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Bad science in fiction Hall of Shame


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So season 5 of Agents of Shield dropped recently on Netflix.  It's definitely a binge worthy show, I tried watching it on air during the first season, and lost interest, but binging it, it's pretty good..

I know it's a Marvel super hero universe setting, BUT.....

*SPOILERS*  Quit reading if you haven't seen season 5 yet, there's a couple 'surprises' that this will ruin, sorta, they're not that hidden. 

Spoiler

The Earth being destroyed.  Ok, I'm on board with that.   But it looking like a broken eggshell ruined it for me.   That thing would have collapsed under it's own gravity into another spheroid object.   Yes the core may still have been visible and on the surface, just from the way the collapse happened, but cmon, it would have collapsed!

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interstellar.

No Im not here to talk about the usual stuff.

But I watched it for the 2nd time the other day and something jumped out at me that didnt before.

FYI, it was way better the 2nd time around, and much easier to ignore all the "love" BS.

Anyway, the thing is with TARS, oh spoilers I guess...

Spoiler

So they end up ditching in the black hole and they're all maybe theres a chance we could get some data out. I mean firstly, the only thing they are basing that possibility on is that they dont know its impossible. Which is weak sauce. But they are in a desperate situation, I get it.

Then inside the BH, main guy is like "You got that quantum data" (that they needed to complete the gravity theory at home in order to launch the colony ship and save humanity) and TARS is like "Yep".

So they equipped TARS with the necessary hardware to observe obscure quantum-physical phenomena (which would be sophisticated, bulky, massy and useless until its not), not just on the off-chance that he might get lost in a BH but also on the off-off-off chance that there is a way for information to escape a BH when all current science points to "no".

Think about it. Thats like giving an arctic explorer an expensive pressure sensor for measuring water pressure at extreme depths on the off chance that the ice breaks under the explorer, he sinks to the bottom but somehow survives, records data and is able to get that data to homebase.

 

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So this occured to me when I was planning an interstellar mission in KSP. 

In Avatar, the spaceships were accelerated from Earth via solid state lasers, and slowed down at the destination star system using antimatter/matter engines. The engines are used for accelerating from Alpha Centauri and the laser is used to slow down the ship in our solar system.

Why didn't anyone think of placing or building a solid state lasers of similar strength in the Alpha centuari system? Could have saved a lot in fuel cost, as the antimatter engine won't need to be used..

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Maybe, they require a lot of tech to support, and maybe were being built near the Sun for centuries.
As the Alpha ground base is just a village of miners and woodcutters, with bored doctors busy with genetic toys, they were not going to support the laser infrastructure.

P.S.
That laser is pushing the ship directly towards the planet.
What if it misses for a hundred meters?..

P.P.S.
Why nobody puts watermills under those flying rocks with waterfall?
This power is for free.

P.P.P.S.
Will the pandorian pterodactyl catch a hand grenade if throw it up?

Edited by kerbiloid
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Every movie that wants a sciency-sounding macguffin that enables time travel or warping or something tends to call it a tesseract. A tesseract is not something that gives you God Mode over the universe's laws. A tesseract is a box. This is a tesseract:

Related image

If you want to get really fancy, you can even make it into a desk toy:

Related image

 

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1 hour ago, Nivee~ said:

So this occured to me when I was planning an interstellar mission in KSP. 

In Avatar, the spaceships were accelerated from Earth via solid state lasers, and slowed down at the destination star system using antimatter/matter engines. The engines are used for accelerating from Alpha Centauri and the laser is used to slow down the ship in our solar system.

Why didn't anyone think of placing or building a solid state lasers of similar strength in the Alpha centuari system? Could have saved a lot in fuel cost, as the antimatter engine won't need to be used..

A sufficiently powerful laser would resemble a large industrial facility, not particularly easy to transport. Anyway its early days in the colonisation of the system, perhaps its under construction. Apparently it is one of the most realistic spaceships in sci-fi.

*****

My current sci-fi peeve is one I only recently thought about:

In many sci-fis [The Expanse in particular], ship fusion reactors can "go critical" and explode with a huge yield.

I am not aware of any fusion reactor design, nor any fusion physics concepts, that would allow a fusion reactor to "go critical" and release an explosion of energy equivalent to many seconds of normal operation. The explosions are always shown as catastrophic, megaton-class bursts, or talked about in hushed tones "You dont want to be in town if the reactor goes critical" "Lets weaponise this reactor" etc. etc.

By its very nature, a fusion reaction ceases as soon as containment fails. And a working fusion reactor will only have, at most, a fraction of a gram of fusing matter at any one time.

I mean sure, I can see it disabling the ship, or irradiating the crew, but a nuclear-yield explosion? Nah. 

Antimatter is another...well, matter....but when it is specifically fusion...

****

Time is not "the 4th dimension". It is sometimes useful to think of time as a dimension, but it is illustrative only.

 

Edited by p1t1o
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There is a lot of fusion reactor types.

Some of them use fission fuel, and in fact are hybride ones.

