Thursday, July 31, 2008

Top Ten Scientifically Inaccurate Movies

Yahoo Movies has a slide show of the top 10 scientifically inaccurate movies. Not surprisingly, they point out some bad bioscience:
  • Starship Troopers: "Could a band of cave-dwelling, preverbal giant insects really have the sophisticated mathematics and technology to hurl a rock millions of miles through space to crash into Earth?"
  • The Matrix: "Humans are a remarkably inefficient energy source. Instead of turning the human race into Duracells, the machines would probably get more energy just setting those goopy people pods on fire."
  • Jurassic Park: "The problem is that it would be almost impossible to clone the dinosaurs based on DNA pulled from the guts of a 25 million-year-old mosquito. The dinosaur DNA's double helix most certainly would have been broken down into individual chunks, mixing together with whatever else the mosquitoes might have eaten along with some of the insect's own genetic material."
  • Outbreak: "The trouble with a disease that virulent is it kills the host too fast to spread. Otherwise, we would be dead from the Ebola virus. Also, it generally takes longer to make a cure from monkey serum than it does to make a latte."
Yup, pretty darn bad science - but fun to talk about.



Kosmonavtka said...

Re: Starship Troopers - insects could not get that big because of physical limitations (see "The Biology of B-Movie Monsters").

Daniel said...

Hmmm... in Starship Troopers, wasn't it a major plot point that there were hidden "brain bugs" that did all the thinking for the species, while the preverbal insects were just mindless grunts?

Regarding the possibility of insects reaching that size: I agree for terrestrial insects, but I can't see why "insect-like" creatures with an independent evolutionary history would suffer from the same constraints. There's no particular reason I can see why having an exoskeleton necessarily entails using simple diffusion to supply oxygen.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to the Matrix, they actually gave a better reason for why the machines are using the people in pods instead of setting them on fire (something to do with using human brains as data storage), but the producers nixed it because it was "too complicated".