Adam Weiner has a great post over at PopSci on the scientific innacuracies that plague a lot of mainstream films.
He discusses the wacky physics of the motorcycle fight in Mission Impossible 2, the impossibility of Vin Diesel outrunning an avalanche in XXX on a snowboard, the actual physical strain Batman’s grappling hook would take on him and Vicky Vale and that insane bus jump in Speed.
My favourite though is the oft-repeated sin of sounds in space.
As Adam puts it:
The most frequent sci-fi physics sin is, without a doubt, the incredible sounds emitted by all those zooming spacecraft, all those exploding planets, all those laser beams whizzing by.
As every student learns very early on, sound waves need a medium through which to pass in the form of vibrations to be heard. Air, water, the membrane of your eardrum—all are sufficient media to transmit these vibrations.
And as we all know, the cold vacuum of space is unfortunately devoid of anything substantial enough to serve as a transmissive medium.
It’s true, however, that those unfortunate enough to have their spacecraft destroyed be in a spaceship while it was exploding would certainly hear quite a racket for a few split seconds from inside, as the sound vibrations passed through the ship itself and into what was left of the cockpit’s pressurized atmosphere as it broke up.
But once the damage was done, we’d be back to space’s normal, somber silence. But hey, I guess all those sound designers and THX-equipped theaters need to be used for something, right?
The tagline for Alien says ‘In space no-one can hear you scream’ – well, that’s because they physically can’t.
However, if movies did follow science to the letter, wouldn’t a large chunk of the sc-fi canon just be weird silent movie hybrids?