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Bad Movie Physics Hurt Scientific Understanding 910

Posted by samzenpus
from the mommy-push-the-reset-button dept.
eldavojohn writes "A paper published by UCF researchers claims that bad movie physics hurt students' understanding of real world physics. From the article, "Some people really do believe a bus traveling 70 mph can clear a 50-foot gap in a freeway, as depicted in the movie Speed." The professors published this paper out of fear that society will pay the price. One of the authors commented on advancements in the past years "All the luxuries we have today, the modern conveniences, are a result of the science research that went on in the '60s during the space race. It didn't just happen. It took people doing hard science to do it." I commented on the physics of the most recent Die Hard having problems detracting from my enjoyment of the movie but is it really the root of a growing problem of poor science & math among students?"
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Bad Movie Physics Hurt Scientific Understanding

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  • Idiots (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamacat (583406) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:31PM (#20243509)
    Learning is learning, entertainment is entertainment. Star trek has way more fundamental problems with physics than Speed or Die Hard. People shouldn't get their science from TV.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:38PM (#20243595)
      ... and it ain't no muthufukin English homework neither!
      • by NoTheory (580275) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @10:25PM (#20244701)
        I can't believe nobody has called anybody on this.

        Learning and education should be entertaining. Or at least, you should have the option of having an interesting and educational experience. I understand that there's stuff that one has to learn simply to have a job and function on a day to day basis in society, but if you receive no joy from learning new things in some sphere (i don't care if it's baseball statistics, esoteric poetry, how to make model ferraris or whatever), somewhere, then you probably live a sad static life.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by secolactico (519805)
          Learning and education should be entertaining. Or at least, you should have the option of having an interesting and educational experience.

          But should entertainment be educational? Do you remember a summer blockbuster that was educational? Well, I remember learning a bunch of dinosaur names (which then I promptly forgot) on Jurassic Park. And I didn't know anything about the Titanic other than it sank, so I guess that one could count as historical.

          And then there are movies so atrocious that you could beco
          • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:26PM (#20245107)

            Do you remember a summer blockbuster that was educational?
            Do you remember a summer blockbuster that was any good?
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by boaworm (180781)
              The Core (2003) http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0298814/ [imdb.com] was both educational and fun.

              Atleast reading the movie physics review on it. http://www.intuitor.com/moviephysics/core.html [intuitor.com]

              Quotes such as "It's the worst physics movie...ever...." and "...the movie's heroes are at least 335 bombs short...." just make me laugh everytime I read it
              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by Anonymous Coward
                Nothing beats the screenwriter's infamous defense of his work on AICN [aintitcool.com].

                "A five minute trip to any online encyclopedia source (either MSN Encarta or the Britannica service) would let you know that the model of the Earth's Core I used for the movie is correct."

                No, seriously.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            But should entertainment be educational? Do you remember a summer blockbuster that was educational? Well, I remember learning a bunch of dinosaur names (which then I promptly forgot) on Jurassic Park. And I didn't know anything about the Titanic other than it sank, so I guess that one could count as historical.

            That's part of the problem - people assume movies that are based on real stories are factually accurate - and so base their "understanding" of history on what's depicted in the movie; not from actuall
        • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:36PM (#20245151)
          Perhaps learning should be entertaining, but the reverse does not apply. Not all entertainment needs to be educational.

          It is therefore bizarre to expect entertainment to be factually accurate.

          • by static0verdrive (776495) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @04:11AM (#20246513) Homepage Journal
            Pretty much what I was thinking. ANYONE studying for their physics exam by watching Speed deserves the mark they get.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by saider (177166)
            The problem is not necessarily educational entertainment, but rather that in an effort to create a plot device, writers need to break the laws of physics. While this is fine for fanciful styles (fantasy, sci-fi, etc) it should be avoided in settings where there is no expectation that the laws of physics will not apply. When talking about the starship Enterprise, I expect that there will be a lot of stuff unsupported by science. But when I am watching a police show, the writer should not break the laws of ph
          • by Ash Vince (602485) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @08:37AM (#20247763) Journal

            It is therefore bizarre to expect entertainment to be factually accurate.
            I actually agree with this, to expect movies or television to be accurate beyond the level needed to suspend the majority of the populations disbelief is asking a bit much.

            However I can also see the point of the original article and paper. I studied Physics and Space Technology to degree level and I can remember numerous discussions I have had with non-phsycists regarding interesting areas of physics where they actually mentioned popular entertainment as an example of why what I was saying must be incorrect.

            The real problem here is that when you get down to the nitty gritty alot of Phsycics is counter-intuitive to the layman. In order to cope with this movies and entertainment can either "dumb down" the ideas to make them sound right to the layman (also known as the majority) or can be true to the real world and make physicists happy (the few). Confronted with this choice anyone will go with angling the product to appeal to the largest market, unless you are already 100% sure the product will have no mass appeal regardless of which path you choose.

            It is true that a solution to this problem could be to make movies factually accurate, but where is the fun in that? I am more than capable of watching speed when the bus does a super jump and not be instantly objecting at how inaccurate it is (I do object to the rest of that shit film though). Most of us are able to watch entertainment and suspend our disbelief to a certain level even when we know what we are watching is inaccurate.

            I think a better solution is to force people to study Physics to a sufficient level that you gain a basic understanding of the underlying principles. I do not mean a true understanding of every concept, but enough so that you learn that the level of understanding you do have is not the complete picture and is a simplification (or scientific model) of reality.

            The thing that frustrated me about studying physics was that every year I would be told that what I learnt the year before was not really what was happening and that you could no longer rely on it to hold true in all situations that would come up over the coming year. With hindsight however this was a very valuable to learn as it teaches you that your understanding of a subject may be a far to simple to apply to the real world. This understanding extends to all things.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nwbvt (768631)

          Except...

          There are dangers of "infotainment". People get used to their education being fun and become unable to concentrate on real learning. There is a big difference between reading a journal on the the big bang and watching a Naked Science episode on the subject. But if your goal is entertainment instead of education, which are you going to choose?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by TheRaven64 (641858)

            People get used to their education being fun and become unable to concentrate on real learning.

