Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Movies

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Frankenstein
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Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Movies

Postby Frankenstein » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:05 am UTC

The LIST so far:

  1. *insert crickets noise here*
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Hi there ladies and gentlemen.

I can't enjoy movies that are physically flawed. I know I'm gonna be bashed for saying this but I couldn't enjoy the popular science fiction franchises when I was a child because of such flaws. I'm not talking about explaining in-depth all the stuff in the movie, I'm talking about respecting the three Newton's laws. Examples:

- A spaceship stops when its engine burns out, I know in certain situations this could be plausible, but not in the way the movies show (No inertia, 1st law).
- When people are hit by ordinary 'portable gun' bullets, they fly backwards 10m (3rd law - the shooter should also fly... besides being simply ridiculous).

These are just 2 examples, but I hope you get my point (I'm not even mentioning laser guns/artificial gravity, because I'm too young to die). So, I would like to make a list of 'physically possible' movies in which the physics laws aren't so shamefully broken. I'm only considering Scifi and(/or) Action movies because their whole point has something to do with physics, in case of Scifi there's the technology of the future, which hopefully should still obey the laws of physics :lol:, and action movies are all about exploding stuff (no, cars don't explode like that AND that easily!) and sending enemies into physically defying (!breaking) necrobatics :lol:. Of course I don't expect a drama movie with a single shot fired to have perfect physical reproduction (but why not?), and of course other genres are welcome as long as the physics plays an important role in the whole shebang AND the movie takes itself seriously.

So please, contribute to the list!

Let me start with my contribution... well, I don't remember '2001 - A Space Odyssey' very well, but I think it was quite believable, I'm not going to add that to the list until someone else confirms that though. I also used to watch a lot of war movies when I was a child but I wasn't so picky on physics so I can't tell...
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Angua » Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:54 pm UTC

Gravity was supposed to not be too bad but you could check CinemaSins as they did the gravity one with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. So that should point out the mistakes.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby PolakoVoador » Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:04 pm UTC

Gattaca, maybe?

I suggest a look at Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness [WARNING! TvTropes link]

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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Frankenstein » Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:01 pm UTC

Angua wrote:Gravity was supposed to not be too bad but you could check CinemaSins as they did the gravity one with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. So that should point out the mistakes.

Thanks, but I heard Gravity is full of scientific inconsistencies and flaws...

PolakoVoador wrote:Gattaca, maybe?

I suggest a look at Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness [WARNING! TvTropes link]

Gat..what? Lemme google that. Thanks.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Angua » Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:45 pm UTC

Frankenstein wrote:
Angua wrote:Gravity was supposed to not be too bad but you could check CinemaSins as they did the gravity one with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. So that should point out the mistakes.

Thanks, but I heard Gravity is full of scientific inconsistencies and flaws...

Maybe, but I only counted 4 'flaws' that Neil DeGrasse Tyson mentioned that are actually physics -2 of those about the heights of varying space objects, and one about the fact that the debris is going the wrong way (the other was that her hair wasn't floating, which was a pretty big oversight). He enjoyed the film.

Personally, I don't think Gattaca was that believable from the whole phenotype vs genotype perspective, but there you go. It's been a while since I've seen it otherwise.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Frankenstein » Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:27 pm UTC

Angua wrote:
[url]Frankenstein[/url] wrote:
Angua wrote:Gravity was supposed to not be too bad but you could check CinemaSins as they did the gravity one with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. So that should point out the mistakes.

Thanks, but I heard Gravity is full of scientific inconsistencies and flaws...

Maybe, but I only counted 4 'flaws' that Neil DeGrasse Tyson mentioned that are actually physics -2 of those about the heights of varying space objects, and one about the fact that the debris is going the wrong way (the other was that her hair wasn't floating, which was a pretty big oversight). He enjoyed the film.

Personally, I don't think Gattaca was that believable from the whole phenotype vs genotype perspective, but there you go. It's been a while since I've seen it otherwise.


Well, I heard that in Gravity people go back and forth between orbiting bodies at different heights and inclinations with their mmus... that sounds pretty ridiculous to me.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Angua » Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:48 pm UTC

No, the movie just seems to mistake everything for being at the same height. Maybe not realistic for our reality, but works if people had decided to make all the space stations level.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:11 pm UTC

Angua wrote:No, the movie just seems to mistake everything for being at the same height. Maybe not realistic for our reality, but works if people had decided to make all the space stations level.


