take some dramatic license with science. Heroes dodging bullets beyond all reasonable probability, pretty much everything in Star Trek...

However, sometimes things are just so egregious, so lazy that the absolutely have to be flagged up.

In Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets there's a lot of ridiculous stuff that just about stays within Suspension of Disbelief, but there's one scene where it's stated that Alpha has travelled the mind-boggling distance of 700 million miles since leaving earth orbit several hundred years previously, which would put it still comfortably within the orbit of Saturn. Would it have killed someone to check wikipedia for ten seconds at any point during the making of the film?!

Edited by Dman979
Thread of the month!

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They wouldn't be the first to flunk that.

I think 2012's planet-killer neutrinos are still funnier. They've found a particle name, and failed to read past the article header on Wikipedia.

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37 minutes ago, DDE said:

They wouldn't be the first to flunk that.

I think 2012's planet-killer neutrinos are still funnier. They've found a particle name, and failed to read past the article header on Wikipedia.

Way back about 15 years ago, in one of the Seattle Mariners commercials, their catcher Dan Wilson had some throwaway line about some paint being completely transparent to neutrinos. What made it funny was that Wilson has an engineering degree, and I'm sure he knew that the whole planet is basically transparent to neutrinos.

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Impact_(TV_miniseries).jpg

In a nutshell: the Moon is going to crash into Earth because a neutron star (which the writers consistently mix up with a brown dwarf) got wedged inside during a meteor shower. And its immense gravity causes things to randomly start levitating on Earth in the meantime. The United States tries to blow up the moon with nukes, which fails (duh), so they solve the problem by sending an Apollo lander to the moon and use technobabble to eject the neutron star, which causes no further damage once it's free of the moon.

Edited by Mitchz95

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Some Sci-Fi are good at the Fiction part and provide amazing and enjoyable stories, like Star Wars, but fail miserably at the Science part. Some Sci-Fi are extremely realistic but don't provide much of a story, like Lockheed Martins PowerPoint presentations.

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2 minutes ago, NSEP said:

Some Sci-Fi are good at the Fiction part and provide amazing and enjoyable stories, like Star Wars, but fail miserably at the Science part. Some Sci-Fi are extremely realistic but don't provide much of a story, like Lockheed Martins PowerPoint presentations.

SpaceX and their Magical BFR belong to your first category then i guess.

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2 minutes ago, Canopus said:

SpaceX and their Magical BFR belong to your first category then i guess.

No, more like a worse version then catagory two. Absolutely terrible story, in fact there is none, but it has a little bit of bored in class and/or alone in a room with a calculator, pen and grid paper grade science to it when it comes to design.

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The Space Between Us was so scientifically bad that even my girlfriend was pointing out stuff that didn't make any logical sense, and her knowledge of space can pretty much be summed up as Earth is spherical, and Venus is pretty. That's not great for the movie. Same can be said about Passengers, but at least they had good actors for that, and a halfway interesting plot.

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I really didn't like Interstellar and seeing people compare it to 2001 really drives me crazy. The story was pretty bad, but the worst offender for me was the Shuttle things they used.

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21 minutes ago, NSEP said:

Some Sci-Fi are good at the Fiction part and provide amazing and enjoyable stories, like Star Wars, but fail miserably at the Science part. Some Sci-Fi are extremely realistic but don't provide much of a story, like Lockheed Martins PowerPoint presentations.

 

15 minutes ago, Canopus said:

SpaceX and their Magical BFR belong to your first category then i guess.

BFR, Hyperloop and Boring, those are for the time being the hardest offender. Ofc it's going to be "scaled back" and the tech is going to go forward so it'll be real at one point...

 

4 minutes ago, Canopus said:

I really didn't like Interstellar and seeing people compare it to 2001 really drives me crazy. The story was pretty bad, but the worst offender for me was the Shuttle things they used.

Interstellar is not about the sci-fi. The events, tech and sci-fi are only plot devices. 2001, on the other hand, is a sci-fi.

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1 minute ago, YNM said:

Interstellar is not about the sci-fi. The events, tech and sci-fi are only plot devices. 2001, on the other hand, is a sci-fi.

You see it mentioned among hard sci-fi movies very often though. And the Story itself? "Oh no, all the crops are dying, lets find a replacement planet behind this mystery wormhole." Not that great either, atleast if you ask me.

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Geostorm. Half a minute into the film I stopped looking for scientific errors, and began looking for things they got right instead. Despite my best effort, I couldn't find anything. Anything.

Oh, and that wasn't limited to science. The way people reacted to events, the way things were organized, the way things were designed, the way knowledge of pretty spectacular events was somehow cared about by a handful of individuals, and possibly the lousiest cryptography ever put to film.

It's worse than Armageddon. Worse than After Earth. We're at Sharknado levels of stupid here, only that the film took itself seriously.

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Does roaring shark in "Jaws 3" count? I know it is not supposed to be science-fiction - but for me roaring shark places this disaster of a movie firmly in "alternative reality" kind of setting.