            Educational material should be presented in a way that is easy to understand. I've lost count of the number of journal papers I've struggled through, only to find that the concepts they presented were actually very simple but presented in an overcomplicated way to make the original author sound more intelligent. There seems to be a belief in the scientific community that good work has to be hard to understand. I'm not sure who originally said this (Robin Milner maybe?), but I think it should be engraved

        • by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @01:04AM (#20245657)
          "Learning and education should be entertaining. Or at least, you should have the option of having an interesting and educational experience..."

          The truth is what matters in the real world for the most part is boring as watching paint dry. Think of all the people who are inspired to do great things but stop once they realize it's a long boring slow process. In today's instant gratification generation you really need to understand that sometimes you can only be a small part of something bigger. Take game development for instance, back when games were simpler and developer teams smaller it was there was a sweet spot willingness to suck up the hard work for creative control and unified vision. The truth is for the most part unless you are a genius it is unlikely that you add a significant amount to something you want to do, since it requires teams of people nowadays to get things done.

          Movies, games, etc, are there to take us away from what is for the most part a pretty harsh and boring reality. Learning can be fun, what is Civilization 4 for instance if not learning the in's and outs of a complex game system? The truth is most people, and even educators today do not have enough of an understanding of how to get people so interested they are willing to get to go down into the trenches in drudgery of work that serious learning requires.

          I know that learning in many respects is a very time consuming process and you can't force it. I think there is something to be said about letting people learn what interest them. In our society we 'stuff the ballot' on what we consider acceptable to learn and unacceptable, and also we judge learning whether we like it or not by whether our learning commands commercial value. The truth is many deep and serious things have no market value whatsoever in terms of taking care of yourself but it doesn't make those things any less valuable.
        • by Money for Nothin' (754763) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @01:20AM (#20245753)
          The problem is that the majority of what we need to know for our non-working and working lives is inherently not very interesting to children who would rather be doing something that children consider "fun".

          Most kids don't regard writing code as "fun", for example -- and that is the job of a software developer.

          Most kids don't regard the determination of chemical bonds as "fun" -- but that's fundamental to the field of chemistry.

          Most kids (including me, when I was one, and still to this day) couldn't care less what Shakespeare wrote -- and what he wrote is frankly irrelevant to anybody who does something useful for a living (scientists, engineers, doctors), though still useful for people who "play" for a living (e.g. actors/actresses), and possibly lawyers (when using a Shakespearean story as an digestible analogy that a jury or a judge can understand, anyway).

          Most kids don't care about managing their personal finances, because that's not "fun" -- even though they will go into debt and/or broke if they don't learn how.

          And so on. Rather than do any of these things, most kids would rather watch TV, run around outdoors (which is at least good for their physical health and socially-stimulative), play video games, smoke/drink/huff cans of pesticide, etc.. Real life can't compete with the entertainment value of delinquincy, and at the age of (for example) 14, the ostensibly more-responsible age of 21 seems almost infinitely far-away ("so who cares, right?")...

          The sad reality is that most of life is boring -- and the sooner people recognize this, accept it, move on and learn the necessary material anyway, the better off we'll all be.

          As a professional young adult, I know I spend *very* little of my 168 hours/week doing things I consider purely "fun" (playing video/computer games, poker, traveling, getting laid, writing code for a personal project (which is half work-related anyway, since such projects are a vehicle for learning new stuff))... Most of what I do involves working, doing things related to my work, maintaining my physical and/or financial health, and planning for my future.

          The life of a responsible, disciplined adult isn't easy, nor does it tend to be fun. But we find ways to make such trivial work interesting...

          More power to teachers if they can find ways to make education and learning interesting. It *can* be (and I think for most of us reading /., it is) -- but it first takes a self-driven *desire* to learn the given material; a certain passion... Without it, education is rote tedium; an obstacle in the way of other, more-entertaining things.
          • by svunt (916464) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @05:28AM (#20246823) Homepage Journal
            If you can read or see a bunch of Shakespeare's works and get nothing relevant or educational out of them, you probably live in a small, opaque metal box with breathing holes and no possibility of human contact. Fictional works in general can be extremely educational, and very much relevant to life. Their value doesn't simply come from the accuracy of the science, that's really not the point. Your life as a 'professional young adult' sounds awfully dull, I wonder at what point you'll have won whatever race you're running and enjoy life. I'm a 32 year old IT professional doing a degree in linguistics & philosophy, I have a partner who's a lecturer and also doing her PhD, and we spend a great deal of time doing things that are purely 'fun'. I have an excellent understanding of basic physics, and I thought Die Hard 4.0 was an very enjoyable stupid movie full of awesome things going BOOM! I mean, physics aside, let's talk about the biology of that kung-fu chick. She took a couple of full-speed hits from an SUV with Bruce Fucking Willis at the wheel, and her hair didn't even frizz up. I imagine anyone with enough brains to pursue a career in science, engineering, medicine, etc would be able to put Die Hard aside when they hit their exams...anyone with a brain knows that John McCain operates outside of normal time and space.
          • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @06:16AM (#20247021) Journal

            The sad reality is that most of life is boring -- and the sooner people recognize this, accept it, move on and learn the necessary material anyway, the better off we'll all be.
            Nah, that's just a mindset (at least in the developed world) created to make the millions of people feel better about their misplacement in jobs they don't actually like. There is no reason why you can't have fun while being useful, it's just a matter of finding what you enjoy and where its needed. If you aren't enjoying your existence, you should probably change it.
          • OK, disclaimer, I'm a budding English prof. But it seems a real rush to judgement to me to limit the utility of literature the way you do, to just examples or practice for creating further art. Firstly, there's research that shows that the sort of thinking demanded by interpreting art and literature is not only conducive to but necessary for more utilitarian or "rational" thought processes (Damasio's Descartes' Error is a good start). So it's useful developmentally. But there's truth too in the old liberal
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            If more people are dumb, it makes us smart people worth more. It's economically viable for us to invest in these movie studios.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by or-switch (1118153)
      Actually, Star Trek should be given more due than that. They spent a lot of time considering real physics when coming up with some of their ideas. It's science FICTION but they based a lot of it in basic principles. Warp drive functions by bunching space up in front of the ship, and then letting it expand, carrying the ship forward. Gravitational fields and some concepts of wormholes work the same way. The problem is a matter/antimatter reaction doesn't provide enough energy for this, but being the most
      • Re:Idiots (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:06PM (#20243861)
        Star Trek, like most sci-fi, basically invents technologies which work around what we currently consider physical limitations. IIRC, in Star Trek, they don't use "tachyon particle beams" to communicate at FTL speeds; they use "subspace", which is never really explained in any detail. That's the way it should be too: what's important for the story is that they have the means of communicating FTL, not the exact details in how they accomplish this. So they invent a plot device to allow the story to progress. Sci-fi which gets too involved in the details of speculative technology usually gets dated very quickly; Star Trek has lasted this long I think because the stories were more important than the technologies. They have a ship, it goes faster-than-light somehow, they have energy weapons, and can transport themselves from place to place instantaneously, within a certain range (orbit to planet surface). Given these, they come up with stories that work within that framework.