I've not done any calculations to back it up, but my immediate intuition is that putting all the space stations at the same altitude, unless they're also spaced around the same orbit, would give worse instability than having them at different heights with different periods...

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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Frankenstein » Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:34 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Angua wrote:No, the movie just seems to mistake everything for being at the same height. Maybe not realistic for our reality, but works if people had decided to make all the space stations level.


I've not done any calculations to back it up, but my immediate intuition is that putting all the space stations at the same altitude, unless they're also spaced around the same orbit, would give worse instability than having them at different heights with different periods...


Well. The whole thing doesn't make any sense. Why would you have various independent objects orbiting parallel to each other, especially when you need to travel between them? I mean, obviously it is 'physically possible' to have that, but it's dumb.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:40 pm UTC

And you wouldn't really get between each one by thrusting 'towards' it.

The easiest way of explaining how the few hours of putputting along got them to a different station may have worked is that George Clooney is really good at calculating exactly how to do a Hohmann transfer, and is omniscient to boot. Though I'm not sure why he basically thrust the whole way there.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Frankenstein » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:19 pm UTC

Any thoughts on war movies like The Private Ryan and such?
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Zcorp » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:55 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:And you wouldn't really get between each one by thrusting 'towards' it.

The easiest way of explaining how the few hours of putputting along got them to a different station may have worked is that George Clooney is really good at calculating exactly how to do a Hohmann transfer, and is omniscient to boot. Though I'm not sure why he basically thrust the whole way there.

Yeah, the location of the stations is IMO the lesser of evils of what they did wrong. Nearly all of the personal drama comes from the writers not understanding, or at least not displaying understanding, of what a 0 G environment would be like.

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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Frankenstein » Thu Jan 08, 2015 12:03 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:the writers not understanding.

Yeah, judging by the recent movies, I'd say most writers are either pretty dumb, or they think they're wise enough about everything.
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Have you ever watched a Jackie Chan movie from the time when he was not that famous? Besides being kinda ridiculous, they are simply brilliant. The performance is absolutely stunning, well-synched and very creative. When he became famous though, and started working for the American industry, the directors ruined his style, with lots of camera changing and cutting out the hits, it was an enormous downgrade.

Overall, the people working in Hollywood don't have a clue.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Jan 08, 2015 12:13 am UTC

My general relativity lecturer told me (and everyone else in the lecture) to go and see Interstellar. I still haven't seen it, but from what I gather, the first 2/3 or so is pretty much spot on and features some genuine research-level GR simulations (hollywood has a lot more money to chuck at these things than research institutes do) but that the last act or so is pretty ridiculous. This seems to line up with what I've heard from other people.

As for gravity, I enjoyed it (as a 3rd year undergrad physicist). It was very pretty and most of the mistakes can be moreorless written off if you're happy with the various space stations all being in odd orbits. Sure it's not very plausible that they'd put the stations there or that stuff would happen at the right time for it all to be possible, but the actual physics itself generally isn't tooo bad.

Other than that, 2001 is pretty good, it follows newton's laws pretty well and the ships are all fairly sensibly designed for their purposes. Of course, it's got the trippy bit at the end, but, well, that's just clarke's third law really. Nothing else particularly springs to mind (mostly because hard sci-fi in space really wouldn't be very cinematic unless you pretty much completely ignore the space and just use the ship as the entire setting as I believe silent running does).
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Frankenstein » Thu Jan 08, 2015 5:05 am UTC

eSOANEM wrote:My general relativity lecturer told me (and everyone else in the lecture) to go and see Interstellar. I still haven't seen it, but from what I gather, the first 2/3 or so is pretty much spot on and features some genuine research-level GR simulations (hollywood has a lot more money to chuck at these things than research institutes do) but that the last act or so is pretty ridiculous. This seems to line up with what I've heard from other people.

As for gravity, I enjoyed it (as a 3rd year undergrad physicist). It was very pretty and most of the mistakes can be moreorless written off if you're happy with the various space stations all being in odd orbits. Sure it's not very plausible that they'd put the stations there or that stuff would happen at the right time for it all to be possible, but the actual physics itself generally isn't tooo bad.

