We've come to accept, as an audience, that there's going to be inaccurate science in movies. Movies aren't nerds, after all, so why waste time on believable computer hacking when John McClane has some 'splodin to do? However, we do expect a little more from science fiction. It's got "science" right in the name! But if anything, some of the worst science in sci-fi movies stands head and shoulders above the rest of cinema.
From Robinson Crusoe On Mars to Prometheus, there are myriad sci-fi movies with terrible science. After only cursory examination, even the most "scientifically accurate" sci-fi movies have massive problems when you compare them to reality. And thanks to new scientific breakthroughs, films that seemed completely in line with scientific facts when they were released were later revealed to be utterly ludicrous.
The list covers the bad science in science fiction movies you see over and over again. Explosive decompression, sound in space, and the proper use of bombs are just some of the things science fiction movies seemingly refuse to get right. Let's find out the rest.
What Happens In The Movie: Sound travels in space – so much so that people on a ship have to be quiet or another ship will hear them. Pretty much every sci-fi movie features this, but Wing Commander makes it a plot point.
Why It’s Ridiculous: While sound technically can travel in the vacuum of space, it's completely inaudible to human beings. Sound can only move through space in particularly dense interstellar gas, and it definitely wouldn't breach the walls of a space ship.
What Should Have Happened: Everyone on that ship could have talked as loud as they wanted, since there was no way for that sound to travel to another space ship.
Directed by: Chris Roberts
What Happens In The Movie: Any time someone goes out in the surface of Mars without a space suit, they expand like they’re about to blow up. Many other movies are guilty of this trick.
Why It’s Ridiculous: Explosive decompression is a myth. As is the myth that you’ll instantly freeze in a vacuum (or low atmosphere) out in space. You get about 15-30 seconds of consciousness (depending on if you were smart enough to exhale) to freak out about your impending death while the oxygen in your blood is sucked out through your lungs. The pressure difference gives you case of the bends so bad, your lungs rupture. Your exposed tissues get what is essentially horrific sunburn as all the water in your skin begins to spontaneously evaporate.
What Should Have Happened: As people were exposed to the surface of Mars, they would get frostbite around their nose, eyes, and mouth, and begin the symptoms of hypoxia within the first few minutes. At that point, their brain and heart would still technically be working, so they'd have about 90 seconds for someone to save them. After that, their blood pressure would drop so low that the blood would literally begin to boil. After that, it would be game over.
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
What Happens In The Movie: The polar ice caps melted, covering the entire world in water and making it one massive ocean. The only dry land is the top of Mt. Everest, and it's terrible.
Why It’s Ridiculous: There’s only enough ice to raise the water level a little more than 200 feet worldwide. This would be a disaster for coastal towns and cities, to be sure, but it wouldn't be flooding Denver.
What Should Have Happened: People would walk on dry land around the overcrowded interiors of continents, complaining about how they miss New York City and Venice but not really giving that much a sh*t generally.
Directed by: Kevin Costner, Kevin Reynolds
What Happens In The Movie: A woman gets an overdose of a drug that unlocks the full potential of her brain, giving her superpowers as she accesses all 100% of her mind.
Why It’s Ridiculous: You use all of your brain to do even simple tasks such as turning on a coffee pot. It’s all being used, just in different parts. Trying to use 100% of your brain to do something would probably leave you catatonic. It would be like using 100% of your body to text.
What Should Have Happened: There wouldn’t have been a drug to unlock more of your brain. Lucy would have been a normal drugs mule and likely would have died from an overdose when a balloon full of heroin popped in her lower intestine.
Directed by: Luc Besson