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Author Topic: Science in Science Fiction (And other specialized fields in entertainment)  (Read 2117 times)
Hathen
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« on: June 21, 2009, 02:01:49 AM »

I'm wondering if this bothers any of you as much as it does me. Being someone that likes watching a lot of Science Fiction, I tend to get irritated if the science involved in it is bad. I never have a problem if you're making a mistake over something only experts would know- technobabble is something that comes with the territory. Having an engine system, a cooling system for it and all that is fine, because that stuff has a certain amount of logic to it. I hate it, though, when writers clearly only read the first line of a Science textbook and then base an entire story off of it.

A good example would be in a Star Trek: Voyager episode where they have this technobabbly solution to escaping a black hole. They compared a black hole to being like falling into thin ice and trying to get back up, and in order to get back up, you find a crack in the ice, transferring to being a crack in the event horizon (which is a thing around a black hole that you can't pass through, once you're past it, you can't escape a black hole). This may sound fine, but the event horizon is actually a mathematically defined boundary, rather than something physical that can be cracked. It'd be like saying if I had a car that could go 20mi/gallon with a 10 gallon tank, and if I drew a circle 200 miles around the car, I could put a crack in that circle I just drew and keep driving through that hole as if it was the circle that was the thing that was stopping me.

I will admit that for me, this is only a huge problem if the Science is at the center stage of the plot (Which it really never should be, but it ends up being so a lot of the time). As in, the difference between "oh, the engine's broken, we gotta go down to this planet we're near and find a solution" and "oh, the engine's broken, let's reroute the power of our multispectral subspace banana trapeze wingnut gun into it". Having things happen at the complete convenience to the plot is the hallmark of a lazy writer to me. In many cases, bad science is just another example of how the writers are putting effort into the material.

Imagine if you're watching The Longest Yard, and you're a football fan. You'd want this football movie to be accurate about football, correct? And what if one of the characters came out and said,
"Oh, you see that guy? Well he's a great player. You know why? Because he was a goalie for the Brooklyn Red Sox, and he was with O.J. Simpson and Vince Lombardi at the '62 superbowl at Montreal."
Anybody that knows anything about football would know that this is a bunch of nonsense, and the more you know about it, the dumber it sounds. Point is, if a writer isn't going to try making any of their specialized terms at least make some sense, there's no purpose for that writer to be in this genre.
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Lard
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2009, 12:01:54 AM »

It bugs me as well.

I like science. I'm not very good at it, but I can understand general principles of how things work.

If the science is bad enough that even *I* notice it, then it annoys me.
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Serene Prophet
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2009, 12:21:33 AM »

Me I have very limited science knowledge.  I was never very good at it in High School, and avoided taking classes involving anything but biology.  So for me I tend to just think, sounds cool whatever.  But I can see how it could upset those with more scientific knowledge..I suppose in this case "ignorance is bliss"
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Lard
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2009, 01:13:35 AM »

The end of Star Trek, with them shooting out of the black hole, is a perfect example of stuff that just pisses me off, even with my limited science knowledge.
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Dincrest
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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2009, 08:14:56 AM »

Didn't Stan Lee once say that he doesn't know jack about science and mostly just wrote stuff that sounded good?  Like Hulk being the result of a gamma ray experiment gone wrong.  Not plausible at all these days what with current scientific knowledge, but it doesn't matter since Hulk's iconic anyway. 

And perhaps this may be why traditional fantasy seems more timeless than sci-fi, because old-time science fiction gets outmoded by current and future science fact. 
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Lard
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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2009, 03:13:29 PM »

Yeah, but stuff like Peter Parker building web shooters using his science knowledge at least sounds plausible.

It's the really obvious stuff that bugs me.
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Ashton
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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2009, 03:45:28 PM »

I consistently notice more and more things wrong with medical sections of movies and stuff.

For example, SHOCKING A FLATLINE. WHAT THE HELL.
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Fei
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2009, 10:34:05 PM »

Rogue Galaxy comes to mind.  You have to find fruit to make booster oil in order to repair your ship.

I consistently notice more and more things wrong with medical sections of movies and stuff.

For example, SHOCKING A FLATLINE. WHAT THE HELL.

http://amos.indiana.edu/library/scripts/flatline.html

I feel really dumb now.  The premise behind Crank 2: High Voltage must have rubbed you the wrong way as well.
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