        There's a lot about the universe our physicists don't understand yet. They can't even figure out how to get Quantum Theory and Relativistic Theory to agree. They don't even really understand how gravity works, and that's the most important force which affects us humans in our daily lives. There's now some evidence that there might be other dimensions besides the 4 we're familiar with, and various particles have been detected (like neutrinos) which previously were only hypothesized. Many people like to claim that lightspeed is a hard-and-fast limit, and that it's impossible to travel faster. 150 years ago people thought it was impossible to fly in a machine that was heavier than air. There's no telling what other facets about our universe exist which we are unable currently to observe and understand, just like we had no idea how to split or fuse atoms and create enormous amounts of energy 100 years ago.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by markov_chain (202465)
          Many people like to claim that lightspeed is a hard-and-fast limit, and that it's impossible to travel faster. 150 years ago people thought it was impossible to fly in a machine that was heavier than air.

          I don't like the impossible flight thing because there clearly were things heavier than air that still flew- birds. But today there isn't anything comparable that goes FTL. But yeah, we don't know what we don't know.
        • by Hooya (518216) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @10:21PM (#20244661) Homepage
          Forget the bad physics. What about the probabilities?! Don't forget the branch of statistics!! I mean, come on.. What is the probability of bad shit(TM) happening to McClain all the freakin time?? Even worse, what are the probabilities of Bad Shit(TM) happening to McClain exactly as many times as there are Die Hard movies? Either there are some Bad Shit happening to McClain while no one is watching or there are Die Hard movies out there where none of that Bad Shit is happening and McClain is just chillin at home watching TV.

          Actually, come to think of it, Bad Shit did happen to his partner Zues. The Motherf*ing snakes on the Motherf*ing plane. But alas, McClain was nowhere to be found.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mobby_6kl (668092)
            In purely numeric terms the probabilities might seem extremely small, but there are that many Die Hard movies because Bad Shit(TM) keeps happening to Mc Clain. If it did not, no (or not as many) Die Hard movies would have been made, and we would not be having this conversation right now. Thus, the repeated occurrences of the Mc Clain vs Bad Shit struggle is a prerequisite to our discussion, which has obviously been fulfilled, as evidenced by posts #20244661 and this post.
        • by BlackGriffen (521856) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:40PM (#20245175)
          "They don't even really understand how gravity works, and that's the most important force which affects us humans in our daily lives."
          Well, not entirely true. I'd say that E&M is actually far more important to our daily experience than gravity, especially in the number of phenomena rooted in it.

          "There's now some evidence that there might be other dimensions besides the 4 we're familiar with,"
          What evidence? Point to some experiment or observation, please, not theoretical work.

          "various particles have been detected (like neutrinos) which previously were only hypothesized."
          This is entirely false. Neutrinos have been detected for several decades now, and they've even been used as tools in experiments - just look up some papers on deep inelastic neutrino scattering to see what I mean. No, what's new is that we're pretty sure that they have some mass, though we still only have an upper bound on it. In fact the last new fundamental particle to be discovered was the top quark in the 90s, and that was a couple of decades or so after the last new particle. It's now just down to the Higgs hunt as far as the standard model goes, and every particle physicist is praying that when we do find it there's something about it that doesn't fit in the standard model because otherwise particle physics is likely to die from it's too successful theory.

          "150 years ago people thought it was impossible to fly in a machine that was heavier than air."
          And those people would have been laymen who didn't know what was going on anyway. All you'd need to do is look at Newton's second law to see that if you could somehow push down on the air with enough force you'd be able to make anything fly. Even Leonardo da Vinci, a couple hundred years earlier than your estimate, knew that.

          "There's no telling what other facets about our universe exist which we are unable currently to observe and understand, just like we had no idea how to split or fuse atoms and create enormous amounts of energy 100 years ago."
          Actually, we do have a pretty good idea. Just like it turned out that Einstein's relativity was only a small modification of Newton's physics in the known regime, it's a pretty good bet that any new physics will have to reduce to the current theories, approximately, in the areas we have already explored experimentally.
      • Re:Idiots (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SamP2 (1097897) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:09PM (#20243909)
        >Star Trek should be given more due than that.

        O rly?

        So it is realistic to hear loud explosions in space from abroad another vessel, when there is no air to propagate the sound?

        So it is OK to use the hottest buzzword around to explain whatever piece of technology you need to explain, with the actual meaning of the buzzword having absolutely nothing to do with the operation of said technology (but it sure sounds "techy" so let's use it!)?

        At best, Star Trek popularized scientific theories into science fiction, leading (some) people to be more interested in science. But even then, the people who were interested in these kinds of movies (the so called "nerds", "geeks", "losers", and other anti-social labels) were the people who were interested in science to begin with. Do you really think your average 60's football jock has became interested in physics as a result of watching Star Trek?

        At not so best, Star Trek abused genuine scientific terms, due to their "scientific" sound, to suit their needs, with little regard of the actual meaning of the word. I know, they were not the first. In the 50's, "atomic" was the hot buzzword, in the 70's and later, it was "quantum", and there are a few newer ones today as well. The ironic thing is that the media is constantly looking for terms people DON'T understand, in order to capitalize on their names (since many people actually have the basic concept of "atomic" nowadays, the attempt to call the sci-fi teleporter or warp drive "atomic" won't slide anymore, but quantum? Sure. Nobody knows what quantum really is, so it's free game for the media, including Star Trek.

        At even worse, Star Trek & co have stooped to using the same dirty tricks the rest of Hollywood uses -- like loud explosions heard through a vacuum, or complete disregard for the law of momentum conservation.

