Movie physics – the good and the bad

One of those “How did I get here?” sites I found recently is the Intuitor Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics page. The site covers a lot of the bad physics we see in movies, and then gives a brief review of the quality of the physics displayed in some recent movies. What kind of things are covered on the site? Well:

Flashing Bullets

The terrorist unleashes a lengthy burst of submachine gunfire as the hero runs along a gangway in an industrial plant. Bullets bounce everywhere. This would be a dramatic event for almost anyone, yet moviemakers feel it must be enhanced. The special effects representing impacting bullets give off bright flashes of light. Normal bullets, especially handgun bullets, do not.

. . .

Problems with Windows

No, we’re not referring to Bill Gates’s woes (or lack of them), but to the ways movie windows refuse to obey simple laws of physics. Apparently no one in Hollywood has ever picked up a piece of broken glass and suffered the inevitable bloodied finger.

Saying that shards of broken glass are razor sharp is an understatement. A shattered window contains thousands of incredibly sharp edges and dagger-like points. It takes almost no force for one of these points or edges to cause a laceration. However, people in movies routinely jump through plate glass windows without receiving a single scratch.

All told, there are nearly a dozen descriptions of bad physics in movies, and the reality behind the false portrayals. My favorite, which has a few simple diagrams that show the Hollywood and the reality behind it, is the issue of lasers.

Visible Laserbeams
From security systems to space adventures, conveniently-visible laserbeams are a common part of our movie experience. Too bad they often don’t reflect reality.

Multi-beamed laser security systems are a frequent Hollywood plot device. Again and again movies feature tension-filled scenes in which characters snake their way through mazes of laserbeams artistically arranged in random patterns by professional security fools to entertain us by making would-be thieves do contortions. A simple arrangement of closely-spaced parallel beams would be contortion-proof but certainly not as much fun.

[tags]Physics, Movies[/tags]

Dry ice in your mouth

I’m on a bit of a retro kick, I suppose. This post at Modern Mechanix highlights a device made so an actor’s breath would show up while filming scenes that were supposed to take place in a cold location. This was done waaaaaay back in 1934, even. Hey, it sounds neat. But I’m just too much of a paranoid freak to actually try it. Why? Well, see how it works:

Motion pictures of winter scenes may be made realistic by a device that makes the actors’ breath visible, just as it would be at low temperatures. The device resembles false teeth. It enables the actors to keep Dry Ice in their mouths without harmful results. The warm breath causes the Dry Ice to give off vapor not unlike that produced by persons breathing in cold weather. The device does not interfere with speech.

I’m kinda funny about not putting dry ice in my mouth. Call me crazy, but that’s just something I don’t do.

[tags]Modern Mechanix, Dry Ice[/tags]

Sometimes, you are just born too late

According to this post at Modern Mechanix, I was born just a couple of decades too late.  Being born in 1970, I missed out on my chance to get a high-paying career going in guided missile automation.  The July 1957 issue of Popular Electronics has the following details:

Outstanding Employment Opportunities Open to Central Graduates!

No matter what you’re doing now . . . whether you’ve ever had previous technical experience or not, you can begin right now to prepare for a great career in these fascinating, rewarding fields!

Capitalize on the fact that Central’s nationally recognized, proven training methods, top instructors and long record of educational achievement have put Central-trained men in high demand throughout America! . . . that Central’s graduates are periodically interviewed and employed by many of the Country’s foremost industrial giants and leading employers of electronics specialists. Hundreds of radio and TV stations look to Central as a reliable source for competent, thoroughly trained technicians . . . and the nation’s major airlines and aircraft manufacturers have hired hundreds of Central-trained technicians for important communications and electronics positions.

So instead of making my riches blowing stuff up, I have to make my money keeping computer systems running.  I like what I do for a living, but it would be way cooler to make missiles work.

[tags]Missiles, blow stuff up[/tags]

Batwoman and I share a common interest

batwoman.jpgJust got notice of this from a cow-orker. DC Comics has deciced to bring back the Batwoman character. She’ll show up in July as part of an ongoing weekly series. Upon reading the article, folks will probably notice:

The 5-foot-10 superhero comes with flowing red hair, knee-high red boots with spiked heels, and a form-fitting black outfit.

Naturally, some will think that’s the common interest she and I share. But the truth is deeper. Batwoman, reborn after the death of the original in 1979, is coming back as a lesbian. So our common interest is a great appreciation of hot chicks.

DC Comics is resurrecting the classic comic book character as a lesbian, unveiling the new Batwoman in July as part of an ongoing weekly series that began this year.

. . .

The original Batwoman was started in 1956, and killed off in 1979. The new character will share the same name as her original alter ego, Kathy Kane. And the new Batwoman arrives with ties to others in the Gotham City world.

“She’s a socialite from Gotham high society,” DiDio said. “She has some past connection with Bruce Wayne. And she’s also had a past love affair with one of our lead characters, Renee Montoya.”

Montoya, in the “52” comic book series, is a former police detective.

The folks at DC have asked that people wait until the character is seen in the series to pass judgement, though. They are saying this is part of an effort to provide more diversity to their superhero universe. I guess we’ll have to wait a few more weeks to see how the public receives the new character. Personally, as long as she is a great hero, I’m not that concerned with her bedroom preferences. That is, unless they make a pr0no with her and release it for fans’ viewing pleasure – I’m totally downloading the video if that ever happens.

[tags]DC Comics, Batwoman, Lesbian superhero[/tags]