This flick was nominated for 4 (COUNT 'em) FOUR Academy Awards. Fine. And,
this movie. It has just the right combination of silly
humor and pointless violence to rate highly on the famous
However, the science in this movie is horrendous. I panned this movie in
October, 98, at the NJ Science Teacher's Convention (after seeing it in the
10 or 12 times....). I then found a Website dedicated to it and others. It's
worth a few minutes to visit
Phil Plait's BAD Astronomy
Dr. Plait is an honest to goodness Astronomer/Scientist formerly of the Goddard
Center in Maryland, but currently toiling away as an Astronomy Prof an
all-round good guy in Southern California! Poor Guy, huh? [Update 05/18/09:
Phil is now a famous author,
Death From the Skies
, and President of
Lord of All Time Space & Dimension
He runs an excellent website on astronomy and it's misconceptions,
misrepresentations, and downright wrong-headedness in society.
Astronomy in the News
the May 21, 1999 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer an article appeared on
page A6 from NASA via Washington about the path of asteroid 1999AN10. This guy,
discovered in January, 1999, is only 1/2 mile wide, is quite visible to NASA,
and they have a pretty good idea of where it's going. It will pass
between 19,000 miles and 600,000 miles of earth in the year 2027!
am I mentioning this? No one in this movie could see an asteroid "the size
of TEXAS", 1250km wide, until it beat up the shuttle and was 18 only days
away! Boy, these movie NASA guys just aren't as good as the real NASA guys,
Asteroid 2009 DD45
came 'close to the earth on Monday March 02 at around 8.30am ET, at just under
45,000 miles above the surface of the planet. That's about twice as far as the
typical high altitude satellite.]
An overview of the movie:
Opening scene shows the "Dinosaur
Killer" asteroid impacting with the earth long ago. A few things about its
Listen carefully as it passes the camera view. (Let's get past the
"No Sound In Space Thing"
or we'll never get past this intro...) Try to shut your eyes and recognize the
sound the asteroid makes as it "swooshes" by. It's the
sound of a Jumbo Jet taking off from LAX airport! Keep in mind, this film won a
Once it hits, a
chain-reaction fireball engulfs the entire planet – even the oceans - like
the "Genesis" devise did in
Star Trek II-The Wrath of Khan
. When a
rock hits another rock, even when one rock is an asteroid and the other a
planet, lots and lots of energy is released, yes. However, a
chain-reaction fire that circles out from the impact point is pure
sci-fi. Enough energy is released to cause nuclear winter by
throwing an immense amount of dirt to block out the sun for an extended
period. Thereby wreaking havoc on the life forms on the surface.
The narrator, the great
Charlton Heston, claims the impact had the "
force of 10,000 nuclear
". The writers of the show even admitted later that the number
10,000 sounded good. Unfortunately, 10,000 nukes wouldn't even start
nuclear autumn, let alone nuclear winter. By the most conservative
estimates, it would require 800,000 nukes all exploding at the same point
at the same time AND simultaneously to cause a nuke winter.
Next scene is a shuttle
repair mission to some satellite. Soon, flaming streaks (See images below)
of asteroid hunks
are swooshing by and through everything. A few problems with this.
Flaming trails are
caused by extreme air resistance and in the presence of oxygen. Both are
lacking when shuttle is in orbit.
Every time a chunk
hits a part of the satellite OR shuttle, an explosion ensues. There
would, in all probability, be nothing on this satellite to explode. You
see explosions as hunks rip through the solar panels and dish! The
shuttle itself explodes 6 separate times. The last 3 times when it's wing
is hit repeatedly.
The astronaut outside
the shuttle has his facemask hit by a chunk and his shield shatters (See
image below). 23
seconds later, he is heard screaming and seen flying into empty space.
Notice how many times the Shuttle explodes! There are 6 distinct explosions!
Every time a meteor strikes it, no matter where - a wing, the nose, the tail -
it explodes dramatically. How much fuel and in how many places does this thing
Barrage of meteors striking NYC: Notice in one shot, a hunk made a semi-smooth
hole in the sidewalk and left a puppy named Reggie and a large Hawaiian
dangling over the side (See image below). Don't think a meteor thta large would
just carve a cylindrical shaped hole. Makes a crater, yes. LARGE crater, yes.
Smooth hole, no.
Also, notice the two images below. They are taken from inside Grand Central
Station. 1st image is fine. 2nd image is a moment before a meteor comes
crashing in. Notice, windows and such are already being blown inward before the
meteor is even there. This is good, I think. The shock wave of something moving
that fast would compress so much air in front of it that the air itself bangs into the object before the meteor gets there.
This asteroid is "
size of Texas
". WOW! Where the heck did that come from? The
largest asteroid in our system, Ceres, is only 1/3 that size (diameter of
472km) and is visible with even a good pair of binoculars under good
conditions. No one ever saw this thing till it was 18 days away? I'm sure someone would've looked up in the night sky and yelled, "Hey, Mom! Look! Here comes Texas!"
