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Dr Nigel
2006-Apr-15, 05:15 PM
I've just started reading this Dan Brown novel, and the bad science is getting me down. I'm going to rant about it here and see if that helps.

There's this meteorite, described as "an amorphous blob .... with a diameter of 10 feet", which is stated as weighing "more than eight tons". It was spotted because its density is unusually high (well, I didn't want to go near how they remotely sense density...).

I did the math. If it is even close to spherical (as implied by the use of the word "diameter"), it's volume is approximately 14 cubic metres. So if it is water, it will weigh around 14 tonnes (which is pretty close to 14 tons and definitely more than 8 tons). If its density is unusually high, it should weigh at least 25 tons. So the statement that it weighs more than 8 tons allows for the possibility that it is significantly less dense than water. Aaaaaargh!

One of the "scientists" in the novel then goes on to explain how the meteorite was heated as it eneterd Earth's atmosphere ... by friction. Aaaaargh! again. (the heating during atmospheric entry is caused by compression of air, not by friction - well, maybe 1% of it is by friction) :naughty:

Warning : Spoiler alert!

There was a discussion of the possibility of extraterrestrial life, during which it was stated that it was "well known" that the likeliest form this would take is arthropod (insects, millipedes, spiders, scorpions etc.). He went on to say that insects account for 95% of species on Earth, and 40% of the biomass. Aaaargh! three times over. Maybe that's true of the animal kingdom, but, hey, what about plants, fungi, bacteria, cyanobacteria, archaea and protista? :doh:

The novel was written in 2001, so there is no excuse for being unaware that bacterial life (or some similar single-celled life form) is expected to be the most likely form extra-terrestrial life might take. Anyone else remember that meteorite that caused a bit of a hoo-hah back in '96? :wall:

There is a bit more bad science, but this is almost excusable by comparison. He discusses the hardiness of arthropod life forms, but fails to mention extremophiles. There are unicellular organisms that thrive in conditions that would dissolve and / or fry pretty much any arthropod. The only arthropods of which I am aware that come close are tardigrades (or water bears). But he doesn't mention these either.

Right, that's my rant finished with. Does anyone else get annoyed by bad science in novels?

Moose
2006-Apr-15, 06:23 PM
Right, that's my rant finished with. Does anyone else get annoyed by bad science in novels?

Yes. A few months ago, I'd read a novel called "Whiteout". I forget the author's name. (Or maybe I don't care, that might be it. *chuckle*)

Anyway, the author goes on and on about how this nasty blizzard in scotland is making the roads entirely unpassable, even mentionning police SUVs that have been rolled, and that the protagonist requires a snowplow to go save the day.

She then mentions it's about a foot of accumulation. :doh: Uh, a lousy foot of accumulation is a mild snowfall where I'm from. It doesn't cause total whiteout conditions (on its own). It doesn't do anything at all to competantly driven large SUVs, and even most cars can cope with a lousy foot of snow if you know what you're doing and have the right tires.

Meh.

There was another forgettable one I'd read immediately prior, that threw up strawman after strawman vs the global warming argument, portraying all environmentallists as hopelessly mis/uninformed, lying and/or insane terrorists. To its credit, it showed references, but as the author allowed for no opposing POV that wasn't self-serving and strawmannish, and that I'm not competent to argue the opposing POV, I simply couldn't accept his argument at face value under those terms.

But what got me is that he sent folks to antarctica to prevent the insane terrorists from detonating a series of large bombs to cause an iceshelf to crack prematurely. Their vehicle was intentionally sent down a "shortcut" that caused the vehicle to tumble into a crevasse. They continued on foot, but the "-35 degree temp" would cause them to have hypothermia and lethal frostbite in fifteen minutes. Eek, eek, woe. (Where's a tauntaun and a lightsaber when you need one!)

Uh, now the author didn't specify if that -35 was fahrenheit or celcius, but that "fifteen-minutes" thing is only for exposed skin or wet non-woolens. If you're wearing good winter stuff (which they were), -35 and windchill isn't all that big of a deal. We get that temp (-35F) a few times a winter here in Northern NB. We close the schools 'cause too many kids wouldn't bundle up sufficiently well, and it does make for a nice excuse to stay in bed, but otherwise, it's life as usual for us.