Other than that, 2001 is pretty good, it follows newton's laws pretty well and the ships are all fairly sensibly designed for their purposes. Of course, it's got the trippy bit at the end, but, well, that's just clarke's third law really. Nothing else particularly springs to mind (mostly because hard sci-fi in space really wouldn't be very cinematic unless you pretty much completely ignore the space and just use the ship as the entire setting as I believe silent running does).


Thank you for the recommendations.

I definitely don't want to watch only 2/3 of a movie, so that's a no for Interstellar 8-). I'm seriously thinking about giving gravity a go if nothing better shows up soon... or perhaps I'm just going to watch 2001 again, I don't remember the plot so I think that's going to be interesting. Sometimes it pays off to have bad memory :) You can enjoy good movies more than once. Silent running seems pretty nice too.

I think the beautiful of Scifi is exactly the challenge of making interesting movies in a believable future. It's just too easy to attract the masses with lasers of all kinds zapping through the screen and fantastic explosions and cute robots, but to attract people to an intelligent movie, you need a real masterpiece. I think 2001 was that movie back then, however, it seems to be the one and only.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby ahammel » Thu Jan 08, 2015 5:07 am UTC

Frankenstein wrote:I think 2001 was that movie back then, however, it seems to be the one and only.

2001 has FTL travel.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Jan 08, 2015 6:26 am UTC

Tenga Toppa Gurren Lagan.

Spoiler:
Image

Final mech battle. The mechs were 10 million light years tall, standing on opposite sides of a galaxy. A few seconds later, the mechs punch each other in the face, like any good ol' anime mech fight. It wasn't even the final form. The Movies had the good guy's mech grow to 52.8 Billion Light Years tall. Before you ask... yes, they flung smaller galaxies like ninja-stars at each other. One of them blasted an energy beam containing the full power of the Big Bang at the other. Physics... obviously works like that. Duh.


Oh wait, possible? Where's the fun in that? The fun is in impossible stories, lol.

------------

"Realistic Scifi" to me... usually puts me towards Asimovian SciFi with Androids. Outside of magic AI tech from the future, I think the stories contained in Asimov tend to be quite realistic. I don't know if I'd call Bicentenial Man (the movie) a realistic movie per se. But perhaps... more real... than other android movies. I saw a list online that includes Gattaca (which... I don't really see as realistic), and Jurassic Park (which... actually seemed realistic. If you ignore all the dumb people's mistakes, and the hyper-intelligence of the raptors).

I know I started this post with a joke-response with Anime. But people tell me that the Space Anime "Planetes" is the most realistic sci-fi anime. It dramatizes the Kessler Effect, and the difficulties of cleaning up low-earth Orbit after a theoretical crazy accident in the year 2075ish.

After all, you can't launch spacecraft if the Kessler Effect is in ... erm... effect. It'd be too dangerous. Solution: you send people on dangerous missions to clean that crap up! An interesting space story idea methinks.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby danielcw » Thu Jan 08, 2015 9:39 am UTC

Frankenstein wrote:
Zcorp wrote:the writers not understanding.

Yeah, judging by the recent movies, I'd say most writers are either pretty dumb, or they think they're wise enough about everything.


Neither!
Deciding to ignore physics to improve storytelling is probably not wise but defintely not dumb.

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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:41 am UTC

Frankenstein wrote:
Thank you for the recommendations.

I definitely don't want to watch only 2/3 of a movie, so that's a no for Interstellar 8-). I'm seriously thinking about giving gravity a go if nothing better shows up soon... or perhaps I'm just going to watch 2001 again, I don't remember the plot so I think that's going to be interesting. Sometimes it pays off to have bad memory :) You can enjoy good movies more than once. Silent running seems pretty nice too.

I think the beautiful of Scifi is exactly the challenge of making interesting movies in a believable future. It's just too easy to attract the masses with lasers of all kinds zapping through the screen and fantastic explosions and cute robots, but to attract people to an intelligent movie, you need a real masterpiece. I think 2001 was that movie back then, however, it seems to be the one and only.


Oh no, he was saying we should watch the whole thing, just that only the first 2/3 was properly hard.

ahammel wrote:
Frankenstein wrote:I think 2001 was that movie back then, however, it seems to be the one and only.

2001 has FTL travel.


I'm not entirely sure that's fair. Everything in it's STL with the possible exception of the beyond-the-infinite sequence at the end (but it's not clear what's actually going on there so it may not be FTL).
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby PolakoVoador » Thu Jan 08, 2015 2:32 pm UTC

Frankenstein wrote:
Angua wrote:Gravity was supposed to not be too bad but you could check CinemaSins as they did the gravity one with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. So that should point out the mistakes.

