Sci-Fi Gets the Science Wrong

Written by: developer

Sci-Fi Gets the Science Wrong A lot of what you see in sci-fi movies is wrong! That’s one of the topics covered at Launch Pad, a NASA-funded workshop that educates fiction writers on real space science. Following are key points from attendee Ceclila Tan’s report on the class.

1. In space, you’d pop!
Actually, it takes two minutes to suffocate. You’ll have burst blood vessels in your eyes, and you might get some burst lung tissue, but you won’t explode.

2. If you get a hole in your hull, you’ll be instantly sucked out into the vacuum.
The force of the space vacuum isn’t strong enough to suck you through a bullet hole in the hull of your starship. At atmospheric pressure (14.7 pounds per square inch), the air inside the spacecarft would exert only about 180 lbs. of pressure.

3. In space, you’d freeze like an icicle!
Space is cold, but because it’s a vacuum there’s not much to radiate your heat away with. To get to the point where you would shatter, you’d have wait in space for about a thousand years.

4. The “point of no return” of a black hole could capture a starship.
It’s all fiction, anyway, but . . . the point of no return is the point at which ONLY something traveling faster than the speed of light could escape from the black hole. Guess what? All sci-fi starships travel faster than light.

5. Spaceship battles will be full of laser and explosions!
In a vacuum, you can’t hear explosions, even if you’re in a ship filled with air, because sound waves won’t travel through the vacuum to reach you. Likewise, even a laser won’t be seen unless there is particulate matter (like dust) for the beam to bounce off.

To see the full story, click here. To read about Launch Pad, click here.



This article is part of Space Watch: August 2010 (Volume: 9, Issue: 8).