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Old 30th June 2004, 10:52 AM   #1
Prune is offline Prune  Canada
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Thumbs down Science and Spider-Man 2

Besides other failings, such as cheesy attempts at humor and no end to alliterated names (Peter Parker, Otto Octavius, Green Goblin?, come on!!), the amount of science that was sacrificed in the name of entertaining the masses almost made me weep. Disappointed by Roger Ebert's positive review, I emailed him the following:
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On a number of occasions you have pointed out scientific inaccuracies in movies -- be it characters outrunning fireballs, or the wrong speed of the line of sunlight in observation #4 in your Mummy Returns review. The horrendous way Spider-Man 2 handles science, however, transcend these by an order of magnitude. So why didn't this get at least a passing mention in your review?? I would have walked out of the theater at one point, if I had been sitting in an isle seat! There's something to be said for suspension of disbelief, but when a movie uses science buzzwords like fusion and nanowires, it is making at least some pretense of minimal scientific accuracy and should have avoided some of the more glaring nonsense seen here.
I know you get lots of mail, so I'll just point out a couple of examples. Spidey expels a large amount of webbing, and not just in terms of length, but as we see in close-ups, it's fairly thick and clearly of a lot of volume. Spider-man somehow manages to produce material that's at least a significant fraction of his weight. So now that we've dropped as fundamental a law of physics as the conservation of mass and energy, I suppose anything is game. This was wholly avoidable while still allowing Spidey to perform as he does, for the simple reason that we know much stronger materials exist (i.e. carbon nanotubes) and the web could have been many times thinner.
I could swallow that problem, but the next one was too much, and prompted me to write this message. The depiction of fusion was plain embarassing. Bombarding a fuel pellet by lasers will cause it to release its energy in an instant flash. The lasers would be only on for a moment, otherwise the pellet will evaporate and disperse before fusion can start. In the movie, the lasers started one after the other; the first laser would have destroyed the pellet. It gets worse. They showed a fiery ball looking like a star. I suppose the twisted thought process that gave birth to that must have gone something like this: stars are powered by fusion, so a small fusion reaction must look like a small star. In reality, stars glow because fusion in the core heats the upper layers. Due to the hundred million plus degree temperature, the actual light emitted by fusion is in the gamma and x-rays spectrum (which, together with the neutrons would have killed anything around due to the lack of heavy shielding; the magnetic containment cannot affect non-charged particles), with only a bit of mostly violet visible light. And that tritium pellet, come on! Tritium is radioactive and you can't just carry it around in a glass sphere. And tritium is a gas; to have a solid pellet it must be stored at extremely cryogenic temperatures. I could keep going, but the point is that many people that watch this kind of stuff get a totally twisted view of science.
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Old 30th June 2004, 01:44 PM   #2
benny is offline benny  Australia
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i doubt many people are going to be getting a twisted view of science from films like this... as inacurate as these representations may be, i highly doubt the average viewer is even going to take much notice of what is hapening outside of the actual storyline.

maybe if this was in another context, more people would take notice of so the so called 'science' you talk about. but unfortunately, the majority of hollywood movies follow the classic hollywood narative, and are quite simple movies to follow, and don't require that much thought while watching... then they end with the same old they all live happily ever after ending... soon after, most people remember no more than just the storyline and maybe a couple of their favourite scenes.

most people don't even remember that much about most hollywood movies a little while after seeing it because of the style of movies they are... they require no active engagement from the viewer. this is purely because of the simple and repetitive format used.

most unobservant viewers pay no attention to things like this... most people don't pay attention to scientific facts or claims in a movie simply because they aren't taking note of things like this... someone like yourself who understands things like this does take note though, but that is only because this is something you know, and the movie just went against what you wanted, or expected to happen... in your mind, you have the preconception of the correct scientific fact, then sudenly you have something that contradicts thrown at you... you sudenly have to make a concious thought and figure it out. you remember this because it challanged you.

the hollywood narative is verrrrryyyyy repetive and predictable... not just the story line... i have realised that a lot of times i will sit there and go, 'oh no, not again, don't do this,' in a semi desperate mental plea to the film to not be so predictable... and then they do what i thought was going to happen... you can predict to the seccond when the music is going to build, when they're going to cut to this shot, even what the shot will be sometimes, how something will be edited and so on.

chuck your average punter infront of something like a european art house film, and they probably won't manage to understand the film, and they won't like the 'unresolved' ending, that actually might require them to think for a change... i reckon if you asked them afterwards, they would remember a lot more of the details though, like scientific facts, because they are paying attention to these as unlike infront of a hollywood film where they are told everything, another type of film that challanges their preconceptions makes them have to think and try to piece the story and and more importantly in most arthouse cinema, the themes together.

because there is a concious thought process going on in their head trying to get around this new and less simple film format they are paying more attention to the details of what is actually hapening, and not just the story.

cheers
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Old 30th June 2004, 02:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: Science and Spider-Man 2

Ummm..

