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Most Scientifically Inaccurate Movies

Ashwini Kulkarni Sule
Trust Hollywood to come up with the most bizarre plots with sensational performances. But sometimes, the bizarre element just stretches a little too far, making the whole plot implausible. These movies, perhaps, follow some entirely different science, unknown to the rest of mankind. Let us see which are some movies that have made it to the list of most scientifically inaccurate movies.
As avid sci-fi movie lovers, we are used to leaving our scientific beliefs outside the theater. We know that cars can fly, ghosts can talk and that glass walls are permeable to certain humans. We do not flinch when a giant monster, a byproduct of radioactivity and genetic material, goes rampant in a city.
We don't even bat an eyelid when green-headed aliens decide to march on Earth. What's more, we even nod in appreciation when a superhero slows down a charging bullet or turns the course of a projectile by a simple wave! But sometimes, there are moments when even a die-hard movie buff inside us yells, "Dude, that can't happen.. even in a sci-fi movie!"
Bad science is not new to Hollywood movies. In fact, tweaking laws of science has become a norm for sci-fi movie makers. Bending the known physics laws is pardonable to some extent. But what do you do, when the makers decide to invent a parallel science of their own!
Some sci-fi movies revolve around absolutely ridiculous plots with completely absurd explanations for the antics shown on screen. Interestingly, most of the movies that have featured in our 'list of top 10 scientifically inaccurate movies' have done brilliantly at the box office.
Needless to say, these movies had more to offer than an abysmally foolish plot. So, let us finally take a look at the most scientifically inaccurate plots ever!

List of Most Scientifically Inaccurate Movies

There is really no dearth of bad science movies in Hollywood. However, we have limited our research to only those films that have done very well and/or are globally acclaimed.

1. Armageddon (1998)

Earth is threatened of a collision with a fast-moving asteroid that is about the size of Texas. NASA comes up with a plan to drill a hole through the asteroid, plant a nuclear bomb inside it and rip it into two halves, both of which would miss Earth.
A team of deep-sea oil drillers, led by Bruce Willis is summoned and trained for the space mission. After several failed attempts, the team finally succeeds in detonating the nuclear device and breaking the asteroid as per plan, though at the loss of few of its crew members, including Bruce.

Why is it Scientifically Inaccurate

Even if you ignore trivia such as, it is impossible to train a bunch of blue-collared drillers for space expeditions in a matter of days, or that meteor shower which precedes the asteroid collision hits only cities but surprisingly misses 70% of Earth's area covered by oceans, the fact remains that, there exists a Texas-sized hole in the plot itself!
Scientists have marked a whopping 168 scientific mistakes in the movie. The concept of destroying the asteroid with a nuclear device itself is flawed as we haven't yet invented a bomb that is half as powerful as that required to rip an asteroid into two.
Besides, the entire plot is based on the assumption that it is possible to drill through an asteroid, as though its composition is identical to the Earth's composition.

2. Independence Day (1996)

A large geostationary alien mothership enters the Earth's orbit on July 2, 1999 and stations 36 alien spaceships on major cities of the world. These spaceships are about 15 miles wide and equipped with energy weapons for attack.
As these spaceships go on a destruction spree all over the world, a coordinated counterattack is planned by all nations. This attack is planned for July 4 or Independence Day and targeted at sabotaging the mothership itself by uploading a virus.
After several challenges and failed attempts, the team finally succeeds in its mission and destroys the mothership by planting a nuclear bomb.

Why is it Scientifically Inaccurate

The size of mothership is shown to be 1/4th the size of moon. With such humongous mass and closer proximity to Earth, the mothership should have been capable of wreaking havoc on Earth, simply by its gravitational pull.
Unusually high tides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions should have been rampant all over the world. However, nothing of this sort happens, as the world population continues to gawk at the mammoth spaceship and prays silently.

3. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

A classic example of how a stupid plot can ruin what could have been a great climate disaster movie. One fine day, the ocean temperature shows a considerable drop, which scientists attribute to melting of polar ice. As the ocean level swells, major cities of the world are drowned.
A cold wave strikes New York City (NYC) and freezes everything that comes in its way, while a violent tornado destructs Los Angeles. The plot also revolves around paleoclimatologist, Denis Quaid's search for his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is stuck in NYC with his friends.