Dr Nigel
2006-Apr-15, 08:43 PM
Ooh, yes. I'll try to avoid that one. Mind you, for the UK, a foot of snowfall is quite a lot, especially considering these factoids:
(a) We don't use snow-chains in the UK
(b) Most people with 4x4s (some SUVs are specifically non-off-road vehicles) drive them as if they were a normal car and have never actually exploited the 4WD and high ground clearance (90+% of them are used for nothing more than shopping or driving the kids the 0.5-1.5 miles to school)
(c) At a rough guess, 99% of drivers in the UK do not use winter tyres
(d) At a rough guess, 99% of drivers in the UK do not change the way they drive when it is snowy (I once had the scary situation of experiencing my rear wheels spinning going up a hill with a Transit van no more than 1 car-length behind me, and even the twitching of the back end of my car did not make him back off ; this was at about 35-40 mph because it was a main road)
(e) In the SE of England, it takes only 1 inch of snow to cause chaos on the roads.
So it is not quite so implausible as it sounds.

And I've been out camping in temps as low as -20 C but was comfortable-ish because I had the right gear. -35F and -35C are not far apart anyway (I think the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales cross one another at -40), but it's not so desperately cold if you have the right equipment.

Dr Nigel
2006-Apr-15, 09:17 PM
My God!!!

Only a few more pages read, and there's more bad science!

He's now going on about the reason why arthropods grow to only a limited size. He says it is due to Earth's gravity - above a certain size, an exoskeleton cannot support the creature's weight.

And yet we have fossil dragonflies 2 feet long!

The reason arthropods grow to only a limited size is the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere. Arthropods have neither lungs nor gills, but a system of tubes through which to exchange CO2 for oxygen (this is why, for example, wasps flex their abdomen continually after alighting on your picnic). This system is not very efficient, so the creatures can only become large if the air contains a high enough concentration of oxygen to supply their needs.

MG1962A
2006-Apr-16, 12:24 AM
I got halfway through Deception Point.....Just after the iceberg scene. Ya want top shelf bad science, go read Mathew Riley lol. He is in a class of his own

SkepticJ
2006-Apr-16, 02:23 AM
My God!!!

Only a few more pages read, and there's more bad science!

He's now going on about the reason why arthropods grow to only a limited size. He says it is due to Earth's gravity - above a certain size, an exoskeleton cannot support the creature's weight.

And yet we have fossil dragonflies 2 feet long!

The reason arthropods grow to only a limited size is the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere. Arthropods have neither lungs nor gills, but a system of tubes through which to exchange CO2 for oxygen (this is why, for example, wasps flex their abdomen continually after alighting on your picnic). This system is not very efficient, so the creatures can only become large if the air contains a high enough concentration of oxygen to supply their needs.

Both the reasons are right, actually. Arthropods two meters tall, even if they had lungs as good as an avian has, are impossible(on land, crabs larger than this live in the ocean even now). It has to do with how their exoskelton has to get thicker and thicker as they're scaled up, otherwise it'd break. But muscle mass can't keep up, since it's confined *inside* the skeleton. So eventually the point comes when they're too heavy to walk. There's two hypothetical ways to get around this problem, have stronger muscles or a thinner, lighter exoskeleton than chitin can make. Neither has evolved though. Maybe such will on another world, such as using rigid composites made of silk or carbon fiber(maybe even nanotubes). Stronger muscles, without using stuff that would likely have to be designed, I don't know how to do.

Dr Nigel
2006-Apr-16, 07:00 PM
SkepticJ, I like the signature.

Yes, she knows it's a multipass!

The key thing about huge insects is that we know they existed on Earth in the past but do not exist today. There is no evidence for the Earth's gravity having been different, but there is evidence for atmospheric oxygen concentrations having been different (higher) at the time.

ryanmercer
2006-Apr-17, 12:08 PM
Man this book is awful toward the end. Take a James Bond movie... and turn up the unrealistic events x100.

ryanmercer
2006-Apr-17, 12:10 PM
I got halfway through Deception Point.....Just after the iceberg scene. Ya want top shelf bad science, go read Mathew Riley lol. He is in a class of his own

Not only is it bad science, wait untill the action scene at the end... it's like James Bond meets Ethan Hawke meets The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Superman meets Batman meets God.

mike alexander
2006-Apr-18, 12:03 AM
How anybody can actually READ Mr. Brown is beyond me. As a writer he makes Edgar Rice Burroughs look good... and Burroughs was a crackerjack storyteller, to boot.