Why is a glass sphere of tritium dangerous?

When I attend movies of this nature, I check my understanding of science at the door..it is all about entertainment.

Cheers, John
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Old 30th June 2004, 03:12 PM   #4
Rob M is offline Rob M  United States
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Worst. Episode. Ever.

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Old 30th June 2004, 03:39 PM   #5
basil is offline basil  Canada
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Default Has no ever heard of entertainment?

Look if your going to be that cynical, then you might as not make a movie about a genetically altered spider - human......

Come on a man who shoots webs from his arteries?

A nerd who gets a girl like MJ come on where is the reality?

The film is supposed to use the same "science" that was used in the original comic books - about 6o years ago... In fact, Otto is based on a character from the original strip.... As an 8 year old I loved these comic books!

We might as well get rid of all the spacecraft rumbles in space in ALL sc-fi movies!!!

I personally enjoyed the movie. If you don't like sci-fantasy don't shell out the 10 bucks it cost to see it.


BASIL
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Old 30th June 2004, 08:22 PM   #6
Prune is offline Prune  Canada
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Look if your going to be that cynical
I'm cynical? You better break out the dictionary, buddy! I have put forward a legitimate criticism.
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then you might as not make a movie about a genetically altered spider - human
Well, I didn't!
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A nerd who gets a girl like MJ come on where is the reality?
In scientific surveys, the majority of women's primary consideration in rankin men is financial status (which makes sense from an evolutionary point of view). A significant proportion of nerds tend to succeed in that department, so in the end a lot of them do get attractive women -- I've seen many instances of this.
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We might as well get rid of all the spacecraft rumbles in space in ALL sc-fi movies!!!
Why not? 2001 did fine without them (it's got 94% at the rottentomatoes.com criticism survey, pretty good for a sci-fi film). I bet if you were not used to these due to the inappropriate use in sound in space scenes, you would not be missing them from any movie that correctly omits them.
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If you don't like sci-fantasy don't shell out the 10 bucks it cost to see it.
Sci-fantasy my @$$! More like pure fantasy, kind of like Star Wars. I only saw it because Ebert gave it 4 stars in his review for the Chicago Times. Usually he's right on target, but this time I am flabbergasted by his review. I wonder how much he got paid off.
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Old 30th June 2004, 08:45 PM   #7
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Default Re: Science and Spider-Man 2

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Prune: Tritium is radioactive and you can't just carry it around in a glass sphere.
On the contrary, tritium is most typically found in glass containers.

It is in the capsules found in exit signs...you know the ones that glow in the dark?

And tritium is a beta producer, the peak energy it give off is 18KeV, with a mean value of 6 KeV. Any beta particle below 70 Kev is incapable of penetrating beyond the dead layer of skin we all have. Ingestion and inhalation are the only way to get a dose, and as the body deals with it just like water, it is a whole body dose, not point of entry. And it is not a particularly active material, it has a half life of about 12 years, unlike technicium at 24 hours, or thallium at 48.

That particular portion of the movie was correct, the delivery of tritium to point zero within a glass sphere.

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Prune: And tritium is a gas; to have a solid pellet it must be stored at extremely cryogenic temperatures.
Ummm..have you seen a cryogenic exit sign? You are incorrect. And I'm not quite sure what "extremely cryogenic" means..do you mean below 1.8 Kelvin superfluid helium 3? That is as low as I've been required to get the pumps here..

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Prune: I could keep going, but the point is that many people that watch this kind of stuff get a totally twisted view of science.
You are criticizing a movie about a radioactive spider bite changed DNA human wall crawler???

Perhaps you would be better served researching all your facts first...as, you have criticized a fictional movie...with erroneous understandings on your part with respect to tritium.