        Star Trek didn't turn science haters into science lovers. It just gave established science lovers something they'd be interested in, and made a pretty buck out of it as well.
        • Re:Idiots (Score:5, Funny)

          by Sunburnt (890890) * on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:19PM (#20244031)

          loud explosions heard through a vacuum

          How is this unrealistic? Space fleets of the future outfit their crews with situational aural feedback implants. These use a miniaturized tricorder to detect environmental cues and respond by overlaying predetermined noises, which, as everyone in the Federation surely knows, greatly increases human reflexes and situational awareness.

          Hell, the directors of Star Trek are doing you a favor by reproducing that audio track in the show. Of course, I might be lying. I imagine at least one Trekker will fact-check this post.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by badasscat (563442)
          At best, Star Trek popularized scientific theories into science fiction, leading (some) people to be more interested in science. But even then, the people who were interested in these kinds of movies (the so called "nerds", "geeks", "losers", and other anti-social labels) were the people who were interested in science to begin with. Do you really think your average 60's football jock has became interested in physics as a result of watching Star Trek?

          Doesn't really matter.

          Only case in point you really need t
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            I'm not sure when this was written, but nowadays we have things like babelfish and google's language tools and Amikai (not a misspelling) that do instant translation fairly well. "Babelfish" itself is not based on Star Trek but instead on another piece of Sci-Fi, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is itself filled with ridiculously nonsensical things. Nevertheless, babelfish now exists. The algorithms are always improving. I don't see why it's impossible to think that someday we can add voice to those algorithms and put the whole thing on a chip with a small speaker that fits in your ear. (I also don't see what NASA's problem is with "standard frequencies" - few of the aliens in Star Trek live in a vacuum, they've all been in contact with other species and are usually part of one or another galactic organizations. Only non-warp enabled aliens live in a vacuum.)

            Or, as Babelfish would say (English to German and back:)

            I am not safe, when this was written, but nowadays to have we of things as babelfish and that googles of language tools and Amikai (not a false spelling) the immediate translation rather well do. "Babelfish" is not based on Sterntrek however instead of on another piece of Sci FI, the leader of the trampers to the galaxy, which is filled even with ridiculously senseless things. Exists nevertheless babelfish now. The algorithms always improve. I do no

          • I'm not sure when this was written, but nowadays we have things like babelfish and google's language tools and Amikai (not a misspelling) that do instant translation fairly well.

            Not well enough for Star Trek, and it never will. You don't even hear other people talking in their language -- only what the translation of what they say is. That's improbable enough, but there's another bigger problem -- the complete lack of lag and the ability to interrupt people mid-sentence.

            If you interrupt someone in the mid
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Vokkyt (739289)

          Star Trek didn't turn science haters into science lovers. It just gave established science lovers something they'd be interested in, and made a pretty buck out of it as well.

          I must disagree; there are many people who simply believed in the vision of the future which Star Trek presented and at least became more accepting of some of the science techniques presented in the show. A person of semi-reasonable intelligence at some point will most likely wonder, "Is that possible?", do the research themselves, and see the bits of truth mixed in with the fictitious writing in the show, or at least give some people who would otherwise be discouraged from scientific careers something

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bcrowell (177657)
        I think Star Trek varies a lot in terms of the quality of the science. Some episodes were written by people who knew more about science, and others weren't. To address your example of the warp drive: no, sorry, it's totally bogus. The basic structure of relativity guarantees that any mechanism for faster-than-light travel is also automatically a mechanism for time travel. (If you travel from event A to event B faster than the speed of light, then there's another frame of reference in which event B happens b
    • Re:Idiots (Score:5, Funny)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:40PM (#20244219) Homepage
      And if you think Star Trek is bad, you should check out Dora The Explorer. There's this one movie my kid has, where Dora travels from South America, to France, to Tanzania, to Russia, to China, all in one day. Not only that she's using vehicles like a ship, an amphibious motor scooter, and a train, (I think it's a steam or diesel locomotive, not some fancy mag lev train). She doesn't even make it plausible by using an airplane.
  • by davinc (575029) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:32PM (#20243523)
    Is there anything left that someone hasn't claimed is 'hurting the children'?
  • Well (Score:5, Funny)

    by stupidpuppy (955515) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:32PM (#20243531) Journal
    It does go a long way towards explaining the epidemic of bus jumping accidents.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by identity0 (77976)
      Site was interesting, but sometimes comes across as nitpicky about things that really shouldn't be criticized, like the whole visible lasers or flashing bullet impacts - he doesn't really ask himself if it would make the movie any better if the lasers weren't visible or you couldn't see the impacts. Hell, you'd think the fact they're using hand-held laser weapons would be the bigger problem, if you can accept that why not visible lasers.

      And his section on silenced guns is wrong. Subsonic 7.62mm ammo exists
      • by king-manic (409855) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @04:26AM (#20246565)
        Site was interesting, but sometimes comes across as nitpicky about things that really shouldn't be criticized, like the whole visible lasers or flashing bullet impacts - he doesn't really ask himself if it would make the movie any better if the lasers weren't visible or you couldn't see the impacts. Hell, you'd think the fact they're using hand-held laser weapons would be the bigger problem, if you can accept that why not visible lasers.

        Hand held laser are a very real possibility and can do fairly high damage to dark targets with portable energy supplies. They'd function much like the "flashlights" in niven's known space books. With all the resultant limitations as well.
  • Follow the money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:33PM (#20243541)
    American students are non-science jobs because that's what our economy rewards. Dentists don't have to contend with global competition. Apparently the envisioned future is that the Chinese and Mexicans will do all the work while we sit back and "manage" them, e.g. continue glutting ourselves by skimming all the profits off their work. Personally I think we're headed for trouble.
    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:49PM (#20243695) Journal
      Dentists are a poor example. Dentists actually work and provide a service. No, I think you're referring to speculators, brokers (stock, real estate, mortgage, etc), and middle managers. Just about anyone who takes a percentage of someone else's transaction or work would apply. Very little value is given, and normally the value is simply in navagating a set of rules (governmental, legal) that is not normally encountered in daily life.

      Why bother working hard in school, when you can make 6 figures as a real estate broker without ever worrying about anything but a nice smile and the ability to sell an absolute lemon to even the most simple and innocent buyer.
      • by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:30PM (#20244139)
        No, a dentist is a great example. A dentist cannot be outsourced to another country - people will always need dental work done, and it will have to be done locally unless long distance travel becomes faster and cheaper than a trip to the local dentist.

