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Question

Can you give me an example within a cartoon or a movie where the laws of physics are inaccurately displayed.
Asked by: Erin

Answer

Take any Roadrunner and Coyote cartoon: a law of Roadrunner and Coyote physics is that you don't start falling until you realize you are.

Take any cop movie where the police and the robber shoot at each other one-handedly. Any gun will have recoil as a result of Newton's 3rd law. More blatantly displayed as a violation of physics, in The Rundown, the Rock fires two shotguns, each with one hand.

In The Core, the team drilling into the center of the Earth is able to maintain constant radio contact, instead of it being cut off by the first foot of rock.

In Spiderman 2, a self-sustaining fusion reaction is put out with water.

In any martial arts movie, if one guy gets thrown across the room, the other guy should be thrown equally in the opposite direction by Newton's 3rd law (I think Hollywood has a proclivity to leave out Newton's 3rd law).

In Chronicles of Riddick there are countless examples which seem to violate thermodynamics on the penal colony stemming from the apparent intense sun.

This is more a biology contradiction: in The Passion of the Christ, Jesus is not rendered dead, or even unconscious within the first few minutes of his torture.
Answered by: Joel Tenenbaum, Physics/Math undergrad


On just about any Bugs Bunny cartoon you see him run into a hollow log. Elmer, being the smart hunter he is, runs in after him. Bugs stands on the end of the log, which is hanging off the side of a cliff. Elmer continues running forward but, oh wait, there's NOTHING beneath him. Yet, he doesn't fall. Instead he runs back in the log, which Bugs turns so that its hanging off the side and the whole process is repeated over and over.

Also, if you or any kids you know watch Ed, Edd, 'n Eddy, which I watch faithfully, watch the episode "Two Squares Plus an Ed." It has numerous inaccuracy's.
Answered by: Josh Poole, High School Student, Rome, GA


In an episode on "The Simpsons" Bart travels to Australia and notices that the water in the toilet is spinning the opposite direction. This is an example of "bad coriolis".
Answered by: Alicia Muirhead


The most obvious example is seen in many sci-fi movies. In most sci-fi movie, when a spaceship explodes, you hear a 'BANG'.

Well, there shouldn't be a 'BANG' because there is no air! Sound waves need a medium to 'surf' over. No air no sound.

In cartoons, most falls start only when the character realises that he is no more supported by the floor or the ground. In reality, gravity doesn't wait for your acknowledgement before it pulls you down as you certainly have felt before.

1 cartoon displays a physical phenomena that is not accurate in practice but could be theoretically achieved. If I mention Lucky Luke, can you guess which phenomena?

Yes, he shoots faster than his shadow. With an almost infinite strength, you could do it faster than it take the lights to reach the screen where the shadows are displayed. If the screen is at 10 meters, you need to do it faster than 30 billionth of a second ( 3x10 exponent-8 sec.)
Answered by: C. Gilles Lalancette, M.S., Cost Management, Bromont, Qu�bec


There are lots of bad physics movies that are supposed to be realistic. One such movie is "Armageddon". At one point, they are in the space shuttle on the asteroid, but they are walking as if they are on earth, with full gravity. Both "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact" have some good science, but their numbers on the projected explosiveness are way way off. Both talk about drilling into an asteroid, but both only drill a small fraction of the way into the asteroid.

Another movie is "Wild Wild West". At one point they have magnetic collars on them, and a simple hit reverses the polarity, which is really wrong. Furthermore, in that whole sequence, the polarity of these collars attracts 2 spinning disks, which don't fly like they are being attracted by magnets, they act like they are being flow like fighter pilots.

Most movies involving spacecraft make the mistake of making the spacecraft fly like fighter jets on earth, including "Star Wars"
Answered by: David Bowman, Physics Undergrad Student, UF, Gainesville FL


Many examples may be found here: http://www.intuitor.com/moviephysics/
Answered by: Ryan Leong, None, Undergraduate, NUS, Singapore



Science Quote

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Albert Einstein
(1879-1955)


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