Why is it Scientifically Inaccurate

The biggest flaw of the film is that the weather changes happen a little too abruptly. Practically, it would take about hundreds of years for the climate to worsen to a point where it actually threatens the life on Earth. It would take about 2.5 years to melt all the ice on the South Pole, even when all the sunrays are targeted on this region.
Meaning, it would take several more years for polar ice to melt, considering the current rate of global warming. Besides, the entire continent of Antarctica needs to be melted to sufficiently elevate the ocean levels to drown the NYC. All of this, happening overnight sounds simply implausible.

4. Jurassic Park (1993)

Millionaire John Hammond and his buddies think it is a cool idea to have a park full of cloned dinosaurs. They extract dinosaur's DNA from the gut of a 25-million year old fossil of a mosquito and breed it. However, dinosaurs do not think it's cool enough an idea to come back on Earth, hence go on an attacking spree.
The research crew, while fleeing the attack also tries to put the sabotaged security system of the park in order. Meanwhile, they discover that the dinosaurs have now started breeding on their own! Perfect.

Why is it Scientifically Inaccurate

The theory of reviving the monsters of bygone era, by simply extracting and cloning the DNA from a 25-million-year old mosquito is simply implausible. The double helix of dinosaur's DNA is unlikely to remain intact after these many years.
It would break down to pieces and fuse with genetic material of a mosquito itself as well as with other organisms that it devoured. The genetic wonder resulting from this mess wouldn't look anything like T. rex for sure.

5. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

During the cold war, Prof. Henry Jones receives a coded message from demented colleague, Henry Oxley, which is intercepted by Soviet agents led by an intelligent woman named Irina Spalko.
The Soviets chase Jones and his young son to Peru where they decode Oxley's message and find a crystal skull made of single quartz piece. Jones has to protect it from Soviets and return it to its rightful place. The father-son duo combat the Soviets and supernatural forces in their endeavor.

Why is It Scientifically Inaccurate

There are just too many things that are scientifically inaccurate about this movie. Even the previous Indiana Jones movies were full of improbable adventures of Jones.
However, the highlight of absolute retardation has to be the scene in which Indiana Jones locks himself up in a lead-lined refrigerator to protect himself from nuclear explosion and comes out unscathed.
Although, it is believable that the legendary Indiana Jones survived the crash when his refrigerator gets thrown off in an explosion, the effect of radioactivity is something even Indy cannot escape.

6. The Core (2003)

After several strange incidents involving instability in Earth's electromagnetic field, scientists discover that Earth's core, a nickel-iron mass of about 1500 miles in diameter has stopped rotating for some reason;
the effects of which could lead to collapse of electromagnetic field on Earth and microwave radiation from space to enter the Earth's atmosphere. They devise a plan to kick-start the rotation by boring the core and planting a series of nuclear charges at precise points.
A team is elected for the mission and a special multi-compartment vessel Virgil is built for the task. The team encounters numerous challenges while inside the Earth's core but finally succeeds in its mission.

Why is it Scientifically Inaccurate

Even if we assume that it is possible for the core to stop rotating on its own accord or by external trigger, there are still some questions that are unanswered. For one, what would happen to the tremendous amount of energy that is stored in the core? If the core stops rotating, this energy has to go somewhere.
It would most likely erupt through the surface causing an explosion equivalent to 5 trillion nuclear bombs going off at once. Hence, the collapse of electromagnetic field on the Earth should have not been so much of a worry. Besides, the radiation through space is not strong enough to cause substantial damage to the life on Earth.

7. Total Recall (1990)

It's the year 2084 and humans have successfully colonized Mars. Arnie is a construction worker who is tormented by a series of dreams about Mars. He decides to go for a memory implant about Mars vacation at Rekall.Inc, which specializes in implanting fake vacation memories.
However, something seriously goes wrong and Arnie finds himself at the hands of hostile forces, including his beloved wife. While he tries to make sense out of the chaos, he discovers that he was a secret agent on Mars working against corrupt administrator, Cohaagen.
Finally, Arnie ends up on Mars where he uncovers many truths about his identity. The only problem here is that he cannot understand if this is happening in reality or in his head!