        You have a pretty terrible attitude about not-technical occupations, by the way. You need "speculators", brokers, and managers. Speculators are where the investment capital comes from - without them, where do the Googles of the world come from? Brokers are also a necessity - I don't know about you, but I'm not simultaneously an expert in all things. I could not possibly know the ins-and-outs of everything from the grain and pork markets to the local real estate market - I need a broker to make sure that my grocery store is full and that I filled out all the right paperwork for a house. Managers, for as much as they are made fun of on /., are essential. Can you imagine what would happen to an organization without any herders for the sheep? I'm an engineer, and I know that I'd certainly lose sight of the big picture if left to my own devices.

        There is tremendous value in finding inefficiencies in a system and removing them, even if the speculator/broker/manager gets a slice.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dodobh (65811)
          If it's going to cost you more than 3000 USD, it's cheaper to fly to India (or Russia)
  • Riiiiight... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sunburnt (890890) * on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:34PM (#20243555)

    It must be the movies. Before movies, everybody had a perfect understanding of physics.

  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:39PM (#20243597) Journal
    We just need to ensure that we teach our children critical thinking skills. Never mind movies, in a world with Fox News and entertainment and lifestyle stories that cloak themselves as "news", this is more important than ever if future generations are going to enjoy a standard of living that even approaches what we have now.
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:43PM (#20243639) Homepage

    I teach physics at a community college, and I actually like to use Coyote and Roadrunner as an illustration of people's Aristotelian preconceptions. When the coyote steps off a cliff, he has to stop moving forward before he can look down and go, "oh, time to fall." This is exactly what Aristotle said had to happen: an object could be doing forced motion or natural motion, but it couldn't do both at the same time. One reason Aristotelianism was accepted for thousands of years was that it does a good job of codifying the incorrect expectations that people tend to have intuitively. If it wasn't for Coyote and Roadrunner, it would be harder for me to teach this!

    My sister works at Pixar, and a lot of her work is physics simulations. (She's working on hair and cloth these days.) She says that a lot of the time, they try simulating the right physics first, but then that comes out not looking the way they want, e.g., water splashes realistically, but they want a cartoon splash, not a realistic splash. So they intentionally mung the equations to get the artistic effect they want. Well, why not? Picasso painted people with two eyes on the same side of their face.

    The reason people in the US are ignorant about physics isn't because they see movies with incorrect physics in them, it's because K-12 science education in the US is a disaster.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:00PM (#20243801)
      You're going to get tons of people agreeing with your every word and placing you in their friends list, but I'm not going to play their games and be straight with you instead: can you ask your sister to get me a job at Pixar? And will she be my girlfriend? Either will do. Thanks.
    • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:16PM (#20243989) Homepage Journal
      You sum it up nicely. (Though I'm not sure that Aristotle would consider the coyote's hanging in midair to be a valid interpretation of his physics.) In fact the problem is exactly the reverse: movies have bad physics — and bad science in general — because it's what people expect.

      Two examples: on Star Trek TOS, they tried very hard to be scientifically correct (later versions were less careful) but wimped out when they depicted the Enterprise moving through space. They tried doing it without sound (no sound in a vacuum), but everybody complained that it "felt wrong". So we got the famous "whoosh" during the opening credits and a strange rumble when the ship orbited a planet..

      In Babylon 5, they tried even harder. ("Conceptual Consultant" Harlan Ellison has many unendearing qualities, but he's always a stickler for scientific details.) So when spaceships docked, they had to pitch 180% so they could use their reaction engines to slow down. Perfectly good physics — but many casual viewers wondered why all the ships were flying backwards!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lehk228 (705449)
        and yet during a boarding of the station from the outside of the centrifugal gravity drum the boarding party dropped in from the top of the corridor.
    • by CodeBuster (516420) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @12:44AM (#20245543)
      because K-12 science education in the US is a disaster.

      That is part of the problem, but it is not the root of it. The real problem is that science and engineering are no longer as valued in society as they were during the space race and among the generation who grew up watching those early successes and failures as the cold war and the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union unfolded upon their television screens and in their imaginations. If you ask the more ambitious youngsters today what they want to be when they grow up then you will hear lawyer, CEO, real estate investor, professional athlete, and the next American Idol long before you will hear scientist or engineer. Combine this with the generally poor treatment that many scientists and engineers have received in the US job market lately, threatened with outsourcing and offshoring, burdened with long and difficult studies for, in many cases, very modest pay given the amount of work required to complete a degree in engineering, and finally low pay and seniority based pay, regardless of skill or merit, for teachers thereby ensuring that what scientists and engineers we do produce will almost never work in our primary and secondary schools. It is not just the United States either, the world today is in more danger of sliding back into the dark ages than at any other time in recent history. The war on terror, the dumbing down of our schools, the glorification of the pop idol, the rise of young earth creationism at the expense of scientific truth, the denial of global warming, and the general deference given to anyone who for whatever reason has something against scientific truth. Is it any wonder that we are falling behind?
  • by Shky (703024) <shkyoleary@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:43PM (#20243641) Homepage Journal
    Look, if you think that Speed is realistic, that isn't the movie's fault. That's genetics, the education system, and parenting to blame. Movies are not making people ignorant, they're pandering to peoples ignorance. Movies with realistic technology would be boring to most people. Sure, movies might be amplifying an existing problem, but they're not the root cause here.
  • by Jazzer_Techie (800432) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:56PM (#20243771)
    Let me preface this comment with the fact that I am a physicist (astrophysics) and am quite often frustrated by the poor physics shown in movies.

    However, I think they're neglecting a very basic fact. Humans have evolved to find Newtonian mechanics intuitive! (especially in translational cases, somewhat less in rotational ones) If someone throws a ball, you can quickly figure out approximately where it is going to land. You have no need to do calculations, because its evolutionarily hardwired into your brain. Watching a movie which doesn't accurately display a free-falling bus is not going to erase that.

    It's true that people don't know enough physics to determine the validity of what they see in movies, but they already know enough to get through life. I'd love for everyone to know enough physics to be understand the devices that they use in their lives, but that's probably not a reality in the modern age.

    I think what they're encountering is a resistance to learning the formalizations of physics. As soon as you step beyond Newtonian mechanics (really, beyond two-body problems) all that evolutionary intuition is gone. When you get to physics at that stage, you must place it on firm mathematical footing, or you have no hope of understanding: that is hard work.