Cheers, John
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Old 30th June 2004, 10:20 PM   #8
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Holy damn man, have you no familiarity with Spiderman? His webbing has always been thick for one thing. Originally probably a drawing issue but it looks fine anyway. It's quite possible anyway, consider the propellant expanding, foaming it as it's released. Add in the strength of those special materials and there ya go. (Sticking to just about anything is another story, but it's based on a comic for Pete's sake.)

And that sums it up anyway, it's entertainment. Now, things that are trying to be scientific, and get it so utterly astoundingly wrong, that's a different story.

Tim
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Old 1st July 2004, 01:32 AM   #9
Prune is offline Prune  Canada
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Default Re: Re: Science and Spider-Man 2

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Originally posted by jneutron
That particular portion of the movie was correct, the delivery of tritium to point zero within a glass sphere.
...
Ummm..have you seen a cryogenic exit sign? You are incorrect. And I'm not quite sure what "extremely cryogenic" means..do you mean below 1.8 Kelvin superfluid helium 3? That is as low as I've been required to get the pumps here.
What the hell? You are talking about something completely different, a small amount of gas in exit signs. You cannot start fusion by bombarding a gas by lasers. You bomard a coated pellet of frozen solid tritium (and other things), which is what they showed in the movie. The pellet must be solid because otherwise implosion cannot happen to initiate the fusion. Implosion happens when part of the surface turns into a plasma atmosphere during irradiation by the lasers and compresses the core. Tritium is an isotope of hydrogen, so you can guess what the freezing temperature is. The rest of the delivering was also incorrect, especially starting the lasers one after the other. If all the lasers are needed to start fusion, then even the first one would have been sufficient to destroy the pellet. Watever you are smoking, I suggest you lay off it for a while.

Not to mention that to produce the claimed 1000 MW output you need several pellets being imploded per second. And of course, the reaction is NOT self-sustaining. It's over in an instant.
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Old 1st July 2004, 01:11 PM   #10
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Originally posted by Prune
[B]
What the hell? You are talking about something completely different, a small amount of gas in exit signs.
You stated exactly this:

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Tritium is radioactive and you can't just carry it around in a glass sphere.
And I have pointed out that there are hundreds of thousands of exit signs in North America alone, that do exactly that..they have tritium in a glass container. So I ask you again...learn the actual facts before you state them. Where did you learn that tritium cannot be "carried around" in a glass sphere? in a movie?

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You cannot start fusion by bombarding a gas by lasers.
And to think that the best scientists and physicists in the world are spending billions trying to do so..perhaps they should contact you..and stop wasting money.

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You bomard a coated pellet of frozen solid tritium (and other things), which is what they showed in the movie. The pellet must be solid because otherwise implosion cannot happen to initiate the fusion..
Hmmm...perhaps you should stop getting your science from the movie, and instead get it from the actual researchers..

Quote:
especially starting the lasers one after the other. If all the lasers are needed to start fusion, then even the first one would have been sufficient to destroy the pellet.
In that, you are correct..the leading edge and the peak power must be delivered to a spherical surface at incredibly accurate identical times, otherwise the shock wavefront will not remain spherical, and insufficient compression will occur.

However, the attoseconds and femptosecond level delays that are allowed do not make for theatrically suspenseful buildup..

Why do you think they have huge ON switch handles for those movie contraptions...
THROW THE THIRD SWITCH!!!

NO, NOT THE THIRD SWITCH!!!!...

And in terminator 3, one freakin switch to turn on a superconducting collider??? Here, it requires a control room with about 30 computers, triple redundent fiber optic rings controlling something over 1700 superconducting magnets, 50 Mw refrigerator...Imagine them waiting 3 hours while a ring sweep is performed, to make sure no humans are in the tunnel?? And then, stabilizing the cryogens to within a tenth degree kelvin..it takes days to turn a superconducting accelerator on...are the producers supposed to get your approval as to turn on procedure? Or, perhaps, should they bend the rules for the sake of the storyline....

Or, my favorite: in the movie clear and present danger, when the bomb goes off...watch the hospital scene...the tv goes out, the female doctor is holding some paper folders..as the windows blow in, all the actors and actresses are blown to the right...(I guess they have wires, and are pulled by people stage right)...But, look at the folders the female doctor is holding...they fall down to the floor, while her body is flying to the right...selective shock wave, obviously...


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Watever you are smoking, I suggest you lay off it for a while.
You would be better served learning the science from sources other than a movie, and leaving these personal insults at home...you are giving everyone here a clear view of the educational level of your arguments..

Toodles, John
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