It is supposedly what's left over from
an explosion that followed a collision from a "rogue" comet.
C'mon! A tiny comet, not much more than a big snowball, hitting the
ironclad asteroids, which is larger than the piece headed our way, would do
no more than tick it off! The NASA guy, Truman, even explains this with an animation for Harry (Willis). Check the size of this comet compared to the size of the asteroids! That comet is the size of a planet!
The main hunk will be here 18
days AFTER the first fragments hit. What? It has us in its sights and is
following our orbit? Where are we 18 days later? At an orbital velocity of
30 km/s, we are 46,656,000 km AWAY from where the first ones hit us! The
asteroid cluster, Shoemaker-Levy9, had a batch of its 22 fragments hit
Jupiter a while back. It took 5 days or so to hit and the last couple
pieces of it missed Jupiter because Jupiter was moving out of the way! SL-9
was moving at 60 km/s or 216,000 MPH while Jupiter mopes along at only 13
km/s and presents a target more than 10 times the width of the earth! This
asteroid in the movie, the "Global Killer", was moving at an
unimpressive 22,000 MPH. That's only 10 km/s. Very slow by cosmic
standards. That means it was only 15 MILLION km away from earth at the
beginning of the movie. That is ONLY 40 times the distance to the moon! No
one saw this Texas-sized thing? C'mon!
Additionally, due to the
inverse square law of illumination (impressed with them big words?) the
relative brightness of this asteroid is about 16 times as much as Ceres!
Now, 3 times BIGGER than Ceres, 16 times BRIGHTER than Ceres, 18 times
CLOSER than Ceres (or is that Ceres is 18 times farther away?), and NO ONE
SEEN IT? C'MON! My Gramma could see it!
The whole idea of drilling
800 feet into an asteroid
the size of Texas
and setting off a
nuke is ridiculous at best. How far is 800 feet compared to the 1250 or so
Kilometers? That is less than one 5208th of the diameter! Less than a
fingernail thickness to you and me. All that does is tick it off MORE!
Think of getting a DNA molecule stuck under your fingernail and you dying from
it. Same thing, but different.
The new TWO shuttles take off
side-by-side! This would create such turbulence for each other they would
both lose control, not to mention the 2
one would have been
semi-vaporized and rocked right off it's pad. I saw a shuttle launch,
Mission 51D, in 1984. Oh, My! The power is way beyond words.
After take-off, the two
specially built shuttles jockey around like kids in 4-wheelers. A few
notes of wrongness before they make it to the Mir space station.
ALL THREE external
tanks are released at the same time AND simultaneously. As we all know,
the two white ones are dropped off within a minute or two of take-off
into the ocean to be picked up and reused. Their drop off is visible
while still in the atmosphere.
Both shuttles, while
approaching the Mir, bank into their turns like regular planes. Banking
is necessary only to create a differential of air friction on the wings
to aid turning. Since when is there air 400 km high near the Mir
Since when does the Mir have
vast amounts of Liquid Oxygen on board as a fueling station? About the
only thing they would have had a lot of is Duct Tape!
Since when can the Mir get
gravity to its floor by rotating? Rotation can simulate gravity only on
the inside surface of a rotating wheel like structure as shown in
A Space Odyssey
. Basic high school Physics problem...
Since when can a shuttle dock
with a rotating Mir. It's hard enough docking with a relatively stationary
Mir! According to NASA, that maneuver would have been impossible. Keep in
mind, BOTH these objects are moving at THOUSANDS of kilometers per hour with
The shuttles travel out past
the moon, a basic impossibility due to the physics involved with the
construction of the shuttle itself. Also, the gravitational slingshot
maneuver would be doubtful. Another basic high school Fizzix problem is to find
the one position between the Earth and the Moon where gravity from each would
"cancel out" and an astronaut could be considered "weightless" in this system,
yields the answer to be
MORE THAN 90%
of the distance to the moon! That means that till these shuttles get to within
"spitting" distance of the moon, the earth is still overpowering them and
"sucking" them back home...
These shuttles were described as "impervious". However, after crashlanding, Ben
Aflack shot the hell out of the wall of one of them with guns mounted on their
rover (Why are there guns in space??).
Note that while Bruce is trying to "pull the trigger" on the asteroid, it's
raining! SAY WHAT? HOW could is rain on this asteroid? Apparently it has its
own weather systems complete with atmosphere, water cycle, temperature
gradients, convection currents, and full gravity system all of a sudden that can pull the water back
to its surface. COOL!
Note during the movie as they
show reactions to the success of the mission in different parts of the
world, it is always day time. Gee, I guess the earth IS flat. It's day
time in US, Turkey, Moscow, India, Japan, all at the same time. Cool
trick. It's sorta that the Taj Majal and the US are on different sides?
And the "ever popular" on and
on and on
Visit Phil's BadAstronomy site for lots and