    They are seeing this decline in science understanding, but I think that's an artifact of an overall educational decline, rather than a specific effect of Hollywood movies. Young people are now expecting to be entertained, and while physics is beautiful, at some point it requires you to sit down in a empty room with a pad of paper and a pencil. If anything, it's the "action-packed entertainment" nature of movies, rather than any bad physics that is likely having the detrimental effect. However, if they can entertain these students and have them learn something too, that's fine with me.
    • by neapolitan (1100101) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:31PM (#20244159)
      Agreed. Resistance to formalization also arises as it is not that glamorous -- look at the "physics-work" in CSI, or even a somewhat more realistic Mythbusters. Sitting down and calculating something is not as cool as making a big explosion or dancing around with a beautiful female in an all-glass cubicle (or perhaps I am just in the wrong job :). I think that demonstrating quantum mechanical tunneling via *math* is amazing, yet has very little intuitive grasp without the firm mathematical background.

      Mythbusters is particularly bad about this, often things that they "test" you could just do on a piece of paper and see it is or is not going to work. Other times the design of the experiment is hugely flawed, often conceptually, and nobody talks about the elephant in the room (I could give you a bunch of examples -- one that comes to mind is the 'catching an arrow' episode which does not take into account anticipation of reaction or even moving the target backward). However I (as you can tell) still enjoy the show once in a while -- it is, to me, entertainment and kind of funny. I loved "Beyond 2000" as a kid (does anybody remember this?) and Mythbusters I think is by the same producers...

      One of the things that would help all of what we outlined is a change in culture where discovery and true inquiry is advocated, asking well formulated / scientific questions is ok... To this degree, getting kids interested in answering questions empirically is a good thing. The Mythbusters occasionally visits true scientists at nearby NASA, etc., and attempts to learn very well and are respectful of what they learn, which is great IMHO. Kids / young adults will see this and want to be like the expert (hopefully!)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ktappe (747125)

      I think what they're encountering is a resistance to learning the formalizations of physics. As soon as you step beyond Newtonian mechanics (really, beyond two-body problems) all that evolutionary intuition is gone. When you get to physics at that stage, you must place it on firm mathematical footing, or you have no hope of understanding: that is hard work.

      The attitude you are presenting here is the reason that I and many others who took physics, and in spite of being interested in it, did not do well at

  • in a word, "no" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by superwiz (655733) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:56PM (#20243777) Journal
    We are not only behind in science. We are also illiterate. Most people never read any classic texts. And I will probably make at least one spelling error in this post. The problem is lack of standardized curriculum. Almost every nation that is cited as an example of someone we "really shouldn't be behind but still are" has a standard curriculum in science, math and humanities. We have too much local opposition to it from all-too-powerful teacher's unions. This is not meant to start conservative vs liberal debate (even though I happened to mention teacher's unions). Most of the time in K-12 a program for educating people over a period of 12 years is designed by teachers who can't plan for more than 1 year. They don't have the time or the background to see "the big picture" of where their particular class fits in the overall education. A separate bureaucracy (there, now you can't accuse me of being too conservative) of experts on development could do a much better job of it by designing and tweaking a curriculum for the entire nation. China does it. So does Russia and so does every European country.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:01PM (#20243819)
    I dont know about Hollymood movies and physics but Hollywood porn sure destroyed my understanding of women and sex. Here are some of the things I learnt from Hollywood porn that I found out (the hard way) weren't really true:


    1. Women always wear 6-inch high-heels to bed.
    2. Men are never impotent.
    3. Women never have headaches... or periods.
    4. If a woman gets busted masturbating by a strange man, she will not scream with embarrassment, but rather insist he have sex with her.
    5. When going down on a woman 10 seconds is more than satisfactory.
    6. If you come across a guy and his girlfriend having sex in the bushes, the boyfriend won't bash seven shades of shit out of you if you shove your cock in his girlfriend's mouth.
    7. Women always look pleasantly surprised when they open a man's trousers and find a cock there.
    8. Women moan uncontrollably when giving a blowjob.
    9. All women are noisy cummers.
    10. A common and enjoyable sexual practice for a man is to take his half-erect penis and slap it repeatedly on a woman's butt or face.
    11. A woman can't wait to get it in the ass.
    12. People in the 70's couldn't cum unless there was a wild guitar solo in the background.
    13. Men always groan "OH YEAH!" when they cum.
    14. Double penetration makes women smile.
    15 Assholes are so clean, you could eat out of them.
    16. When taking a woman from behind, a man can really excite her by giving her a hard slap on the butt.
    17. Nurses always suck patients' cocks.
    18. Men always pull out.
    19. When your girlfriend busts you getting head from her best friend, she'll only be momentarily pissed off before fucking the both of you.
    20. Women smile appreciatively when men splat them in the face with sperm.
    21. A man ejaculating on a woman's tits or butt is a satisfying result for all parties concerned.
    22. Asian men don't exist.

    I hope the next generation fed on an abundance of internet porn doesn't have the same misconceptions.