Why is it Scientifically Inaccurate

The film does not take into account the significant variation in the environment of the two planets. Arnie and company walk into the red planet as if it were another Earth. The fact is, Mars' gravitational pull is only 1/3rd that of Earth. Thus, it should have made even the muscular Arnie bound across the room.
Besides, when exposed to Mars' thin atmosphere, humans may have a severe case of asphyxiation. However, their heads certainly wouldn't explode like the one shown in the climax scene, which is almost comical.

8. Outbreak (1995)

In 1967, Motaba, a deadly hemorrhagic fever virus is found in a camp in Zaire. The camp is destroyed in a secret operation to prevent the virus from spreading. The virus resurfaces in 1997 in Zaire, after which virologist, Dustin Hoffman asks his superiors to alert the world.
However, the information is withheld due to the potential of virus as a bioweapon. The virus accidentally spreads to a small town in California when an infected monkey is smuggled from Zaire. Meanwhile, the virus mutates, making the serum E-1101 (which was earlier used to kill the virus) useless.
As the disease goes viral, military decides to bomb the town. However, Hoffman and his team manage to capture the host monkey just in time and prepare a new serum from its antibodies and thus, save the town.

Why is it Scientifically Inaccurate

A disease that is so virulent would not give its host enough time to infect others. Thus, the pace at which the disease spreads is implausible. Besides, formulating a serum against such a deadly virus needs more than a few hours. However, Hoffman and friends seem to accomplish the task in less time than that is required to make a cup of coffee.

9. 2012 (2009)

Certain ancient sciences forecast that Earth will come to an end following a series of cataclysmic events. Neutrinos from the Sun are likely to increase the temperature of Earth's core and cause climatic disturbances of great magnitude. A secret rescue operation begins to protect as much of the world population as possible.
By 2011, arks are built to safely transport people away from the danger. The onset of year 2012 is marked by apocalyptic events such as earthquakes, floods all over the world. Protagonist John Cusack flies his family along with other people to China, from where he intends to board an ark.
Several people die during an eventful journey. In the end, the swelling ocean submerges Mt. Everest, while the continent of Africa stays above sea level.

Why is it Scientifically Inaccurate

The theory of neutrinos causing an increase in Earth's core is ridiculous. Neutrinos do not react with ordinary matter.
Hence, there is no way they can change the core temperature. Besides, there are several other scenes based on flawed science. For instance, a tsunami upturns a ship in the middle of the ocean. This is not possible as tsunami only strengthens upon touching the shore.

10. Lost in Space (1998)

Set in the year 2058, when Earth becomes uninhabitable, a mission is undertaken to relocate the inhabitants of Earth to a nearby planet.
This mission is led by Dr. Robinson who is entrusted with the responsibility of constructing hypergates in the orbit. Hypergates on Earth and planet Alpha Prime offer stable points for arrival and departure. Robinson's family travels in Jupiter 2, a spaceship equipped with a hyperdrive, which allows them to travel at a speed faster than light.
However, the mission is sabotaged by a terrorist attack and the spaceship is thrown off the course. Robinson's family then wanders in space, travels back and forth in time and encounters vicious extraterrestrial forms including cannibalistic space spiders.

Why is it Scientifically Inaccurate

There are several things about this movie that depict retarded science. For one, it is not possible to get lost in space for so long and still stay alive. Secondly, it is not possible to travel 'through' the sun, no matter at what speed it may be and not get burnt.
Thirdly, the whole time travel theory is baseless and absolutely ridiculous and lastly, one cannot 'get lost' in the universe as the concept of 'direction' exists only on Earth; space is space without any east or west.
These were only a few films from the sea of movies that showed distorted science. Barring the implausible, ridiculous and in some cases, highly ludicrous science base, these movies really turned out to be good entertainers.
Besides, who would want to see a dull movie with each frame faithful to science? In fact, such a movie would be as entertaining as a physics class. So, while we take a dig at bad science in these movies, there is no point denying that these films indeed gave us a jolt of adrenaline.