Another Top 10 Movies with Bogus Science
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Cameron Bradford
Movies featuring science that is completely ridiculous in real life, these films played fast and loose the laws of physics, energy, and just about everything else. WatchMojo presents Another Top 10 Examples of Bogus Science in movies. But what will take the top spot? A Volcano spontaneously forming and erupting in Los Angeles, the noise of space battles, or Indiana Jones Surviving a Nuclear Explosion by hiding inside a fridge? Watch to find out!
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Big thanks to Dan Paradis for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Instances+of+Questionable+Movie+Science
Get out your calculator and un-suspend your disbelief. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for another top 10 instances of bogus movie science.
For this list, we’re looking at more films that take liberties with their science, by including instances when they try to pass off science fiction as science fact, where the science doesn’t make sense or where the science is changed to serve the plot. If you think we missed something on this list, be sure to check out our first list of the Top 10 Movies with Bogus Science.
#10: Using Humans as an Energy Source
At the center of the Matrix Trilogy are people living in a simulated version of the present, as their bodies are used as power sources for robots in the actual present year of 2199. The problem with this is that it makes no thermodynamic sense. The robots would be better off burning the food they give to humans as a power source than feeding them and using whatever energy the humans produce. The machines may have subdued the human race in this film’s reality, but we can all take solace in the fact that they know even less about energy efficiency than we do.
“The Matrix” (1999)
#9: Getting from the Hubble Space Telescope to the ISS
Although “Gravity” tried to paint itself as a more realistic space saga, it still made its fair share of errors. We don’t have enough time to mention all of them, but the most obvious is Sandra Bullock’s ability to (relatively) easily traverse from the Hubble Space Telescope to the ISS, even though the Hubble orbits over 100 kilometers higher than the ISS. The scientific consensus is that traveling that distance with only a jetpack would not be possible. Among the other inaccuracies in the film are Bollock’s sexy space attire, the ISS debris reappearing every 90 minutes and her being able to get to the Tiangong-1 from the ISS. Great visuals though!
#8: Ant-Man’s Inconsistent Weight
Admittedly, shrinking to insect proportions requires some suspension of disbelief to start with, but our beef is with Ant-Man’s inconsistent weight. The Pym suit shrinks Ant-Man by bringing his atoms closer together, not reducing them in size or number, so, he should, theoretically, retain the same weight when he’s teeny as he has as a normal-sized man. But throughout the film we see this weight vary; sometimes he’s incredibly light, other times, he’s incredibly dense. Another scientific faux pas is his ability to go subatomic, since atoms are also incredibly dense. So Ant-Man, who’s composed of trillions of atoms, shouldn’t be able to become smaller than a single atom – it just doesn’t add up.
#7: Microwave Emitter
While Christopher Nolan’s goal for the Dark Knight series was to make it more realistic, he didn’t pull it off without a few scientific missteps. The problem we’re concerned with is the microwave transmitter used by Scarecrow in his effort to evaporate Gotham’s water supply and render the fear toxin airborne. Not only would the emitter be unable to penetrate the steel of the train car; it would also certainly not have been able to instantly boil the water in the pipes – especially given its size and how quickly the train was moving. There are simply too many obstacles for this to have worked the way it’s depicted in the film.
“Batman Begins” (2005)
#6: Neutrinos Melting the Earth’s Core
If you can ignore the goofy premise where the Mayan calendar actually predicted the end of civilization, then there’s plenty of equally goofy science to enjoy in this Roland Emmerich disaster film. Of course, the most notable of 2012’s bogus plot points is that the sun reaches its maximum output and starts sending out neutrinos that are somehow able the heat the earth’s core to its boiling point and cause untold mayhem. The problem there is that even if neutrinos could somehow magically do that, their presence would start wreaking havoc on the surface long before they started heating up the core.
#5: Curving a Bullet
“Wanted” is filled with flashy stunts and doesn’t really try to stick to the rules of physics. That’s most apparent in the iconic bullet curving that’s depicted in the film. Just by rotating their arms as they fire their guns, the assassins are able to alter their bullets’ trajectories so they spiral around by-standers and hit bad guys. Unfortunately, the science of ballistics doesn’t work that way. While bullets do fly in a curved trajectory, this is a long parabolic arc formed by gravitational pull, and not by Angelina Jolie flicking her wrist. Guns are actually designed to make bullets fly as straight as possible, and no matter how hard you swing your arm, you’re not going to change simple physics.
#4: Martian Sandstorm
Much like the film “Gravity,” “The Martian” takes a relatively realistic approach to science fiction. Also like “Gravity,” it still made some pretty big mistakes, the most noticeable of which is the windstorm that maroons Mark Watney on Mars in the first place. While there are slight winds on the red planet, there’s nowhere near enough atmospheric density to cause the massive storm depicted in the film. The movie also fails to show how the astronauts deal with the heightened levels of radiation in space and on the surface of Mars. However, despite the inaccuracies, the film still does a good job of sticking to scientific principles in other areas, such as Watney’s botanical pursuits, and the orbital dynamics of the spacecraft.
“The Martian” (2015)
#3: Volcano Spontaneously Forming in L.A.
Volcanoes can be one of the most devastating natural disasters. Whether it’s the lava flows or plumes of hot ash, they’re not messing around, but they are something most people - including the population of Los Angeles - don’t have to worry about. But “Volcano,” which is set in L.A., shows a volcano spontaneously forming under the city and wreaking havoc. The only problem with that? The volcano forms on the San Andreas Fault, which is a transform fault and not a subduction fault, where volcanoes commonly occur. So while it may be a captivating idea, the citizens of L.A. should probably be more concerned with realistic threats, like earthquakes and water shortages.
#2: Surviving a Nuclear Explosion in a Fridge
Indiana Jones has a long history of pulling off death-defying stunts and most of them haven’t drawn too much scientific inquiry. However, in the fourth installment, Indy decides to try his luck waiting out a nuclear test inside a refrigerator. In reality, this type of event would not have been survivable; even if the fridge were able to protect Indy from the heat and radiation, the force of the blast that sent the fridge flying away would have resulted in severe trauma. Maybe Indiana Jones should stick to obstacles that can be overcome with his bullwhip.
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008)
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Cryonics from 2001 Being Adequate
“Vanilla Sky” (2001)
- Inaccurate Depiction of Mars
“Total Recall” (1990)
- Antibodies Produced in Unaffected Blood
“I Am Legend” (2007)
#1: Sound in Space
It may have become one of the most iconic and successful film franchises of all time, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t make some glaring errors. But today, we’re focusing on the sound-filled space battles throughout the series. The creators of Star Wars probably knew that sound doesn’t travel in a vacuum, but filming a stark silent dog fight in space would not have been as fun to watch. While some movies have gotten this particular detail right, space scenes with sound have been common in many sci-fi films since Star Wars. The results: epic aerial battles… that may not be the best point of reference for anyone studying space.
“Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope” (1977)
Did you agree with our list? What movies do you think have bogus science? For more enlightening Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.