  • Die Hard has died (Score:3, Informative)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:07PM (#20243875) Homepage Journal
    The last Die Hard is most definitely the worst.
    Spoilers included, so ROT13, use this to read [mozilla.org].
    Gur vaqrfgehpgnoyr nfvna tvey trgf uvg ol n gehpx naq fgvyy svtugf yvxr abguvat unccrarq. N pne vf ynhapurq ng n uryvpbcgre naq fhpprffshyyl gnxrf vg qbja. Gur S35 be jungrire wrg syvrf orgjrra oevqtrf naq ohvyqvatf naq cbjreyvarf, ybbxf BX, ohg unf abguvat gb qb jvgu Qvr Uneq. Wbua ZpPynar vf fhccbfrq gb or guvf beqvanel pbc jub fnirf gur qnl, ohg vafgrnq ur vf fbzr fbeg bs n fhcrezna, whzcf bhg bs n pne ng bire 100xz/u naq whfg jnyxf njnl sebz vg, ohg trgf orng hc ol gung nfvna ynql cerggl jryy. Gur FGHCVQ fprar jurer fbzr angheny tnf yvar vf qviregrq gb n cbjre-cynag naq whfg oybjf hc rirelguvat, V qba'g trg vg. Xriva Fzvgu nf guvf Jneybpx unpxre fhpxrq. Jnf vg uvf jrg-qernz gb nccrne va gur fnzr zbivr jvgu Jvyyvf? Gur ivyynva fhpxrq. Ur vf oyrnx naq whfg ab pbzcnevfba gb Wrerzl Vebaf sebz gur ynfg zbivr. Gur cybg fhpxrq. Gur onq thl pna qb cerggl zhpu nalguvat sebz uvf pbzchgre. Fgbc na ryringbe va fbzr cevingr ohvyqvat? Fher jul abg. Unpx vagb rirelguvat, pbageby nalguvat (nyy gur fgerrg yvtugf, fgbpx znexrgf, cbjre cynagf.) Jungrire. Jul gur uryy vf cbjrecynag pbageby vf npprffvoyr sebz gur Jro naljnl? Gur jubyr zbivr vf oebxra vagb whfg 3 be 4 ybat ynfgvat fprarf ernyyl. Vg unq ab cnpr. ZpPynar sylvat n uryvpbcgre sbe gur svefg gvzr va uvf yvsr naq orvat noyr gb qb vg juvyr gur cbjre vf qbja ba gur ragver pbfg. Fubbgvat gur onq thl guebhtu uvf fubhyqre, bx. Naljnl, Jvyyvf vf byq naq va guvf zbivr vg fubjf. Pna'g gurl unir fbzr arj npgbef?

    As to the students thinking of science as hard, I don't think the movies are responsible for this. Being smart is apparently not cool anymore, why should it be? You can make much more dough selling SCO Linux subscriptions :) or at least playing basketball. Oh, and chicks like basketball players, not nerds.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Farmer Tim (530755)
      Gur vaqrfgehpgnoyr nfvna tvey trgf uvg ol n gehpx naq fgvyy svtugf yvxr abguvat unccrarq. [etcetera]

      Yep, that's the average undersanding of physics. If only we could port that FF plugin to wetware...
  • More Idiocracy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Q-Cat5 (664698) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:15PM (#20243975)
    Physics don't matter. In a few years, all fuel will be replaced by Brawndo [imdb.com]. (It's got what Buses Crave.)

    This is an old debate. Yes, TV and Movies largely rob you of time and money, and take up brain-cycles and memory capacity that could be used more productively for other things. Largely. It's because people choose to watch that kind of movie. We could all be watching intelligent, thought-provoking documentaries and technical films. But we don't. (Exceptions are noted.)

    Suspension of disbelief is a wonderful ability. I'm glad I have it, it allows me to be entertained by reading, hearing, and watching works of pure fiction. I'm also glad that I'm smart enough to know the difference between fiction and fact. I got that by asking questions (stimulated in many cases by unrealistic scenes in movies, I'm sure). Not everyone wants to learn, however, and those that don't want to learn are probably irredeemable anyway. And laying the blame for their failures at Hollywood's doorstep is like blaming Goth Music and Violent Video Games for school shootings. It completely misses the point that solid education (or other forms of intervention, usually originating with parents that actually, gasp, pay attention to their children) would obviate the need for babysitting people through basic fact-versus-fancy analyses of obviously unrealistic media.

    Some of us are able to handle our mindless entertainment responsibly. Those that can learn, will. Those that can't, will probably massively outnumber us within a generation or two anyway, if they don't already.

  • Twisted Physics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mal-2 (675116) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:16PM (#20243981) Homepage Journal
    Movie and cartoon physics have always been highly suspect. The difference is that until fairly recently, it was blatantly obvious when special effects "cheats" were called into play. This started to fall apart with the advent of the green screen, and ironically went completely to hell with CGI. Why ironically? Because the same computing power used to render can also be used to do the physics properly -- but it generally isn't.

    Another irony is that some movies that look cartoonish (Pixar films, for example) have more reasonable physics than movies that are meant to integrate the computer-generated effects seamlessly. Cartoons are one place where suspension of physical law is often accepted in order to support the overall comic effect, though there seems to be a sort of convention of "cartoon physics" [funnies.paco.to] as well.

    Mal-2
  • by monoqlith (610041) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:37PM (#20244195)
    That bus was going at least 75.
  • Heh (Score:3, Funny)

    by David Gould (4938) <david@dgould.org> on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:39PM (#20244215) Homepage
    My favorite part of the article was the fact that the third Google ad at the top was:

    Quantum Physics Secrets - Transform Your Limiting Beliefs Find True Happiness and Purpose
    www.MagicalTransformations.com
    Just sayin'...
  • They actually did that bus jump. It's real. And, no, they didn't edit out any ramps.

    They had to used CGI to edit the landing area shorter, to make it look like it landed closer to the edge than it actually did, because the bus actually jumped farther than it should have. (And they edited out the camera rig it smashed into.)

    How? The gap is not level. Yes, it looks that way on film from certain angles if you're not paying attention, but the starting end was a several yards higher than the back end. Everyone sits there and complains about how a bus cannot do a level jump, and fails to notice that it's not a level jump.

    About the only physics that stunt played fast and lose with was by weighing down the back somewhat so the bus wouldn't rotate forward, and, thus, still be movable after landing.

    • They had to used CGI to edit the landing area shorter, to make it look like it landed closer to the edge than it actually did, because the bus actually jumped farther than it should have. (And they edited out the camera rig it smashed into.)
      Um, there was no gap. The gap was edited in. In all sources I've found, they even talk about the ramp.

      According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], you don't know what you're talking about:

      Notes

      One of the most famous scenes in the film shows the bus jumping across a gap in an elevated freeway-to-freeway ramp while still under construction. Both sides of the gap are at identical heights, making it impossible that the jump would work in real life. According to the "Making of..." feature that accompanied the DVD release, the stunt used a ramp and really did traverse fifty feet in the air. To handle the sudden jolt on landing, the stunt bus had no passengers aboard and the driver was wearing a shock-absorbing harness.

      The gap in the highway was added through CGI; note the flock of digital seagulls added by the special effects company to enhance the realism of the scene. While the flyover ramp is shown to be essentially all complete and paved, except for the gap, in actual construction that gap in the road deck would have been fixed before the guardrail and asphalt is added. You may also note if you look closely, when the bus is flying over the bridge that is under construction the gap between the two bridges was edited in.
      And IMDB.com [imdb.com] seems to agree:

      The bus jump scene was done twice, as the bus landed too smoothly the first time. The bridge was actually there, but erased digitally.
      So you seem to have your facts wrong there. Please cite your source, I would find this interesting as I've always heard the above.

