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TV shows, movies, and books that are ruined for you by physics

  1. Apr 22, 2017 #1
    What were some of your favorites tv shows, movies, and books what we all loved as a child that got ruined as an adult by learning physics??
    Some of my favorites were Stargate, Star Trek the Next Gen, and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
    But all throws dreams were killed off by physics as I got older.
    I would love to hear about some of yours.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2017 #2
    I'd say that shows and movies with space-ships that have internal gravity are a disappointment, such as Star Trek, Star Wars, etc. I just don't believe that magic gravity floors are possible, yet it seems like a ubiquitous technology in the sci-fi genre.
  4. Apr 23, 2017 #3
    Providing that the "science" is consistent I willingly suspend disbelief, when someone suddenly invents "impossibilium" I get annoyed.
  5. Apr 23, 2017 #4


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    Shows like star trek/stargate were never ruined for me by learning some science. I'm kind of surprised it's true for anyone given that these shows were explicitly set in worlds with different rules. Vastly more non-science fiction/fantasy show have become difficult for me to watch because of the sheer number of mistakes they rely on to work. The whole "zoom and enhance" nonsense that fills crime/spy shows for instance.
  6. Apr 23, 2017 #5


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    Actually I can't think of any at the moment... I guess I put off my science hat when I watch movies. After all, they are fiction and entertainment. I am more concerned with books and movies that don't flow fell, i.e. bad story/characters/acting than how scientifically accurate they are. But I will really try to think hard to see if I could come up with an example that fits what you are asking for...

    EDIT: By the way,
    surprise me a bit as an example, since I consider it a comedy. And a very fun one too, in my opinion.
  7. Apr 23, 2017 #6
    Don't get me wrong, I love the creativeness of the storeys and can laff along with the jokes. Sometimes I get annoyed when my teenager asks me if you can really do the things in shows like Macgyver does (old and new). Or when false science is holding up the story line like Angels and Demons with the hole making anuf antimatter to see after one clischen in an lhc like ring and then have it glow, really???
  8. Apr 24, 2017 #7
    Expanse pretends to be very hard, but stealth in space is far from its biggest error...
  9. Apr 28, 2017 #8
    I like the Expanse, but there are some errors I agree.....honestly(speaking sci-fi-tifically) the hole stealth thing is pretty hard unless your able to mask EVERY particle escaping from your vessel....

    .......But my favorite exploitation of physics in Hollywood to ***** about is probably gravity. Mostly because antigravity(or artificial gravity) in most situations is basically not as they portray it, they miss crucial elements and in some instances just don't care about physics.
  10. Apr 28, 2017 #9


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    Not only is that impossible it would result in your vessel heating up incredibly quickly, especially given that the Expanse vessels run on fusion reactors. Strangely the book didn't include any of that, there were ships with better stealth but it didn't hide them so much as obscure their IR profile so they were harder to identify.
  11. Apr 28, 2017 #10
    Yes!!! exactly my point Staff:Mentor Ryan_m_b! thats why i added the "......" lol, so many things they forgot to have account for , which they "forgot" to mention in the book.lol
  12. Apr 28, 2017 #11
    Star Wars is definitely my favorite sci-fi saga.

    "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
    Maybe physics was different back then and in that place???

    Just kidding. But in all seriousness, if anything would "ruin" Star Wars for me, it's definitely watching Hayden Christensen's attempt at acting :headbang:
  13. Apr 28, 2017 #12
    I was never a fan of any of the superhero stuff, but one of the very few things in the genre I ever enjoyed was the scene where Superman catches Lois Lane. Sheldon Cooper ruined that:

    I'm assuming the same logic applies to Neo catching Trinity in the Matrix Reloaded
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  14. Apr 29, 2017 #13
    Rotational gravity were definitally harder, but more troublesome for the studio.
  15. Apr 29, 2017 #14
    Somebody on Isaac Arthur's science channel wrote me :

    "I agree that no matter what clever tricks are done with the radiator design of a rocket (or lack therof), it will eventually heat up and emit, at the very least, black body radiation in all directions which would make it detectable also in any direction.

    I am saying that the main problem for stealth in spacecraft is the emission of waste heat is omni-directional and that the heat spreads to everywhere in the craft. But it doesn't have to be that way. Very recent research shows that by periodically doping substances like graphene, heat flow, via phonon transport, is forced to follow particular paths in the material. It is a particularly hot topic for CPU research (no pun intended, lol). This means that in theory at least, waste heat flow can be preferentially directed to a collimating radiator if the material through which is flows is carefully controlled.

    Picture a parabolic shaped radiator surrounded by this heat flow controlling material, except at the diameter of the collimated output. And all the controlled heat flow channels directed at the radiator's collector."

