Should Hollywood Movies and TV Shows Be More Scientifically Accurate?

Two years ago, my Physics I professor mentioned the movie “Gravity” when talking about torque, velocity, and other basic physics concepts… because the movie’s writers got them all wrong. He warned his students that the way Hollywood depicts physics will make it more difficult for us to understand real-world physics.

In a way, he’s right. We watch movies and TV shows “believing” (or getting used to the idea) that huge explosions can result from minor collisions, people can jump across huge gaps, people can stand up after getting hit by a heavy object… Yeah, in the back of our minds we know that cinematic effects are added to scenes to make on-screen stories seem more interesting than everyday life. But some subtle unrealistic depictions in movies and TV shows can seem realistic… so realistic that we choose to believe them without question.

“The most frequent sci-fi physics sin is, without a doubt, the incredible sounds emitted by all those zooming spacecraft, all those exploding planets, all those laser beams whizzing by. As every student learns very early on, sound waves need a medium through which to pass in the form of vibrations to be heard. Air, water, the membrane of your eardrum–all are sufficient media to transmit these vibrations. And as we all know, the cold vacuum of space is unfortunately devoid of anything substantial enough to serve as a transmissive medium. It’s true, however, that those unfortunate enough to have their spacecraft destroyed be in a spaceship while it was exploding would certainly hear quite a racket for a few split seconds from inside, as the sound vibrations passed through the ship itself and into what was left of the cockpit’s pressurized atmosphere as it broke up. But once the damage was done, we’d be back to space’s normal, somber silence. But hey, I guess all those sound designers and THX-equipped theaters need to be used for something, right?” (Source: PopSci)

On the other hand, sci-fi films and shows like “Star Trek” have inspired future STEMists. A lot of techies and “Star Trek” fans love to talk about how the show introduced the idea of the cellphone, but there are, of course, other inventive concepts that the show introduced such as the tablet.

Remember when the iPhone was revealed back in 2007? There were rumors about how Apple will compete with cellphone companies, but no one expected Apple to introduce a “button-less cellphone”.

The iPhone gained popularity SLOWLY. Today, a lot of people (especially young adults, teenagers, and pre-teens) are obsessed with using touchscreen smartphones for gaming, messaging, camera, news, shopping, and social media apps. But back then, can you believe that few people realized how valuable the iPhone’s multi-functional capabilities are, let alone how a “button-less phone” is possible?

So, should movies and TV shows be more scientifically accurate?

In some ways, yes. Movies that try to tell more believable stories like “Gravity” should get their scripts reviewed by scientists. Fun fact: Neil deGrasse Tyson (the iconic guy behind the “We got a badass over here” meme) complained about how the stars in the night skies shown in “Titanic” were inaccurate, and James Cameron updated the scenes after hearing Tyson’s complaint because he loves science.

In other ways, sci-fi should still be promoted in the entertainment industry.

One of my favorite sci-fi scenes of all time is from the movie “Blade Runner”, starring Harrison Ford. That movie’s villain, Roy Batty, is an AI robot who said one of the most emotional movie quotes of all time – his “Tears In Rain” monologue:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

You don’t really have to understand what that movie’s about. Those two things I mentioned about the villain can make some viewers think about a future of “Astro Boys”, robot ethics, innovative things, … etc.

A lot of things that seem unrealistic in Hollywood films now may end up becoming real in the future.

What if, in the future, someone invented special listening devices to hear sounds in outer space? That’s a far-fetched thought, but I guess it’s an interesting thought.

I read Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” when I was in elementary school, and little did I know that Jules Verne is regarded as an influential man for many inventions that characterize the 20th-century. I’ve seen Leonardo da Vinci’s odd sketches of planes and tanks when I was a kid too, and little did I know that he imagined those vehicles before someone built them.

It’s pretty evident that some people come up with creative ideas and solutions that are related or inspired by unrealistic phenomena depicted in films. So, because of that, I’m against the idea of making movies “more scientifically accurate”.

Instead, I’d like to see more STEM educators teach students about biology, technology, physics, etc. through analyzing popular films that students have most likely seen. That should keep students interested in STEM, and help them better understand abstract STEM concepts.

“Heartless” Humans

People can live without human hearts.

Here are some amazing people who lived without human hearts to circulate their blood.

People can live without hearts.

Here are some amazing people who lived without human hearts to circulate their blood.

 


 

Henry Opitek

He’s a man who used what is considered to be the world’s first mechanical heart.

In 1952, Mr. Opitek was suffering from a shortness of breath and chest pains.

A doctor developed Dodill-GMR – an external machine that allows doctors to detour blood and stop the heart of a patient during an operation. was used on a patient to restore his breathing pattern.

He died in 1981 – 29 years after the operation.

 


 

Craig Lewis

He’s the first man to have his heart replaced with mechanical pumps.

In 2011, Mr. Lewis was dying from amyloidosis – a rare autoimmune disease that causes rapid heart, kidney, and liver failure with a viscous protein.

Two doctors knew that a pacemaker won’t help him, and decided to test a device that can help circulate blood without replicating pulses. The prototype device is a combination of two modified pumps. So far, Mr. Lewis is the only person to have benefitted from this device.

He died five weeks after the operation.

