View Full Version : Newton's Laws Repealed?

mike alexander
2003-Jul-03, 04:30 PM
Of all the things that movies/TV seem to get wrong, the laws of motion seem to be the most overlooked.

Spaceships are always ACCELERATING. Coming into a planetfall you see the darned things heading toward the planet with the burners going full-bore. They enter atmosphere and don't heat up from friction.

I am ignoring, of course, the effects of acceleration on the ocupants inside. Nobody cares about that.

Has anyone ever seen an acknowledgement of the rules of momentum, inertia, or the like (Okay, except Destination Moon)? Would be interested to know.

PS: Does anyone remember the episode of Battlestar Galactica where the fleet ran out of fuel and COASTED TO A STOP in deep space? Does anyone have an even more stupid incident they can remember?

(Wait. I just remembered one. It was a TV movie called 'Starflight, the thing that couldn't come down' or somesuch. A hypersonic transport's engines jam and it acidentally goes into orbit. Nobody can figure out how to get it back to earth without it burning up. Then some bright guy decides to send up a shuttle that will reenter AHEAD of the plane to protect it from the heat of reentry. THAT was a good one).

Others for the Hall of Infamy, anyone?

2003-Jul-03, 06:44 PM
Starflight: The Plane That Couldn't Land (http://us.imdb.com/Details?0086357)

Later re-released as Starflight One. It starred Lee Majors as the pilot of the imperiled Earth-orbiting-aircraft, which always made me wonder why he didn't just use his bionic powers to get them out of trouble.)

2003-Jul-03, 06:48 PM
Of course, if we're going to whine about spacecraft behaving in a non-Newtonian manner, we need look no farther than Star Wars. X-wing fighters banking like airplanes, Porkins having to "pull up" from a "dive", TIE fighters with their engines on thrusting straight toward the Death Star at high speed (to land in one of its docking bays, not to ram into it) ... the list goes on and on.

It was Star Wars that encouraged Hollywood throw out F=ma. Poor old Sir Isaac has never fully recovered.

2003-Jul-03, 07:29 PM
Interesting topic. How about the inertial dampers in Star Trek? Those were introduced to deal with the affects of the fast acceleration of the ships. So if the inertial dampers go off line (which seems to happen on occasion) and the ship is spinning around out of control - shouldn't the crew get "splatted"?

glen chapman
2003-Jul-03, 08:06 PM
I'd have to say the aero-braking manouver in 2010 was pretty good, although a couple of the wide angle shots had a small glitch, at least they tried to get it resonably right


mike alexander
2003-Jul-03, 09:49 PM
ah, good. 2010 wasn't bad at all. I'm thinking of really DUMB stuff, beyond the pale. Like the scene in Armageddon where the CIAtype says 'there's only seven telescopes that can see it, and we've already got (taken over, I assume) six.' Now if the asteroid's the size of TEXAS and it's in near-lunar space, well... IT'S A QUARTER THE SIZE OF THE MOON, YOU IDIOTS! YOU CAN SEE IT WITH THE NAKED EYE! The freakin' thing's the size of Ceres!

Then, a SINGLE bomb (A or H, who knows) imparts enough momentum to the two halves to go around either side of the earth (from a standing distance of a couple of earth radii). MOVING TEXAS WITH A SINGLE H BOMB?

So you see, I'm not thinking about stuff like Star Wars, which is more a scientific romance (like Barsoom. Who cares about the 'science' when Deja Thoris is around, anyway?). I'm thinking 'supposed to be realistic' but so incredibly stupid you can only suspend your disbelief with a Skyhook balloon.

Speaking of which...

glen chapman
2003-Jul-03, 10:34 PM
[quoah, good. 2010 wasn't bad at all. I'm thinking of really DUMB stuff, beyond the pale]

Oh okay - worlds all time worst is the crash scene in Flight to Mars 1951. Intrepid pilot is trying to land the spacecraft amidst a huge snow capped? range of mountains.

He is moaning they are going to die cause they are flying to fast. Scene cuts to outside shot of spacecraft gliding along, about 5 seconds before it hits the ground, the motors burst into life.

The result being the ship is accellerating when it plows into the mountain. That's okay, but the avalanch that happens after the crash makes the slump of Mount St Helens look small.

But this is okay - the mission is rescued by a bunch of Martians in spacesuits (circa Destination Moon) that have had the face plates removed.

Among the Martian rescue team was an Afro-American Martian. I have nothing against Afro-Americans, just wondering when they colonised the Moon.

Another film, with far to many mistakes to list, is 12 to the Moon, a truely bad classic.