I tried reading Angels and Demons; the stuff in the introduction about producing macroscopic quantities of antimatter at CERN gave me early MEGO. I skipped to the end and, if I figured it out correctly (didn't try hard) there was antimatter in a guy's cicarette lighter or something that went off on top of St. Peter's (?) in a directed explosion(?) that was then captured by God (?) in a way that let the light out but none of the hard radiation(?).

Please don't tell me that I got anything wrong here. I really don't care. Except for figuring out how badly written crud like this gets purchased by the millions.

Damburger
2006-Apr-18, 12:35 AM
How anybody can actually READ Mr. Brown is beyond me. As a writer he makes Edgar Rice Burroughs look good... and Burroughs was a crackerjack storyteller, to boot.

I tried reading Angels and Demons; the stuff in the introduction about producing macroscopic quantities of antimatter at CERN gave me early MEGO. I skipped to the end and, if I figured it out correctly (didn't try hard) there was antimatter in a guy's cicarette lighter or something that went off on top of St. Peter's (?) in a directed explosion(?) that was then captured by God (?) in a way that let the light out but none of the hard radiation(?).

Please don't tell me that I got anything wrong here. I really don't care. Except for figuring out how badly written crud like this gets purchased by the millions.

You did get it wrong.

Sad thing is, your misconception would've make a better story than the crap dan brown wrote, and the science is about as believable.

SkepticJ
2006-Apr-18, 05:30 AM
The key thing about huge insects is that we know they existed on Earth in the past but do not exist today. There is no evidence for the Earth's gravity having been different, but there is evidence for atmospheric oxygen concentrations having been different (higher) at the time.

Yes, I know. There was a centipede-like animal about two meters long, and a pseudoscorpion-like thing about a meter long, and so on. They weren't however very tall. I've not read the book you're being critical of, but I'm likely agreeing with you, you just don't know it.

rockmysoul67
2006-Apr-18, 08:19 AM
"Whiteout" must be the book by "Ken Follett".

So far my memory goes, it snowed all the evening and night. The people in the car got stucked after midnight, three in the morning or so. They were driving a car, which was fine for a summerday, but the wrong one for winter. And they wanted to get a much better car, not a snow plow.

By reading the book I had a good image of "lots of snow and darkness and countryscape". The word foot might have been a metric language problem.

Moose
2006-Apr-18, 10:45 AM
"Whiteout" must be the book by "Ken Follett".

You're probably right. That name sounds familiar.

So far my memory goes, it snowed all the evening and night. The people in the car got stucked after midnight, three in the morning or so. They were driving a car, which was fine for a summerday, but the wrong one for winter. And they wanted to get a much better car, not a snow plow.

Nah, the security chief wanted the cops to send a plow so they could follow along in the reporter's car.

By reading the book I had a good image of "lots of snow and darkness and countryscape". The word foot might have been a metric language problem.

Not really, he mentions specific accumulation a couple of times. Once, IIRC, on the same page as he mentions the police SUV rollover.

While I was reading that, I was remembering the times I tagged along with my father when he'd drive up Squaw Cap (a local mountain that bears a cell phone tower at the summit) in a phone company Chevy Suburban, loaded with equipment, up a narrow, twisting, and very steep never plowed road, through two-foot accumulation.

But then, I have this problem with most books that mention winter. I'd love to get these authors up my way for a winter or two, (or better yet, in Newfoundland), to get some familiarity with what cars are really capable of.

rockmysoul67
2006-Apr-18, 02:39 PM
Nah, the security chief wanted the cops to send a plow so they could follow along in the reporter's car.

I'm sorry, I thought you meant the robbers which got very stuck and left the car to steal a better car. I can't remember that the security chief got stuck too (I love Follett but this book didn't make a big impression on me) but it makes sense that more cars had problems that night.

I liked the scene in which the inside man explaines the main robber all the security steps they usually have to make before taking a sample from the lab - and then have to leave steps out because of time reasons. I thought: Wow, finally a good detail from a science lab in a book.

Btw. Follett is known for his thorough research - but that's probably more in history then in science. For my feeling the rocket science in "Code to Zero" was good, the special 'Clipper'-plane in "Night over Water" (fantastic book btw.) sounded technical very exact. But the cloning science in "the Third Twin" was almost non-existent, the 'earthquake-machine' in "the Hammer of Eden" was probably a fantasy but the science sounded explainable (and the story is great).

Gillianren
2006-Apr-18, 07:54 PM
The only Follett I've read is Pillars of the Earth, wherein the science doesn't hugely matter on account of the book's set in the Twelfth Century.

