movie physics

A Tear in Earth's Magnetic Field?

The Breakdown takes on The Core

From the US PopSci team

In keeping with our movie physics theme of the past few weeks, it seems appropriate to take a look at the trailer from the action "science" disaster film The Core. As with Armageddon and its deadly asteroid, The Core starts with an interesting premise -- the possible disappearance of the Earth's magnetic field.

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The Physics of Artificial Gravity, Part Two

In 2001, spin done right

Heeding a suggestion from one of our readers, let's follow up on our discussion of artificial gravity. As we described last week, although the film Armageddon attempts to portray artificial gravity aboard a rotating space station, it does not take into account the fact that unless the radius of the station is very large compared to the height of a person, anyone on board will feel significantly different forces acting along the length of their bodies. The result: nausea, vomiting, dizziness, disorientation, and nothing similar to the sense of gravity as we experience it on Earth.

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Artificial Gravity: Fact and Fiction

The spin on spin

There are certain movies that wreak such havoc with the laws of the universe as we know them that, despite the risk of irate readers who only want to enjoy the fantasy, and despite the fact that they may not care about accurate science (after all "we all know it's just a movie), we have to deconstruct them anyway as a public service. Now Armageddon (along with The Core and The Day After Tomorrow) forms part of a "trifecta" of bad movie physics, and, although it's not a new release, it epitomizes its genre.

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More Science of Star Trek: Phaser Edition

The puzzling technology of high-tech weapons

As a followup to last week’s discussion of the new Star Trek movie trailer, let’s spend a few more minutes on this most appealing of themes. Now remember we have nothing but affection for the phenomenon of Star Trek, and the creators of the various series, movies etc. sometimes really give it a shot with trying to connect the technology to ideas in the forefront of modern physics. Where would we be without anti-matter reactors, the warp drive, and inertial dampers, to name a few?

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The Science of Star Trek

Or, young Kirk's magic fingers

As a long-time aficionado of the original Star Trek series, it's always exciting for me when I hear that Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock are going to make a reappearance on the big screen. Although it'll be a bit strange without William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy running the show, what recourse is there? We've got the next generation playing the previous one.

Anyway, in the trailer we get a glimpse of the juvenile origins of the future Captain Kirk's daredevil thrill-seeking persona, not to mention his incredible physical prowess. In the scene in question we see young James T. leap out of his classic convertible sports coupe moments before it projects itself off of a several-thousand-foot precipice. James saves himself by gripping the sandy ground and pulling himself to a stop just as he reaches the edge of the cliff.

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The Real Center of the Earth

Just how realistic is Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3-D?

Hollywood, in its infinite desire to generate easy profits, has decided to do yet another remake of the Jules Verne classic Journey to the Center of the Earth -- this time in 3-D!. As we can see from the trailer, this movie is going to be a special effects extravaganza. Now, while we all know that the entire idea of traveling to the center of the Earth is pure fantasy, and any "science" represented in the movie is not to be taken seriously, we have so much scientific information about the state of the Earth's interior -- much more than Jules Verne ever could know -- that somehow the premise just falls flat.

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The Science of Sci-Fi

Our resident film physicist tackles the final frontier and finds some key pointers for our own space travels

In the world of cinematic science fiction one of the most appealing themes involves a universe brimming over with intelligent life. In this imagined future (or past) humans interact with alien friend and foe because they've at last hammered down the ability to travel to distant stars and galaxies, and, yes, "to boldly go where no man has gone before. Having grown up on the original Star Trek series, observed the effect of the Star Wars movies on the zeitgeist of movie-going generations and enjoyed sci-fi soap operas like Battlestar Galactica, I have to admit I wish we could make it happen; no matter the odds.

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The Science of Superheroes

Our resident Hollywood physicist examines how even the most righteous crime fighters still manage to break the most important laws of all

Spiderman, Batman, the Fantastic Four, Ironman—seems like every time we go to the movies, there's some guy in a unitard saving the world with acts of unnatural physics. We realize that these are works of fantasy, so we don't get too upset when the science portrayed in them comes from some alternative universe.

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