Also there can/should be auxilliary pure fission reactors.
Just to light up the fusion or for needs of docking and so on when you don't need a lot of power.
Maybe the authors mean they are irradiated by the overpowered fusion one, and an induced chain reaction begins.

Though, unlikely sci-fi authors are aware of such matters.

Edited by kerbiloid
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2 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

That laser is pushing the ship directly towards the planet.
What if it misses for a hundred meters?

The laser pushes the ship not to Pandora, but to the Alpha Centauri system. Once established in that solar system by slowing down using the antimatter engines, the ship uses a fusion engine, to maneuver to Pandora.

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On 2/1/2018 at 2:31 AM, _Augustus_ said:

In The Martian, Hermes was obviously assembled and fueled in orbit. It can obviously be re-fuelled, in orbit If that's the case, why do the MAV and MDV need to be separate vehicles? I get that the MAV has to land earlier and use ISRU so it can fit on a smaller LV and launch/land on Mars mostly empty, but why? Why not just launch it into orbit and then send a tanker and extra kick stage? There are clearly orbital tankers in this universe; how else do they refuel Hermes?

Hmm... the propellant in Hermes was Argon, and MAV needed Methalox.... If we assume that Argon was stored aboard the Hermes in gaseous form, then it would, perhaps let us reach the conclusion that cryogenic propellant transfer has still not been invented/ perfected.... So refuelling the Hermes would have been a lot easier than refuelling the MAV.

On 2/1/2018 at 2:31 AM, _Augustus_ said:

Hermes is supposed to use nuclear power in the book, but it has giant ISS solar arrays in the movie.. why exactly?

Could be redundancy, I suppose...NASA loves its redundancy... It was a drastic difference from the books though..

On 2/1/2018 at 2:31 AM, _Augustus_ said:

CNSA would/will never work with NASA.

If it lets them one up NASA, then why not? :)

On 2/1/2018 at 2:31 AM, _Augustus_ said:

Hermes in the movie looks utterly ridiculous, like some KSP creation, with the Orion command module with an airlock in front of it, ISS solar arrays, etc.

Oh! I like to think that one of the interns in the design team of The Martian must have been a player of KSP! :D

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I did not like Jake Sully... he essentially betrayed humans..and in Avatar 2, I am pretty sure the humans will return, with possibly biological weapons to eliminate Na'vi entirely....

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8 hours ago, Nivee~ said:

the humans will return, with possibly biological weapons to eliminate Na'vi entirely....

All you need at Pandora is hazmat suit and flamethrower empathy.

8 hours ago, Nivee~ said:

Jake Sully... he essentially betrayed humans

He has infiltrated his offsprings into the Pandorian elite.
They will be thinking:
Why should we keep jumping from tree to tree together with mom's blue tail cousins, when we could fly between stars like dad was doing?
Telepath six-legged horses? Pterodactyl?
Phew, what's interesting in them, we know this stuff since birthday.

So, Sully is a useful idiot who did for Pandorioan colonization much more than infamous col. Quaritch who wasted combat units entrusted to him in unequal fight against a tree and a village of downshifters.

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14 hours ago, cubinator said:

A tesseract is a box.

Well, I guess technically a tesseract is a 3 dimensional representation of a 4 dimensional object.   It's a weak analogy of what it really looks like at best.   But for Sci-fi themes go, I'm ok with them using the term 'tesseract' to describe a device (usually a small box) that invokes higher dimensional powers.   I mean, if you got a better name for one, I'm all ears. 

 

30 minutes ago, Ironcladsix said:

I don't get why star wars fans are offended by whatever it is they're offended by but the use free fall bombs in microgravity doesn't bother them. 

Well, while listing the all the things I hate about that movie, this does make my list, but it's so far down the list that a rarely rant about it.   While watching the movie, there is gravity inside the ship, as we see the crew member and the controller fall down the bay.  In fact, I had more of an issue with the way she caught the controller than with the bombs.  So the bombs, while on the rack, are under normal gravity (appears to be 1g from everything else).  So when they are released, they should fall 'down'.  But it's very easy to forgive this, as it would be simple for them to have sort of linear accelerator involved in the launch process, be it a long hydraulic ram or a rail gun style launcher.    So in the grand scope of things that are wrong in this movie, I usually let this one slide. 

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1 hour ago, Gargamel said:

[...]

Well, while listing the all the things I hate about that movie, this does make my list, but it's so far down the list that a rarely rant about it.   While watching the movie, there is gravity inside the ship, as we see the crew member and the controller fall down the bay.  In fact, I had more of an issue with the way she caught the controller than with the bombs.  So the bombs, while on the rack, are under normal gravity (appears to be 1g from everything else).  So when they are released, they should fall 'down'.  But it's very easy to forgive this, as it would be simple for them to have sort of linear accelerator involved in the launch process, be it a long hydraulic ram or a rail gun style launcher.    So in the grand scope of things that are wrong in this movie, I usually let this one slide. 

*cough* ftlrammingtactics *cough* 

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2 hours ago, Ironcladsix said:

... but the use free fall bombs in microgravity doesn't bother them. 

I read that the makers of Star Wars actually intended to 'adapt' Flash Gordon.