 

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It seems like alot of Sci-Fi sacrifice 99% of the realism to make the story good. Real spaceflight is pretty boring, all of the action in real spaceflight is only like 5-20 minutes in total while the other 6 months is just working, sleeping and staring outside a window. So you would have to sacrifice most of the realism to make it less boring. Heck, The Martian's whole story wouldn't have been possible without the sacrifice of realism, if they didn't make the dust storm 100x more powerful than it should be it would've been some Astronauts sitting inside the habitat for 3 months waiting for the dust cloud to fade away. Realism ruins fun.

If someone ever makes a realistic movie/book about spaceflight that is enjoyable to watch/read, that person deserves millions of dollars, a wonderfull husband/wife, amazing children and a beautiful house.

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54 minutes ago, Canopus said:

You see it mentioned among hard sci-fi movies very often though. And the Story itself? "Oh no, all the crops are dying, lets find a replacement planet behind this mystery wormhole." Not that great either, atleast if you ask me.

You misunderstood. It's about the "connection" between a father and his daughter, that's it. (I'm super glad it's not "between two lovers" of any sort.)

 

Hard to tell if you were hell-bent on cracking the science out of the stuff, indeed it was when I first watched it, but that realization made me shed drops of water when I watched it again.

 

EDIT : It's obviously not sci-fi though.

Edited by YNM

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Interstellar was awful. I managed to miss it in the theater, then saw the bluray on sale and bought it. I might see if a friend wants to try and trap shoot with it, that might make up for however many minutes of my life I lost forever.

All good sci-fi is about people/characters, as all good fiction is. The science fiction ideas are sometimes more forward/interesting, sometimes not, but characters are all that matters at some level. Interstellar failed on every level. The story was stupid, the science aspects were mostly stupid (yes, the black hole was well rendered, but it actually broke the entire plot (I can illuminate if required), a distant binary system would have made far more sense), and the characters were singularly uninteresting to me (I have a daughter, so I'm predisposed to care about that sort of connection in fiction... nope, not in the steaming excrement that was interstellar.).

 

Edited by tater

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4 minutes ago, tater said:

(I have a daughter, so I'm predisposed to care about that sort of connection in fiction...)

My position is of the latter tbh. So yeah, silly kids ? haha.

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56 minutes ago, Scotius said:

Does roaring shark in "Jaws 3" count? I know it is not supposed to be science-fiction - but for me roaring shark places this disaster of a movie firmly in "alternative reality" kind of setting.

 

Do the "Sharknados" count?

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I was excited about seeing it, honestly. I stayed away from all media entirely, and saw it cold, past seeing some people saying they liked it (without reading any even mild spoilers). I'm not sure I had even seen a trailer.

The crop premise. Idiotic.

The magical drone. Idiotic.

The secret space program, etc? Idiotic.

The SSTO spacecraft that needs an SLS booster. For reasons. Idiotic.

The 2 forms of tiny SSTO spacecraft with a payload mass fraction of like 99% in the first place. Idiotic.

A stargate? OK. I can live with that. (see, I'm not unreasonable)

Where's the other stargate on the other end, exactly?

The tidal world? Idiotic since given the location, no one would bother looking there as it would self-evidently be uninhabitable (radiation, plus the orbit).

They're concerned about time passing at home due to relativistic effects (it's the entire plot device ticking time bomb, after all), yet going home at all apparently requires crossing a black hole event horizon. Let that sink in.

Love, magic, whatever. This was the Pearl Harbor of recent SF movies, IMHO.

 

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1 hour ago, Canopus said:

was the Shuttle things they used

Why?  

22 minutes ago, tater said:

The SSTO spacecraft that needs an SLS booster. For reasons. Idiotic.

It actually makes sense.  The movie states they still have GPS, so there are still occasional satellite launches.  Its disguising the ssto as a normal launch.   

23 minutes ago, tater said:

The crop premise. Idiotic.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/only-60-years-of-farming-left-if-soil-degradation-continues/

24 minutes ago, tater said:

yet going home at all apparently requires crossing a black hole event horizon

they did not know that when they started out.  They assumed they were going to go back through the wormhole.  

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2 minutes ago, DAL59 said:

Why?  

Because they are idiotic. If you can launch a SSTO that has propellant tanks the size of a water cooler (they must be at least that big, right?), then you don't need other, stupid LVs.

2 minutes ago, DAL59 said:

It actually makes sense.  The movie states they still have GPS, so there are still occasional satellite launches.  Its disguising the ssto as a normal launch.   

It makes no sense at all. Anyone (nation state) capable of detecting the difference can detect that the thing is not in orbit. Anyone else would not see, the SSTO takes off at night, looks like a plane, disappears.

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Just now, tater said:

Because they are idiotic. If you can launch a SSTO that has propellant tanks the size of a water cooler (they must be at least that big, right?), then you don't need other, stupid LVs.

And then they are out of fuel once in orbit...  

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4 minutes ago, DAL59 said:

Why?  

It is able to land on a planet that is apparently moving at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light. The technology in that thing alone should have solved all problems the earth had in the first place.

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Just now, DAL59 said:

And then they are out of fuel once in orbit...  

Bring an extra gallon of propellant. Or launch another SSTO cargo unit to top it off.

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