disasters The 23 Most Idiotic Bad-Science Moments in Disaster Movies

1.5k votes 84k views 24 items Embed

List Rules Only disaster movie science -- geology, astronomy, meteorology, physics, etc.

Hollywood has no time for science! It's too slow/too fast, too dangerous/too benign, and mostly too complicated to be bothered with on the big screen. Disaster movies are the worst offenders of them all.

If you have your fave bad-science moments in any disaster film at all, add it! I want more! MORE! 
1
+ - 90 17

You Can Survive the Blast of a SuperVolcano


You Can Survive the Blast of a... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 23 Most Idiotic Bad-Science Moments in Disaster Movies
Photo: user uploaded image
The Yellowstone super volcano has previously erupted three times with a force up 2,500 times of Mount St. Helens... an eruption that generated a blast equal to 27,000 Hiroshima-sized nuclear weapons. This yellowstone eruption of the past covered almost all of the current U.S. in ash.


Now, let's sit back together, steeple our fingers thoughtfully and remember how John Cusack stood there with his kid and watched as the Caldera in 2012 blew. Not only did the force of the blast not completely liquify the pair of them, but they weren't even deafened. Or blinded.


Fun fact: RVs can outrun the blast radius of an Extinction Level Event like this. I bet your grandpa feels much more justified in his retirement purchase now.

2
+ - 92 22

Lava's Not Really That Hot


Lava's Not Really That Hot is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 23 Most Idiotic Bad-Science Moments in Disaster Movies
Photo: user uploaded image
Ha ha, oh Lava. That? No problem. If you have watched Volcano or Dante's Peak, you know you can totally hang out behind the safety of concrete construction barricades and have a coffee. Or climb out over it on a ladder. It might make you sweat or something. But it's not like its around 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Sure, people can collapse from heat exhaustion when it hits 120 degrees, but lava is different. Apparently. Did you know you can drive over it and only get some popped tires? Pierce Brosnan did it, so can you! 
3
+ - 77 23

You Can Outrun Cold Temperatures


You Can Outrun Cold Temperatur... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 23 Most Idiotic Bad-Science Moments in Disaster Movies
Photo: user uploaded image
Say, for example, there's this magic super storm and the "eye" of it is sucking air out of the chilly troposphere. Well, supposedly if you were in that "eye," it would get really cold. Because the Troposphere reaches temps of 60 degrees F (OMG! I need a light sweater!) to -60 degrees F at the coldest. Apparently, that's like liquid nitrogen or something. Don't tell the folks who live in Alaska.

Even if 60 degrees were actually THAT cold, it turns out that molecules of air compress as they come down, which would mean they would warm adiabatically. The air molecules are closer together nearer to Earth because of this thing called "gravity." More densely populated molecules means more kinetic energy, which means warmth. So... there's that.

Sure, the magic science of the Day After Tomorrow tells us that "the air is descending too fast to warm up," but that's hilariously stupid. That's like saying the laws of physics are just a suggestion. A guideline, if you will. This is like saying that "speed" beats all natural laws. Kind of like how, if you run fast enough, you can outrun air.

P.S. A couple of wooden doors will stop that magic science air "cold" in its tracks. Haha... see what I did there?
4
+ - 71 21

Earthquake Cracks Think They're People


Earthquake Cracks Think They&#... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 23 Most Idiotic Bad-Science Moments in Disaster Movies
Photo: user uploaded image
I guess some earthquakes are sentient? And hold grudges? How else do you explain their uncanny ability to sense a moving vehicle or running person and follow just behind them? 

Not only do these Krazy Kracks do vengeful stuff like chase people, but in real life they just don't really happen like that. Earthquake movies like 10.5 and San Andreas are big fans of monstrous cracks opening up so cars and people and stuff can fall in... but in the case of a strike-slip fault (like the San Andreas) these things don't happen. The two sides of the fault are scraping against each other in opposite directions - - the friction is what causes the shaking. If the earth pulled apart like in the photo above there would be no friction. And no shaking. But it remains the go-to visual for hollywood when they want to depict earthquakes.

There are divergent plate boundaries that pull away from each other, but these are slow movements that occur where continental plates meet and create massive rift valleys. Like in Africa and in the middle of the Atlantic. 
5
+ - 68 21

Pyroclastic Clouds Just Aren't That Fast


Pyroclastic Clouds Just Aren't... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The 23 Most Idiotic Bad-Science Moments in Disaster Movies
Photo: user uploaded image
Look out! There's a super-heated, dense, gas and ash cloud that can reach up to 1,900 Fahrenheit headed your way. 
 
Don't worry... take your time to gawk at it because you can totally get away in time. It can only travel at about 450 miles per hour. So any old RV or beat-up pickup truck can do that, easy. Or, you know, you can probably make it on foot if you're carrying an injured friend or relative. You'll be fine. 


Maybe there's a rock or something you can get behind?
6
+ - 69 22

You Can Totally Breathe Poisonous Toxic Ash


You Can Totally Breathe Poison... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The 23 Most Idiotic Bad-Science Moments in Disaster Movies
Photo: user uploaded image
In both Volcano and Dante's Peak, the highly toxic, extremely hot, and fine ash looks suspiciously like fluffy, happy snow. All idyllic and gently floating around in big puffy flakes. It, surprisingly, doesn't corrode or pit the windshields of the cars or... you know... 


...kill all the people breathing what is essentially microscopic shards of glass into their lungs with internal hemorrhaging. 

7
+ - 61 18

Suspension Bridges Ignore Physics


Suspension Bridges Ignore Phys... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The 23 Most Idiotic Bad-Science Moments in Disaster Movies
Photo: user uploaded image
Ha ha... sorry, this is a total science-nerd one. But seriously. 

Look at the image here. See the tower on the bridge after the magic microwaves "break through" the Earth's magnetic field (pssst...microwaves can already pass through the magnetic field)? The middle of the Golden Gate Bridge is destroyed and the suspension towers, for some reason, are bending inwards as if the cables in the middle were pushing the two towers apart. 

Fun game for at home: get a rope and two friends. Each of you stand on either side of the rope and pull like you are playing tug-of-war. This is how a suspension bridge works. Now, get another friend to cut the middle of the rope. Do you fall forward when that happens? Or backward? 
Ha ha, you fell down.
8
+ - 61 19

You Can Survive Intense Heat and Pressure


You Can Survive Intense Heat a... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The 23 Most Idiotic Bad-Science Moments in Disaster Movies
Photo: user uploaded image
Gotta go outside to fix something when you find yourself near the Earth's core? No prob, the outer core fluid is only 9,000°F (4,982°C). Also, turns out you already know (and say out loud) that the suit you have to wear can withstand only half that temperature. That's like walking outside in 4,500 degrees. 


Maybe you'd think that was kind of a bad idea, but it turns out that, sure, your shoes will melt and your glasses will break. And you're gonna light up like a light bulb (for some reason)... but you will still have a few minutes to fix the problem before you die. 


So, it's fine then.