    Theoretically a ship can be much more stealthy if it could effectively control heat emission to a narrow cone.
    Anyway i think disappear so easily when they even knew where to search Rocinante is far from Expanse bigger error, i think world building also seriously flawed (they had magitech rockets, but couldnt even produce centrifugal gravity for people that went to belt) the idiocracy of the third book ruined it completely for me.
  16. Apr 29, 2017 #15
    Does that mean it's possible to make an insulating layer with zero thermal conductivity? That would be pretty important news. In particular, we wouldn't need high-temp superconductors any more.

    Anyway, you don't need exotic materials, every fridge transfers heat from one place to another. If the ship has an internal heat reservoir, it can cool its surface to 3 Kelvins for as long as needed. Opening a hole in the surface, exposing the reservoir to open space, creates directed heat emission.
  17. Apr 29, 2017 #16
    I dont think it has zero conductivity just very efficient. The bottleneck of stealth in space IMHO the thrusters and speed needed to arrive in reasonable time, they can direct a huge telescope to every possible place where a ship could start.
  18. Apr 29, 2017 #17
    I just thought of another one from Disney it was a fun family movie franchise/ turned theme park that we all grew up with called, "Honey I shrunk the kids." In the late 80-90 the movies hole story line (3 movies in all) was based on an inventer that made a machine that would shrink the space between the nucleus of an atom and the surrounding electrons. Thair for making whatever the machine was aimed at smaller or bigger. Unfortunately the pore physics in the movies was that on this bases any thing that got bigger or smaller would adjust the weight for the size. When in the real world if we had a machine that could do such a thing the weight would not change. Making it quite problematic for a 100-150 pound kid and or adult to put all their weight in a space no bigger than a millimeter or smaller.
  19. Apr 30, 2017 #18
    ok guys, I'm sorry for my bad taste in humor toward God for anyone that has a steadfast belief. I would like to keep this thread refined to main stream media and entertainment excluding any religious or spiritual beliefs please. I do not wish to offend anyone and I do so wish that no one else would either.:wink:
  20. Apr 30, 2017 #19


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    Thank you.
  21. May 30, 2017 #20
    You'd also have to find similarly shrunken O2 molecules to continue breathing. :P

    Here's one. Tron: Legacy. Loved the movie, but that invading force they just had to stop would have required an enormous amount of energy to create physical bodies. Plus there's no reason for their weapons and machines to continue to function in the physical world.
  22. Jun 18, 2017 #21

    Buzz Bloom

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    It does not bother me at all if the science in a SciFi movie, TV series, or book violates physical laws, unless in the particular story (1) the physics dominates the plot, and (2) there is too much impossible stuff.

    Some examples:
    (1) The impossible FTL travel is essential for almost any space opera, eg, Star Trek, Star Wars. My favorite is Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home (1984) (also a great time travel story). On the other hand, I did not particularly like Star Trek Generations (1994) due to the added dominating non-physics of the "strange energy ribbon".
    (2) Time travel backwards in time is physically impossible. However, I have enjoyed "great" time travel stories since the "Golden Age" 1950's (age 15) - By His Bootstraps by Heinlein - 1941. My new favorite has become The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (2003) - movie version (which I liked better than the book) (2009).
    (3) Living in a simulated virtual reality is as far as I know does not currently contradict any physical laws, but for the present I believe it is likely to be impossible. My favorite is The 13th Floor (1999). Another excellent example, although the virtual reality is based on a different premise, is Source Code (2011). For me The Matrix (1999-2003) film series is marginally OK but seriously flawed because the basic plot premise about aliens needing human bodies as an energy source makes absolutely no sense.
  23. Jun 19, 2017 #22
    Buzz, I do not believe that the matrix was not about aliens, but machines that we built. That took over the world and decided to use the humans at power. Yes, there were a lot of flaws with the story line but all parties involved were terrestrial in nature. Like a far flung future of the terminator storyline.
  24. Jun 19, 2017 #23
    A guy had the idea, that they used humans as coprocessors, it would have made more sense.
    (We could see them copy and mimic human behavior, like have wife and kid)
  25. Jun 19, 2017 #24


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    I've heard, but can't find a source for, that the Wachowski Siblings originally wrote that the humans were being used as processors but that the studio worried people wouldn't get it. So they had to rewrite it to something "simpler".
  26. Jun 19, 2017 #25
    My biggest issue with The Matrix was why use human beings? The entire premise of the franchise is that human will and consciousness cannot be perfectly controlled by machines; sentience has some intangible element that can't be quantified/encoded so the matrix itself eventually crashes due to this anomalous free will, so they always have to reboot it or lose their energy supply, hence the function of "the one". So my question is why not just use electric eels? Your powerplants will be much smaller and you don't have the whole sentience problem to worry about. Just wipe out the humans, breed some eels, and be done with it. I think the above stated point about using them as processors fails due to the fact that throughout the series the "agents" always state things like "he's only human"; i.e. inferior to their AI. So why would they try to use humans as superior processors? Not to mention they were born from humans underestimating their sentience; seems like they wouldn't make the mistake by allowing sentient humans to exist.
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