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Jakub Halik

He’s the second man to undergo the procedure.

In 2012, when he was brought into the hospital, doctors found an aggressive tumor growing inside his heart. Doctors also told him that he wouldn’t survive a heart transplant because the drugs he would have to take afterwards are ineffective with his cancer.

Mr. Halik was given two battery-powered 20-cm pumps with propellers that spin at 10,000 rpm. Also, like the device implanted in Mr. Lewis, the pumps cannot replicate pulses.

He died six months after the operation.

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Bat-Tech That Would Make Policemen Badass

I wanna see policemen kick-butt with Bat-tech!

Bat-Signal

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Let’s heighten the danger by displaying the police department’s logo or message on the sky.


Bat-Cape

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It’s not a bird. It’s not a plane. It’s not Superman. It’s a cop!


Ear Microphones

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If only cops ditched the walkie-talkies and phones, and started wearing Bluetooth microphones.


Wearable Lie Detector

This detetor reads a person’s heart rate and body temperature. It then sends a feedback to the wearer about whether or not he’s being lied to.

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Cryptographer Sequencer

This allows the user to hack into things such as mechanical locks, radios, and computers within a few feet away.

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Shock Gauntlets

Policemen wouldn’t have to worry about throwing strong punches if they worse shock gauntlets.

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Batsuit Taser

Whenever policemen run out of gadgets, they can trigger an electric charge through their suits to shock enemies that come into contact with them.

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Disruptor

When the user is at a reasonable distance from firearms, he can jam those firearms.

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Bat-Computer

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Information overload.

Bat-computer > J.A.R.V.I.S.


Remote-Controlled, Autonomous, and Armored Batmobile

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Why run to the car when the car can drive up to to you? Why chase down your enemies when your car can do the chasing?

Badguys will know they’re in deep shit when they see policemen in that vehicle.


 

EMP Gun

 

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If you don’t know what EMP stands for, it means electromagnetic pulse.

When used, the gun can take down enemies or operatae electrical equipment from a distance. What a shocker!


Cowl Lenses

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Batman doesn’t have white eyes; he’s wearing cowl lenses.

Those lenses help Batman switch between night vision, thermal vision, x-ray vision, and a host of other optical settings that help him do his detective work.


Rocket Boots

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The policemen are climbin’ yo windows, and snatchin’ yo people up.


Grappling Gun

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When they’re too lazy to fly with their capes and rocket boots, the policemen can just swing around and kick-ass.

The Wired Connection Between Humans and Technology

Contemplate on how our paradoxical love-hate feeling towards technology stemmed from our perplex perspective of our human nature.

Cool it, will you J.A.R.V.I.S.?

-Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark in “Iron Man 2”

It does not have a face, personality, or mind. Yet, Tony Stark enjoys talking to his ‘rather very intelligent butler.’ His inveterate, obsessive ‘relationship’ with his software is no different from some iPhone users’ ‘relationship’ with Siri; people not only dictate commands to Siri, but they engage in conversations with ‘her.’ The same thing can also be said for how people interact with “Ok Google,” robots, and countless other technologies and software that can respond to user inputs ‘intelligently.’ The re-imagination of Tony’s human butler, Edwin Jarvis, into a multifunctional A.I. program is not only representative of our ubiquitous usage of technology, but it also shows our strange affinity for technologies that are ‘human-like’ in features.

The re-imagination of Tony’s human butler, Edwin Jarvis, into a multifunctional A.I. program is not only representative of our ubiquitous usage of technology, but it also shows our strange affinity for technologies that are ‘human-like’ in features.

 

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(Left) Edwin Jarvis; (Right) J.A.R.V.I.S.

People are so infatuated with technology that they unconsciously imagine them as companions who are, in some ways, a reflection of their human identity. We identify Siri and J.A.R.V.I.S. with gender nouns instead of referring them as ‘it’, as well as identify A.I.s as intelligent things even though they have CPUs instead of brains. Currently-developed robots (Asimo), and robots from sci-fi movies (C-3P0 and R2-D2 from “Star Wars,” the Terminator, Transformers,  and Sonny from “I, Robot”) resemble humans anatomically.

 

J.A.R.V.I.S. assumes a new identity as a person named Vision in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”

My human engrams sense a strange void—an empty feeling. I believe the word for the human emotion is ‘regret.’

-Paul Bettany as Vision in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”

Not only do people see themselves in technology, but they are unintentionally reshaping their identity by ‘becoming’ robotic. Electronica and techno songs played by singers such as Daft Punk and Owl City have been recognized as mainstream music. Instead of just treating patients with traditional medicine and surgical procedures, doctors offer prosthetic limbs as an option for amputees.

 

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Ironically, our desire to have more social technology is accompanied with our fear of technology becoming ‘too human.’ The ‘uncanny valley’ and automatonophobia are just some of the terms people like to describe their uncomfortability with technology that closely resembles people.

But what exactly is ‘too human’ to those who are scared of technology?

This contradiction and confusion in thought can be explained by how we view ourselves through our technological achievements. Because technology is the product of our desires, it exposes the true nature of humans in its design—the humanitarian and wicked sides that we fail to totally concede.

Our technology is as human as we imagine them to be.

We are as human as we imagine ourselves to be.