      You should really write the authors of that paper though, I think they'd get a kick out of your comments and they'd love to add you as a data point.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by A1kmm (218902)
      Assuming no air resistance, and treating the bus as a single point (perhaps not the most realistic assumptions, but they are probably a reasonable start):

      The bus travels at 70 mph (v = 31.2928 m/s) with acceleration due to gravity equal to 9.80665 ms^-2. We assume that the other side of the jump is h metres lower than where the bus left off (to start with, lets make h = 0 m). The bus leaves at an angle of theta relative to the plane perpendicular to gravity, i.e. 0 means it leaves of completely flat. For ma
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:52PM (#20244331) Homepage

    I used to do animation tools for physically based animation [animats.com], and got some idea of the Hollywood view of dynamics.

    A basic concept in filmmaking is that the endpoint of a motion is predetermined. Directors think in terms of "here, then here, then there". The path desired is quite likely to be physically unrealistic, and may have to be pieced together from several shots.

    A real physics simulator just isn't "directable" enough. What's used in practice is a combination of hand animation, piecing together motion capture, a collection of clever tricks to make real-world objects go where you want them, and lots of cuts to hide discontinuities. The MTV-style "one cut per second" approach to action scenes makes it even easier.

    Much the same thing happens in games, except that you have to allow a user with limited control to drive a character with too many degrees of freedom and not enough embedded smarts to manage movement against real-world physics. This is why, in most sports games, you see beautiful motion-captured motion interspersed with strange jerks as motions are blended in ways that are continuous but nonphysical.

    In most driving games, the physics is totally unrealistic. The wheel adhesion is huge, the CG is very low (often below the ground) and it's very common to lock roll rate once the vehicle is tilted beyond recovery angle, so that the vehicle rolls all the way over and lands upright. Driving a full sized car through a remote joystick works badly (we tried this with our DARPA Grand Challenge vehicle once, then immediately bought a MoMo steering wheel and interfaced it) and game controller joysticks are even worse. So the vehicle model has to be incredibly forgiving.

    There is a classic of computational Hollywood physics worth noting. In the Bond movie, "The Man with the Golden Gun" (1974), a car is driven over a ruined arch bridge at high speed, executes a 360 degree roll, and lands on the far side. It really did do that. The dynamics were calculated by the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (now CALSPAN) and the ramp was constructed to make it happen consistently if the vehicle was driven at the correct speed. But there's a cheat there, too. The car had a fifth, solid wheel underneath which hit a rail on the launch ramp to initiate the roll. It wasn't possible to induce enough roll rate fast enough through the vehicle suspension.

  • So wait? (Score:5, Funny)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:53PM (#20244347) Journal
    A shotgun can't launch a guy backwards 10 feet through a window?
  • by Mal Reynolds (676267) <Michael_stev80@h ... m ['tma' in gap]> on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:14PM (#20245011)
    There are actually some very positive side effects of Movie Science.

    For instance, both the Columbine killers and the recent London "bombers" had an entirely false belief that propane cooking cylinders would explode like grenades. In reality, the cylinders are purposefully designed to rupture without causing a fragmentary explosion.

    The recent London "bombers" even seemed to believe that any car set alight would produce a large explosion. In truth, cars burn all the time, it is very, very rare for any road vehicle of any sort to explode. In fact, none of the London "bombers" schemes had any real potential of a large explosive effect.

    For this, I think it's fair to say we can thank good old Movie Science. As long as ignorant villians keep believing what they see on TV, we'll be all the safer for it.
  • Two Sides (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Genda (560240) <mariet@got.nERDOSet minus math_god> on Thursday August 16, 2007 @03:05AM (#20246201) Journal

    I guess there two sides to every conversation. When I watch a movie or TV show, I realize I'm supposed to suspend belief... When the bionic man reaches up and pulls an overturned car down to right it... he should catapult his arm into low earth orbit ripping it completely free from the soft meaty shoulder to which it's attached. Obviously this doesn't happen and Newton is ignored with extreme prejudice. When Van Helsing swings down and snatches the heroin up from a multi-story stunt (thanks to our good friend CGI) there is no profound trauma, no dislocated shoulders or broken ribs... only escape from the undead... the undead should be the hint (the only place you find the undead in the real world is D.C.)

    So I think it's only fair to park your "Critical Thinking Brain" at the lobby door when you go to watch a movie... that said, you should remember to pick back up on the way out. For those of you who don't own one, this is why we're having this conversation in the first place... your job is to go out and get one.

    People who can't tell that "Looney Toons" are not an accurate depictions of physics, should probably be forced to wear nurf suits, not be allowed to move faster than a brisk walk, and be prevented from procreation as a protection to the intellectual viability of our posterity. I'm sorry, no lack of legal knowlege will prevent you from falling off a cliff at 32 ft/sec.^2.

    Along those lines, people who participate in projects like "Jack-Ass the Movie", or attempt to defy the fundamental laws of physics, only to become horrible lessons in absolute inevitability of those very laws, should be protected from their own stupidity. In fact we should all be protected from their stupidity. One more fine reason to elect a president and a legislative body with with a collective IQ larger than bowling ball's.

    Of course, then you'll never get a chance to see "Jack-Ass the Nation", but I believe the up side merits the risk.

  • by RexRhino (769423) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @12:17PM (#20250583)
    It isn't the teachers or the schools fault that students aren't learning science... or parents... IT IS HOLLYWOOD'S FAULT!!!!

    Can we sue the movie makers for little johnny failing his physics test? Like those fat kids who sued McDonalds?
  • If roles reversed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slapout (93640) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @12:51PM (#20251085)

    Of course, if movie's were realistic, we'd be seeing headlines like:

    Good Movie Physics Hurt Movie Enjoyment
  • by srobert (4099) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @01:00PM (#20251213)
    This is a lot of hogwash. I'm an engineer. I grew up watching Star Trek. It sparked my interest in science. Many scientists and engineers would tell you they loved Star Trek when they were kids and if it wasn't there, they might not have become what they are. It's good to discuss the inaccuracies in SF because it prompts the imagination to think about how things really work.

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