Oh, and if you think Dan Brown's science is bad, I assure you his history is worse.

But in one of my favorite sci-fi books, Rinn's Star, they're mining on some alien planet, and they're talking about all the exciting minerals forming on this planet. Now, as we know, I'm not exactly a science guru, but I do work with a jeweler half a dozen or more weekends a year, and there's one bit that gets me--and bodily throws me out of the otherwise well-developed world--every single time.

The author informs us quite calmly that, on Earth, all tourmaline is grey or brown, even gem-quality stuff. Which is total crap--has the woman not heard of watermelon tourmaline, so called because it's pink and green?

mid
2006-Apr-19, 11:02 AM
Oh dear Lord, Angels & Demons is bad in so many ways I lost count after the first 30 pages or so. Da Vinci Code was rattlingly good fun in a dumb action movie kind of way despite all that, so I perservered to the end, but Angels & Demons didn't manage to even succeed on that level.

ToSeek
2006-Apr-19, 02:51 PM
I read The Da Vinci Code over the weekend and enjoyed it, but I can't say I understand why it's a bestseller unless everything else is a whole lot worse.

Dr Nigel
2006-Apr-19, 09:21 PM
Apparently, ToSeek, publishers cheat when they draw up the bestseller lists. Most entries are based on sales, but from time to time, the publishers will slip a newly-released book onto the bestseller list. Never high up (maybe around 7th or 8th). It's a marketing ploy - people look at the bestseller list and think, well, there must be something to it, so they go and buy the book.

Dr Nigel
2006-Apr-19, 09:26 PM
I tried reading Angels and Demons; the stuff in the introduction about producing macroscopic quantities of antimatter at CERN gave me early MEGO.

Mike, I had actually forgotten the Bad Science in Angels and Demons. What I chiefly remembered from that was the chasing around Rome and the anaglyphs (if that is the right word - I'm sure 10010110 will correct me if I'm wrong).

I read a review in New Scientist (I think) that said that if they could create milligrams or grams of antimatter, they would have to use the entire annual energy budget of the world about 80 times over (or something along those lines) to do so. Might as well just buy up all of Russia's army-surplus nukes, huh? It'd be orders of magnitude cheaper.

Dr Nigel
2006-Apr-19, 09:31 PM
I got halfway through Deception Point.....Just after the iceberg scene. Ya want top shelf bad science, go read Mathew Riley lol. He is in a class of his own

I have actually given up on Deception Point. On page 133 out of 540-something.

mike alexander
2006-Apr-20, 12:10 AM
from Dr. Nigel:

I read a review in New Scientist (I think) that said that if they could create milligrams or grams of antimatter, they would have to use the entire annual energy budget of the world about 80 times over (or something along those lines) to do so.

One milligram of antihydrogen contains about 10^21 protons. Yearly total production of antiprotons is, what? about 10^11 or 10^12? Assuming you could catch and keep them all indefinitely.

And keeping the material safely confined is no mean trick, either.

worzel
2006-Apr-20, 12:36 AM
I've read Angels and Demons, The Davinci Code, Deception Point, and The Digital Fortress and I enjoyed them all. Maybe my ability to suspend disbelief is greater than some here - and there may be a simple explanation for that :)

Dr Nigel
2006-Apr-20, 09:04 PM
The funny thing is, Worzel, that I did enjoy the ones I could get into. But when the Bad Science got under my skin first, it was a different story.

Please excuse that pun. It was not wholly intentional.

Fram
2006-May-03, 12:44 PM
I've read the same 4 as Worzel, and had a quite mixed bag of emotions. They are easy, fast reads, which is (sometimes) enjoyable. But then they have completely ridiculous parts, scientifically and historically, and the plots have some huge holes as well. Angels and Demons is probably the worst of the bunch, with a truly dreadful ending. The Da Vinci Code is in my eyes the best of his books, but it is beyond me why it is such an incredible bestseller, and not just a good selling but otherwise unremarkable book, like many other pageturners.

I have read one Matthew Reilly book, Temple, and thought it quite enjoyable when you accept his aim, to write a "turn of your mind and enjoy the action" book (paraphrased). It is indeed full of bad science (biology, history and archaeology mainly, and some others), and his rendition of the writing style of a sixteenth century monk is, well, extremely modern, but it is not worse and for me more enjoyable than a Dan Brown novel.
Similar things (very bad science in bestsellers) can be seen in e.g. a lot of Clive Cussler novels.
I think most of the time (but I haven't read all his works), Ken Follett is of a different, more correct level, and his books are thus (for me) better than the truly mindless pageturners.

