Deep Impact

Deep Impact

Well, where should I start? My Buddy, Phil Plaitt, author / astronomer / professor / all-round good guy, disagrees with me on this movie. He thought it was good. I thought it was the worst thing I've seen since Bud Dry! (By the by, visit Phil's site The Bad Astronomer for fabulous insight into the errors we all are confronted with pertaining to astronomy. GREAT site.)

Overview : Basic premise is same as Armageddon's. Previously undiscovered comet is streaking toward the earth and we're all gonna die. Other than this being a distinct possibility, just about everything else is bad. A teenager discovers this comet. A year later, the government learns of its existence. Government sets up a "invitation only" community inside a mountain. Basic mayhem and mass rioting takes place. Astronauts are dispatched to blow it up. Fail. We all die. (Actually, if everyone did die at the end of this movie, it would've made me happier.
Now for an overview of the BAD things I noticed and show my own Fizzix classes.


  1. Right away, there is a bad bad thing. There is an astronomy "class" or club meeting at night with kids looking through various telescopes. The kids and the instructor are using flashlights to refer to star / sky maps then immediately refocusing into the telescopes. Did you ever look up at a clear night sky after looking at oncoming headlights? (Nothing I'd suggest on a regular basis, but considerably safer than applying make-up while rolling down I-95 at 80 MPH...) Eyes need a little time to switch from absorbing LOTS of light to searching for minimal light. They NEVER would have done that.
    A few comments about this section of the film:
    1. Biderman, the Kid Hero, sees an unidentifiable object in his telescope. The "teacher" says, "It's probably a satellite. Take a picture. Send it to Dr. Wolf." WELL! What kind of teacher is this? A satellite is dissernable even to an amateur like moi.

  2. Upon receiving the picture Biderman took, Dr. Wolf feeds in the coordinates and zooms in on the little guy (comet). Then this amazing computer cranks out the comet's trajectory and predicts imminent collision with earth. WOW! This sorta defies everything I teach my kids about vectors. How, from one still photo, can a full path be determined. One still photo! Is it moving toward? Away? Parallel to us? Speed? C'MON!

  3. Silly Hollywood plotting: Dr. Wolfe dies in a terrible crash while driving like an idiot down the mountain trail from his observatory and trying to dial his cell phone. He collided with a speeding 18-wheeler flying UP this trail (Why was an 18-wheeler speeding UP a mountain trail?) when the truck driver dropped a lite cigarette in his lap. Somehow, the government, a whole year later, thinks there were TWO astronomers killed in that Jeep! I know our government messes up from time to time, we all do. However, they can't be that stupid!

  4. Later as the President of the US, played with usual excellence by Morgan Freeman, explains to the public via TV, he shows a graphic of the comet's trajectory. If you actually watch it, the comet comes into our solar system from somewhere far far away. Nothing bad there. They do come from the Oort Cloud which is located even farther away than Utah. However, after it gets into the inner planet area, it turns BEFORE getting to the sun and starts heading back out. ALL orbiting things in this system orbit the SUN, not the earth. It should have gone around the Sun since the Sun MUST be at one of its foci.

  5. The President's description of the damage is mostly OK. EXCEPT for his use of the term "tidal wave". This may be picky, but a tidal wave NEVER killed anyone. And if it has, that had to be the slowest person ever and they deserved to drown. A tidal "wave" has a frequency of 12 hours! It is defined as the varying depths of oceans and/or waterways caused by tides. What MOST people mean to say is the dreaded 'tsunami".

  6. Very NICE point; Prez says the 1st piece (By now blown into 2 pieces by our astronaut heros led by veteran ) will hit the Atlantic Ocean and the 2nd piece will hit a few hours later in Western Canada. Why? The rotation of the earth, that's why! Good touch by some smart writer.

  7. The smaller piece does many incredible BAD things on it's way in.
    1. It enters the atmosphere with a sudden "BANG", bursting into flames. This indicates the atmosphere has a specific 'hard' boundary. It doesn't. The comet would have heated up gradually.
    2. Once in the atmosphere, it moves awefully slowly. It should move considerably faster than sound.
    3. Upon impact with the Atlantic Ocean, a tremendous shockwave is seen eminating from ground zero. This shockwave would have wiped out most life way before the ensuing tsunami arrived.
    4. The ANGLE of it's entrance was so slight (or so LARGE if measured from the normal...) it probably, in my esteemed opinion, would have glanced off the atmosphere and never entered. This stuff happens all the time with lesser rocks.
    5. The Prez stated, correctly, that the tsunami would have traveled faster than sound toward the shoreline. Then how come we heard it coming all the way in?

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