Thanks, but I heard Gravity is full of scientific inconsistencies and flaws...

PolakoVoador wrote:Gattaca, maybe?

I suggest a look at Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness [WARNING! TvTropes link]

Gat..what? Lemme google that. Thanks.


Gattaca is about a future where people can pay to select genetic characteristics of their children. Those who are born from natural conception are regarded as a lesser type of people. It's been a while since I watched it, so I'm not sure about the hardness of all the science in it.

It seems to me you will have a hard time making this list anything resembling "BIG". Just remember that entertainment in general runs on Rule of Cool, Rule of Scary, etc.

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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Frankenstein » Thu Jan 08, 2015 3:33 pm UTC

Holy sh*t, The party started while I was in the WC! Thanks guys!

ahammel wrote:
Frankenstein wrote:I think 2001 was that movie back then, however, it seems to be the one and only.

2001 has FTL travel.

Well, I wouldn't say men will never be able to travel FTL... I mean obviously it's gonna take many years (thousands? millions? who knows!) and I'm pretty sure it's impossible to accelerate an object to relativistic speeds, but to actually reach point B from point A FTL seems plausible. I mean, you can always take a shortcut :P. Take THAT, light! Your mother is so fat she can't travel in any media other than vacuum!

KnightExemplar wrote:Oh wait, possible? Where's the fun in that? The fun is in impossible stories, lol.

danielcw wrote:Deciding to ignore physics to improve storytelling is probably not wise but defintely not dumb.

Well, to tell the truth, I was talking mostly about the stuff that is too obviously wrong. That's why I've mentioned the Newton's laws, because they are almost universally and intuitively expected to happen, I mean, when most people see someone flying after being hit by a handgun while the shooter is standing in place perfectly, everyone was expecting to see either the shooter flying or the victim not flying. People recognize something is very wrong intuitively, they just don't leave the theater because they are used to tolerating that kind of ridiculous. I am not willing to tolerate that though. Life is too short.

PolakoVoador wrote:It seems to me you will have a hard time making this list anything resembling "BIG".

My life... is ruined. :lol:
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby ahammel » Fri Jan 09, 2015 1:21 am UTC

Frankenstein wrote:
ahammel wrote:
Frankenstein wrote:I think 2001 was that movie back then, however, it seems to be the one and only.

2001 has FTL travel.

Well, I wouldn't say men will never be able to travel FTL... I mean obviously it's gonna take many years (thousands? millions? who knows!) and I'm pretty sure it's impossible to accelerate an object to relativistic speeds, but to actually reach point B from point A FTL seems plausible. I mean, you can always take a shortcut :P. Take THAT, light! Your mother is so fat she can't travel in any media other than vacuum!

Then I don't know what you're asking. If FTL travel isn't impossible then nothing is.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Frankenstein » Fri Jan 09, 2015 1:30 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:
Frankenstein wrote:
ahammel wrote:
Frankenstein wrote:I think 2001 was that movie back then, however, it seems to be the one and only.

2001 has FTL travel.

Well, I wouldn't say men will never be able to travel FTL... I mean obviously it's gonna take many years (thousands? millions? who knows!) and I'm pretty sure it's impossible to accelerate an object to relativistic speeds, but to actually reach point B from point A FTL seems plausible. I mean, you can always take a shortcut :P. Take THAT, light! Your mother is so fat she can't travel in any media other than vacuum!

Then I don't know what you're asking. If FTL travel isn't impossible then nothing is.

Have you actually read what I wrote? I'm pretty sure Einstein, Rosen, and even Hawking :P would agree with that.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby New User » Sat Jan 10, 2015 10:48 pm UTC

Frankenstein wrote:Any thoughts on war movies like The Private Ryan and such?

I am no expert, and I guess I haven't really watched a hell of a lot of war movies. I'm sure some things are exaggerated in them but as a whole I think most modern war films are far more realistic than sci-fi films.

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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby speising » Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:07 pm UTC

Frankenstein wrote:
ahammel wrote:
Frankenstein wrote:
ahammel wrote:
Frankenstein wrote:I think 2001 was that movie back then, however, it seems to be the one and only.