Moose
2006-May-03, 01:33 PM
There was another forgettable one I'd read immediately prior, that threw up strawman after strawman vs the global warming argument, portraying all environmentallists as hopelessly mis/uninformed, lying and/or insane terrorists. To its credit, it showed references, but as the author allowed for no opposing POV that wasn't self-serving and strawmannish, and that I'm not competent to argue the opposing POV, I simply couldn't accept his argument at face value under those terms.

Just remembered: it was Michael Crighton's State of Fear.

Dr Nigel
2006-May-07, 09:29 AM
Fram, what really bugged me about Dan Brown in particular (as opposed to other authors that have used bad science) was that he goes into a lot of detail and makes it sound authoritative. So, for a reader who doesn't know any better, some stories don't fill their heads with wrong ideas about science, but Dan Brown's do.

So, if he couldn't be bothered to do his research or to do his maths, he could have glossed over the details. But, no, he insists on inventing details which are otherwise readily available, if he could be bothered to actually do the research that he seems to pretend to have done.

Gillianren
2006-May-07, 06:38 PM
He does the same thing with history, which annoys the bejeezus out of me. I haven't actually read any of his books, I'll admit, but I do know that the people at Oxford wish he'd never said what a huge department of Grail Studies or whatever it is that they have. They don't. They have a shelf and a recommended reading list. (I suspect The DaVinci Code isn't on it.)

Fram
2006-May-08, 11:54 AM
Fram, what really bugged me about Dan Brown in particular (as opposed to other authors that have used bad science) was that he goes into a lot of detail and makes it sound authoritative. So, for a reader who doesn't know any better, some stories don't fill their heads with wrong ideas about science, but Dan Brown's do.

So, if he couldn't be bothered to do his research or to do his maths, he could have glossed over the details. But, no, he insists on inventing details which are otherwise readily available, if he could be bothered to actually do the research that he seems to pretend to have done.

Indeed, that is hugely annoying.
Other annoying thing: mysterious riddles that are laughingly easy (some of them at least, like the Newton one) and which make the protagonists (and the author) look stupid by not finding the solution, instead of smart (which is the intention).

mid
2006-May-08, 02:07 PM
That isn't really the intention, though. It's not about making the characters look smart, but making the reader feel smart because they figured it out first.

At least, that's the impression I got.

Dr Nigel
2006-May-10, 07:19 PM
He does the same thing with history, which annoys the bejeezus out of me. I haven't actually read any of his books, I'll admit, but I do know that the people at Oxford wish he'd never said what a huge department of Grail Studies or whatever it is that they have. They don't. They have a shelf and a recommended reading list. (I suspect The DaVinci Code isn't on it.)

My knowledge of history is a bit patchy, but I'm more prepared to believe you than him.

In fact, given some of your previous posts in the forum, I'm prepared to accept what you say about him without any further corroboration. Whereas I shall now view his take on history with as much scepticism as I view his take on science...

Gillianren
2006-May-10, 08:58 PM
My knowledge of history is a bit patchy, but I'm more prepared to believe you than him.

In fact, given some of your previous posts in the forum, I'm prepared to accept what you say about him without any further corroboration. Whereas I shall now view his take on history with as much scepticism as I view his take on science...

[blush]

Well, thank you! Likewise, I'm more inclined to trust the thoughtful program with Tony Robinson hosting than I am to trust Dan Brown.

teddyv
2006-May-10, 09:18 PM
I read Davinci Code about a month ago. It was a fun read and I got through it in 2 days.

As to why it sold so many copies is likely related to the controversy it inherently brings up with respect Christian history and beliefs. Controversy sells.

Its pretty much a classic conspiracy theory wherein the main characters have been graced with "the truth" and are trying to thwart the powers that be (in this case the Roman Catholic Church).

publiusr
2006-May-19, 07:31 PM
I think Eco's novel FOCAULT'S PENDULUM is far better--the first few paragraphs are superb, as is the brief blurb about how a vanity press is run.

Quite funny.

Name of the Rose didn't do well, and his novels don't exactly lend themselves to movie adaptation. I'd like to see some short stories from Borges done for Sci-fi or in an Anime. The Book of Sand and The Library of Babel come to mind.

