7 Scientific Failures in (Mostly) Good Movies

7 Scientific Failures

Movies are made for entertainment – it’s as simple as that. But at what point does pushing boundaries for the sake of enjoyment cross the line into unforgivable plot holes?

Movies are riddled with mistakes, sometimes defying the laws of science. We tend to overlook these errors in the name of Hollywood, but then again, some of the inaccuracies are just too distracting to let slide.

Entertaining or not, here are some of the stupidest scientific mistakes seen in films

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Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park DNA

The thought of dinosaurs roaming the earth again is pretty frightening. But fear not: even Jurassic Park is full of scientific mistakes. The most important error that would completely debunk the film is the extraction and recreation of dinosaur DNA.

After that much time has passed, liquid blood holding dinosaur genetics would not be preserved, even within amber. Even if we ignore this, the scientists in the movie then chose to fill in the gaps of the dinosaurs’ DNA strands with that of frogs, which doesn’t make much sense. Plus, the likelihood of that man-made alteration surviving fertilization would be slim to none.

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The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises bomb

Batman is pretty amazing, but even he can’t escape the facts of science. At the end of the film, he carries a fusion bomb out over a body of water just moments before it is set to detonate. Then it happens – the bomb explodes and the nuclear mushroom cloud rises.

Yet, the city of Gotham is fine. Regardless of the fact that Batman got the bomb out of the city, Gotham still would have been seriously impacted… it’s a nuclear bomb, for science’s sake!

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Armageddon

Armageddon

Action-packed movie? Check. Entertaining? Check. Factually correct? Not even close.

Armageddon follows the story of a group of oil drillers who are drafted to save the planet from a huge asteroid hurdling towards Earth. Even if we dismiss the fact their drilling of only 800ft on an “asteroid the size of Texas” wouldn’t be very impactful, there is still another grievous error to reckon with.

Somehow, this huge rock evaded notice until 18 days before it is expected to hit the Earth. This just isn’t possible. An asteroid that large would have been discovered long before the given timeline, which, along with other details, makes the movie wholly unbelievable.

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Titanic

Titanic

When we think of Titanic, we tend to focus on the historical inaccuracies rather than the scientific, but lo and behold, they do exist!

If you think back to when Rose is laying on that hunk of wood, you will remember that she was gazing at the stars. What you don’t recall (probably) is that the stars shown in this scene would not have been visible.

As pointed out by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the star field shown is not accurate for the time and location of the sinking of the famous ship. Director James Cameron did address this issue and corrected it for the film’s 3D release.

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Battleship

Battleship

Battleship was once a simple game played by children, but now it’s also a film in which aliens are somehow involved. Even though this is a typical action movie where viewers don’t have to use a lot of brain power to focus on, there is still a pretty big error.

Contacting another planet in 2005 and getting a response in 2012 just isn’t possible. Simple math would deduce that in order for a response to be viable in that time frame, the said planet would have to be within 4.5 light years from us. In reality, the closest star with an earth-like orbiting planet is more than 10 light years away.

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The Day After Tomorrow

The Day After Tomorrow

There’s more fiction than science in The Day After Tomorrow. Already riddled with inaccuracies concerning the tornado scene and the storm surge in New York, another scientific fact completely debunks the film.

The movie focuses on these huge super-cell storms over the Polar Regions that look like hurricanes, even though they are over land. These storms then create such a huge amount of precipitation that launches the Northern Hemisphere into the beginning of an Ice Age. In that lies the mistake.

The Polar Regions where these storms formed are very dry. The precipitation portrayed in the film just isn’t possible due to the fact that these cold areas where the storms originated would not provide enough moisture. In addition, a storm with that much power would need heat to form and sustain itself, which is again something that is not available in these areas.

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Gravity

Neil deGrasse

Yes, the movie Gravity was wildly successful and an awesome 3D experience, but that doesn’t mean it was void of mistakes. Unfortunately, the film was littered with so many scientific errors that even Neil deGrasse Tyson felt the need to point out film mistakes (again).

First off, Sandra Bullock’s character is a medical doctor, yet she is somehow qualified to service a space telescope. She’d likely be more at home overseeing a rehab clinic. Then, the International Space Station and a Chinese Space Station are seen in the same eye line, when in reality one orbits almost 100 miles farther up than the other.

To top it all off, Bullock is wearing tight fitting athletic wear underneath her space suit. While this looks great on film, this is terribly inaccurate; astronauts actually wear cooling gear that is quite bulky under their suits, in addition to a diaper. But Alfonso Cuarón knows as well as anybody that diapers just aren’t photogenic – even if they’re filmed in 3D.

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Written by contributor Daniel Faris.