2001 has FTL travel.

Well, I wouldn't say men will never be able to travel FTL... I mean obviously it's gonna take many years (thousands? millions? who knows!) and I'm pretty sure it's impossible to accelerate an object to relativistic speeds, but to actually reach point B from point A FTL seems plausible. I mean, you can always take a shortcut :P. Take THAT, light! Your mother is so fat she can't travel in any media other than vacuum!

Then I don't know what you're asking. If FTL travel isn't impossible then nothing is.

Have you actually read what I wrote? I'm pretty sure Einstein, Rosen, and even Hawking :P would agree with that.

unfortunately, they all would agree that *any* form of getting from A to B faster than light would allow causality violations. which is considered inconvenient.

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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Angua » Sun Jan 11, 2015 10:52 am UTC

Contagion was pretty realistic.

I found it pretty boring, mainly because I knew what was going to happen because it was too realistic.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Zarq » Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:17 am UTC

speising wrote:
Frankenstein wrote:
ahammel wrote:
Frankenstein wrote:
ahammel wrote:
Frankenstein wrote:I think 2001 was that movie back then, however, it seems to be the one and only.

2001 has FTL travel.

Well, I wouldn't say men will never be able to travel FTL... I mean obviously it's gonna take many years (thousands? millions? who knows!) and I'm pretty sure it's impossible to accelerate an object to relativistic speeds, but to actually reach point B from point A FTL seems plausible. I mean, you can always take a shortcut :P. Take THAT, light! Your mother is so fat she can't travel in any media other than vacuum!

Then I don't know what you're asking. If FTL travel isn't impossible then nothing is.

Have you actually read what I wrote? I'm pretty sure Einstein, Rosen, and even Hawking :P would agree with that.

unfortunately, they all would agree that *any* form of getting from A to B faster than light would allow causality violations. which is considered inconvenient.


I think he's talking about worm holes. It's not technically FTL (since light can take the wormhole too), but it's close.

Also, the latter third of Interstellar isn't wrong. It also isn't right. It's unknowable. The first 2/3 is hard scifi, the latter third is philosophy.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:09 am UTC

Disclaimer: I haven't actually seen interstellar so this is all based on what I remember reading at the time.

We actually know a lot about how wormholes would behave if they exist. We know the purely relativistic equations for them and some people have even managed to calculate first order quantum corrections (under certain assumptions). The quantum corrections grow to infinity if you move the two ends in such a way that time travel would become possible such that a wormhole which was initially causal could never become able to allow time travel and one which initially allowed time travel would either be unstable and decay away or have its end points move such that time travel became impossible.

The geometry of GR also requires that, if time travel is possible, it must be self-consistent (adding branch cuts to the geometry may be possible but would put additional restrictions on the behaviour of the system and make everything messier in a way that doesn't seem very plausible).

Also, once we know the pure relativistic solution, it's pretty easy to calculate what someone moving with any velocity at any point (e.g. falling into a wormhole) would see.

So none of it's really unknowable; just very complicated and, well, frankly, the spoilers would require implausibly specific changes to the laws of physics. The last bit really is implausible.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Zarq » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:31 pm UTC

Spoiler:
The end isn't in a worm hole, but a black hole.
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:32 pm UTC

Ah, fair enough then. An infalling observer would definitely reach points where the physics we know is insufficient to determine what would happen.
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Tyndmyr
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Re: Help The BIG LIST of Physically Possible Scifi/Action Mo

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:14 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:My general relativity lecturer told me (and everyone else in the lecture) to go and see Interstellar. I still haven't seen it, but from what I gather, the first 2/3 or so is pretty much spot on and features some genuine research-level GR simulations (hollywood has a lot more money to chuck at these things than research institutes do) but that the last act or so is pretty ridiculous. This seems to line up with what I've heard from other people.


It's about on par with 2001. In part because it's clearly a homage to that.

Yes, this means the ending involves some major ass-pulling. Worth a watch, tho.

I don't demand a movie be entirely possible. I just want it to be mostly plausible/consistant. If you want a lovely example of a sci-fi movie that utterly fails at this, go and take a gander at In Time. This gets squarely into "so bad it's good" territory, where you have an actually interesting idea wrapped in hilarious terrible, so you and your buds can gleefully make a drinking game out of it or snark at the movie as it goes. I suggest taking a shot every time they call something a "time <noun>".


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