Much better than anything Dan Brown will ever do. For controversy, nothing beats "Three Versions Of Judas"

zebo-the-fat
2006-May-19, 11:15 PM
I read Angels & Demons, the thing that I found hardest to understand was this - they managed to make a reasonable amount of antimatter, this was stored in a (I think magnetic) container which needed power to keep the stuff from going bang. The whole plot rests on the fact that the container is removed from it's power source and is running on batteries, when they run out ....BANG!
Firstly why design a container than needs a special power source, why not plain 12 volt, or mains supply? (Stupid design for such a dangerous device!)
Second, the container has a counter showing how many seconds until the battery runs out and the thing explodes, what sort of battery is it than you can say to the second when it will run out?

HenrikOlsen
2006-May-20, 01:58 AM
A movie battery.

hhEb09'1
2006-May-20, 12:42 PM
No, a novel battery

Dr Nigel
2006-May-20, 01:02 PM
When I read it, I considered the whole battery-powered antimatter-containment thing to be simply a plot device.

darkhunter
2006-May-20, 04:12 PM
[off topic but speaking of batteries]

In Stephen King's the Tommyknockers--only towards the end did the one "immune" character realize that the Tommyknocker-stage humans could have built all their cool stuff and used the mains instead of batteries....

[/off topic but speaking of batteries]

Frying Tiger
2006-May-22, 12:36 PM
Hoo, man, "Angels and Demons" was my first Dan Brown experience, and boy did I goggle in disbelief.

(spoiler, sort of)

They have a remote camera somewhere underneath the Vatican, transmitting a picture of a bomb. And NOBODY THINKS TO TRIANGULATE ON THE CAMERA'S SIGNAL or even get a frikkin' RF meter and walk around!! AAAGGGRRRRRGGGHGHGH!!

I pretty much blew the book off after that... and I actually *like* Clive Cussler novels, so that's pretty sad!

hhEb09'1
2006-May-22, 12:57 PM
They have a remote camera somewhere underneath the Vatican, transmitting a picture of a bomb. And NOBODY THINKS TO TRIANGULATE ON THE CAMERA'S SIGNAL or even get a frikkin' RF meter and walk around!! AAAGGGRRRRRGGGHGHGH!!It's been a while since I read the book, but I seem to remember that that was discussed, and explained away.

mid
2006-May-22, 01:21 PM
Sadly, it really wasn't. They said they couldn't triangulate the camera signal because there was too much RF noise in the building. Then they turned off all possible power to cut the RF noise. So they could attempt to detect the bomb itself, and not the camera...

Dr Nigel
2006-May-22, 08:00 PM
They have a remote camera somewhere underneath the Vatican, transmitting a picture of a bomb. And NOBODY THINKS TO TRIANGULATE ON THE CAMERA'S SIGNAL or even get a frikkin' RF meter and walk around!! AAAGGGRRRRRGGGHGHGH!!

Good point. I didn't spot that one when I read the book.

Plus, if there's too much RF noise to DF the camera, there'd be too much to receive the picture. Duh!

And there's more: a TV signal is very, very wide (FM voice can be transmitted in 25 kHz of bandwith, or about 3 kHz if you use SSB {single side-band with supressed carrier} instead - a typical TV signal would be hundreds of kHz wide). So, I'm sure they could have acquired a spectrum analyser and connected it to a highly directional antenna to DF the camera's signal through any amount of noise. Any amount of RF noise that doesn't actually swamp the camera's signal, that is.

Strider1974
2006-May-24, 08:36 PM
There was another forgettable one I'd read immediately prior, that threw up strawman after strawman vs the global warming argument, portraying all environmentallists as hopelessly mis/uninformed, lying and/or insane terrorists. To its credit, it showed references, but as the author allowed for no opposing POV that wasn't self-serving and strawmannish, and that I'm not competent to argue the opposing POV, I simply couldn't accept his argument at face value under those terms.

Michael Crighton's "State Of Fear"

I got halfway through Deception Point.....Just after the iceberg scene. Ya want top shelf bad science, go read Mathew Riley lol. He is in a class of his own

No argument Mathew Riley's science is atrocious but at least his books are worth reading.

Weird Dave
2006-May-24, 11:12 PM
In "State of Fear" he goes to great lengths to find references for everything he says, making the book seem like a research paper with a story tacked on.