 

Which IMO explains all the sillyness and why it had to be set in a galaxy far, far away.

(and if anyone wants to say "Flash Gordon isn't a good sci-fi movie", spoilers : it isn't a sci-fi at all. it is a space opera.)

Edited by YNM
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Flamethrower, in almost any movies, are often depicted incorrectly. The usual image conveyed by flamethrower in movies as a large, cumbersome and very-short range Zippo lighter, is based on film prop flamethrowers, which, for the sake of safety, are fueled by propane gas. Military flamethrowers were always fed with liquid, sticky and oily fuels and gushed gigantic jets of flame, to obliterate everything combustible in their range (30-50 yards). In small spaces, they were the most frightening weapon imaginable. Also, the idea of "shoot the fuel tank on their back" to kill a flamethrower soldier isn't always guaranteed. While shooting or otherwise damaging the tank of a flamethrower will make it leak, the fuel won't ignite immediately (even a tracer bullet isn't guaranteed to do so, since there's no oxygen inside the tank) unless something else ignites it. The fuel used by flamethrowers is also actually somewhat difficult to ignite and slow burning, which is what allows it to be fired in a targeted stream without igniting the backflow and maximizing the burn time to deal as much damage as possible. That is not to say, however, that the experience is likely to be pleasant for the operator or anyone standing nearby. For starters, anyone who has seen a ruptured aerosol can or air tank knows that it would be very bad to have one strapped to your back. As the punch from your metal backpack knocks you down, a caustic, slippery, noxious, and potentially flammable substance is now spraying at high pressure onto you, your comrades, and your surroundings. Given that one is holding an ignition source designed to ignite said substance, all it takes is a clench of the hand on the trigger to take things from bad to worse. While not a recipe for an explosion, it is a great way to ruin someone's day. It should be noted that the safety measures mentioned before that prevents a ruptured tank to turn into fireball from occurring were instituted from both foresight and experience: early flamethrowers, first used on a large scale in the Battle of Verdun in World War I, were cumbersome, primitive, and extremely dangerous to their users if damaged. The slow-moving flamethrower assault teams were easily identified and became a target for every man on the opposing side who didn't like the idea of burning to death, and a well-placed grenade or artillery shell would mean the flamethrower operator's fiery end. For this reason, flamethrowers became mostly a defensive weapon fired from the relative safety of the trench.

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2 hours ago, Gargamel said:

But it's very easy to forgive this, as it would be simple for them to have sort of linear accelerator involved in the launch process, be it a long hydraulic ram or a rail gun style launcher.    So in the grand scope of things that are wrong in this movie, I usually let this one slide. 

In that case there is zero reason why they had to be fired from point-blank range. Even fired from twice (2x very close is still pretty close) the distance they were, they' have suffered fewer losses and gotten more bombs on target.

They wanted to reproduce the dambuster raid scene in space, and it jarrs the mind awfully IMO.

The rest of the movie was pretty cool, barring one or two other instances, but I just chalk that up to "starwarsy" charm.

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9 hours ago, Gargamel said:

So when they are released, they should fall 'down'.  But it's very easy to forgive this, as it would be simple for them to have sort of linear accelerator involved in the launch process, be it a long hydraulic ram or a rail gun style launcher.

So, these bombs can be propelled by some force.  Why do the whole "bombing run" and "drop" them on the target, instead of launching them from farther away.

I get that it looks cool, and the whole WWII B-17 raid thing.  But it just seems like really bad tactics.

 

6 hours ago, p1t1o said:

They wanted to reproduce the dambuster raid scene in space, and it jarrs the mind awfully IMO.

The trench run scene was nowhere near as bad as the slow, lumbering, pointless bombers.

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5th Passenger.

Two ships floating in space aside, 15 m from each other.
A crewman jumps from one ship to another (from door to door), and gets sticked in a meter from the target, complaining that he can't get over to it.
Probably, aethereal drag stops him.

On another hand, this is a rare movie where helmets aren't highlighted from inside (sic!).
Just external LED flashlights on the helmets. And even more, these flashlights can be tilted, not just nailed to head.

Though, not clear why the spacesuits are soft and thin, but not inflated.

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10 hours ago, ARS said:

Military flamethrowers were always fed with liquid, sticky and oily fuels and gushed gigantic jets of flame, to obliterate everything combustible in their range (30-50 yards).

That can get you arrested, even if not for filming.

Spoiler

3146210.jpg?435

1335107149.png

I'm fairly sure these "more accurate" flamethrowers are usually fuel lines though. Sadly I can't get the right words to find images for that.

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On 7/11/2018 at 7:50 AM, cubinator said:

Every movie that wants a sciency-sounding macguffin that enables time travel or warping or something tends to call it a tesseract. A tesseract is not something that gives you God Mode over the universe's laws. A tesseract is a box. This is a tesseract:

Related image

If you want to get really fancy, you can even make it into a desk toy:

Spoiler

Related image

 

That's not a tesseract. That's just a projection into 3-space. A real tesseract is an ordinary-looking cube that appears one morning on your desk seemingly out of nowhere, and disappears just as suddenly shortly thereafter.

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