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Failed Plots

  1. Oct 17, 2008 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    Does anyone else like to pick apart the plot in books and movies? I do.

    One movie that they have been running almost endlessly on cable is The Hunt for Red October, which is a favorite of mine. But one thing in the plot that really grabbed my attention was the bit about Jonesy, the SONAR man.

    Here we have a first strike weapon - the Soviet submarine Red October - propelled by a magnetohydrodynamic drive, that will almost certainly ignite WWIII because of its stealthy silence. It can't be detected by US subs. So in the interest of world peace, the good Captain Marko Ramius, of the Soviet Union, betrays his nation, throws away his career, and with his secret weapon, defects to the US and saves the world by restoring the balance of power.

    If this sub was such a great threat to world peace, then how is it that during its maiden voyage, a low level US SONAR man is able to not only detect the sub, but also track it?
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2008 #2
    I think he was into cetacean porn.
     
  4. Oct 17, 2008 #3

    Danger

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    Maybe for the same reason that a (Lithuanian?, Romanian?... I forget) sailor had a Scots accent.
     
  5. Oct 17, 2008 #4
    Or how about that new Oliver Stone movie W.... I mean, as if a guy like that could seriously get elected to become the President of the United States!
     
  6. Oct 17, 2008 #5
    Two missiles with nuclear warheads are fired in opposite directions. Superman travels slightly faster than one of the missiles and after much huffing and puffing, finally catches up to it. As a result, he doesn't have enough time to catch the other missile which explodes killing someone close to him. So he travels faster than light to turn back the clock.
     
  7. Oct 17, 2008 #6
    This could theoretically be explained through dramatic effect, that due to his grief over the loss of his loved one he pushed himself harder than ever before. Consider the person who lifts a truck off of their loved one due to adrenaline rush.

    I agree though, it was pretty cheesy.
     
  8. Oct 17, 2008 #7

    russ_watters

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    I don't remember the exact subplot, but in the books Jonesey is a genius who goes to MIT after leaving the navy.

    Relating it to reality: he's black and a junior enlisted man who turns out to be brilliant. It happens. You can't be a submariner without displaying at least some intelligence and many inner-city blacks use the Navy as a way to escape. The navigator on my ship was a skinny little black kid from East St. Louis who because of his size had to find an alternate means of defending himself. He lit people on fire. He was pushed to join the Navy as a way to get out (his school administrators recognized his intelligence, but he had no hope of making it into college on his own). He enlisted, eventually got OCS, the navy paid for college, and now he's on a track for command. And he married a hot lawyer.
     
  9. Oct 17, 2008 #8
    she wasn't a hot lawyer before he met her though?

    Just a word of advice, don't describe the wife of someone who sets people on fire as hot.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2008
  10. Oct 17, 2008 #9

    BobG

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    That kind of reminds me of those two geniuses that graduated from MIT, then became auto mechanics. Then they got their own radio show!! A comedy show where they give out real auto repair advice!! Life is sometimes stranger than fiction.

    Not only does it happen, but it happens more than one would think. I was always amazed by how many enlisted I knew that scored in the top 10% on their ASVAB scores - at least until I thought about it - the higher scores almost always wind up concentrated in a few select career fields and we had about 3 of those career fields in most of the places I worked.
     
  11. Oct 17, 2008 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    If the first guy to encounter this weapon is able to detect and track it, obviously the sub was never a real threat in the first place.

    Verdict: Plot Failed!
     
  12. Oct 17, 2008 #11
    Ivan that should be: FAIL Plot is FAIL
     
  13. Oct 17, 2008 #12

    berkeman

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    Nope, watch it again. It is a plausible scenario. The Red October was using conventional propulsion and being tracked by by the US sub when it cut over to the MHD drive. So the subsequent sounds from that same bearing could be analyzed in detail to look for anything unusual that could then be interpreted as the new drive noise. If they hadn't been tracking it and locked onto its bearing in the first place, then that subsequent analysis would not have been possible.

    Hey, we're talking Clancy here. His plots are tight.
     
  14. Oct 17, 2008 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    What's more, if Superman is such a great guy, then why didn't he ever go back and visit his poor mother?
     
  15. Oct 17, 2008 #14

    Ivan Seeking

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    Cleary the device produced a unique sound. The threat portrayed was that the sub was silent and undetectable. But it wasn't silent, it was just more difficult to detect.

    Given the same challenge, I'm sure that PFers could have deduced a method of detection. :biggrin:
     
  16. Oct 17, 2008 #15
    It did have a bit of a loose end with the silent drive. Since I got accepted in the SECF (Submarine Electronics Computer Field) i've been studying up on submarine sonar and communication systems (at least what's available to the public). The Hunt for Red October is also one of my favorite movies, so I also looked into the reality of a magnetohydrodynamic drive.

    What I found is that the 'silent drive' really isn't all that silent anyway. The situation you have is that the propulsion system requires quite a bit of power to function... which would drain the batteries in a typical diesel sub relatively quickly. That in it's self wouldn't allow for very long stealthy trips before you would have to surface again to turn on the diesel engine and recharge the batteries.

    The next logical step would be to skip a diesel powered sub and have it powered by a nuclear reactor. Well, that in it's self has a drawback as nuclear subs aren't nearly as silent as their diesel counterparts, and large subs such as a Typhoon class sub, are inherently nuclear because of their large size. The nuclear reactors are cooled by pumps which generate a bit of noise, along with the noisy turbine machinery.

    So, what your left with is a propulsion system which is pretty much useless because to be able to power it while also maintaining ultimate stealthiness, you have to have a nuclear reactor which generates greater noise than a diesel-battery setup.
     
  17. Oct 17, 2008 #16
    And then there's this...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetohydrodynamic_drive

    What use would a 'silent drive' be if you could only operate it on the surface?

    Clancy pretty much took a bit of technology that does truly exist, only he left out some of the specifics so that he could make a good story.
     
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