[Spoiler]

But then he introduces these little devices that are hidden in the heroes' cell phones to attract lightning. That's right, mobile phones that attract lightning. Products of "military research", that he doesn't seem to have referenced...

Even ignoring Crichton's global warming stance, the book is pretty far-fetched as a conspriacy thriller. There are some ridiculously predictable scenes, and he stops the action to give us lectures (literally). With graphs. I bet even the Da Vinci Code doesn't have graphs.

mike alexander
2006-May-24, 11:50 PM
As far as I can tell, Crichton for a big part just keeps writing the same novel over and over, a la "The Andromeda Strain". More successful with something like "Eaters of the Dead".

Dr Nigel
2006-May-27, 09:58 AM
I only read one Michael Crighton novel, and that was Jurassic Park. But I wished I hadn't read it because it spoiled the film.

What I mean is, I went and read the book just before the film came out. The story was basically the same, except that two characters in the book had been conflated into one in the film, but the four protagonists (the "family unit") had totally different characters in the film. In the book, Sam Neil's character didn't start out hating children. That was added to the film to give his character some fortune-cookie psych-type "development". Plus, the kids in the film were really annoying. I found myself wanting the velociraptors to eat them.

Gillianren
2006-May-27, 05:38 PM
Oh, and of course Ian Malcolm died, which made for a very irritating discussion in line for The Lost World with someone who'd seen the first movie and read the first book. Other people in line agreed that he looked mighty good for a dead man, but the guy we were with refused to admit that we who'd read the first book could be right.

Dr Nigel
2006-May-27, 07:56 PM
That's a phenomenon I've noticed - the first version of something one encounters tends to take on a "definitive" status in one's mind. This seems to apply to more or less anything - different versions of the same story, different spellings or pronunciations of the same word, or any scenario that has no objective "right" answer.

Gas Giant
2006-May-30, 01:19 PM
They did chop out the whole "stop the dinosaurs on the boat from getting to land" plot thread from the movie, and I was disappointed that Sam Neill didn't roll any poisoned eggs at the velociraptors.

HenrikOlsen
2006-May-30, 01:45 PM
That's a phenomenon I've noticed - the first version of something one encounters tends to take on a "definitive" status in one's mind. This seems to apply to more or less anything - different versions of the same story, different spellings or pronunciations of the same word, or any scenario that has no objective "right" answer.
Easiest example of that is to ask people who is the real Doctor for them, ie. for me it's Tom Baker since he was the first I saw.

Roy Batty
2006-May-30, 07:20 PM
Easiest example of that is to ask people who is the real Doctor for them, ie. for me it's Tom Baker since he was the first I saw.
Doesn't quite work for me, my first was Pertwee, but favourite is Tom Baker ;)

peter eldergill
2006-May-31, 02:15 AM
Tom Baker was really good, but honestly, I think Eccleston (sp?) is "The Doctor" as far as I'm concerned. Too bad he quit after one season

Haven't seen Davinci Code yet, but I've read 3 of his books

Pete

Gas Giant
2006-Jun-02, 01:16 PM
He didn't quit, he was only ever offered the one series - Russell T Davies wanted to do a regeneration. Not sure why he didn't have Paul McGann turn into Ecclestone, perhaps he wasn't available.

ToSeek
2006-Jun-02, 03:15 PM
He didn't quit, he was only ever offered the one series - Russell T Davies wanted to do a regeneration.

Not true. Eccleston only signed for the one series because he didn't want to be typecast. No way would a producer as savvy as Davies tell one of the top actors in Britain he could only do one series.

Not sure why he didn't have Paul McGann turn into Ecclestone, perhaps he wasn't available.

Davies didn't want to do a regeneration at the get-go because he thought it would be confusing to new viewers.

Dr Nigel
2006-Jun-02, 07:33 PM
Haven't seen Davinci Code yet, but I've read 3 of his books

Pete

Ah, the question is, Pete, did the Bad Science stop you from enjoying the books?

sciguy
2007-Nov-21, 06:39 PM
You need to read a real science book for a change. The heat accumulated by an object passing throught he atmosphere IS caused by friction.The increased pressure you speak of increases the interaction of the air molecules and qualifies as friction. Forget the density issues you're not even using Newtonian physics in your arguement. An object does not neccesarily have a uniform density. ie shell vs. inner organs. therefore not a direct volume to density relationship.

KaiYeves
2007-Nov-22, 04:04 PM
Is Deception Point the one with the fossils in the meteorite? My friend's mother was talking about it once.