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NASA Picks Its Best and Worst Science-Fiction Movies

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NumberTwo

Paper or plastic?
Feb 2, 2007
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Professional nerds RAGE!

http://motherboard.tv/2011/1/4/nasa-picks-its-best-and-worst-science-fiction-movies--2

At some kind of conference in which NASA “pleaded with Hollywood bigwigs for more rational plots” the space agency named its seven worst sci-fi films and seven best, in terms of scientific value. 2012 took home first place in the worst list for its non-stop diarrhea of bad science, like an initiating end-of-days domino having to do with the generally (in real life) non-interactive particle the neutrino heating up the Earth’s core. Or something. Oddly enough, I haven’t seen it.

My favorite from the “worst” list is What the Beep Do We Know?, which anyone with a halfway level head is already aware is a mammoth, bleeping pile of woo and bleep and bad science. Paraded as a documentary, no less.

I’m just glad NASA tagged it as the science fiction it is. And crappy science-fiction at that. What’s worse is that What the Beep Do We Know? has an entire movement behind it—followers and psuedoscientist leaders like Deepak Chopra—spreading the same half-truths and distortions about quantum mechanics while crouched and ready to spin the next big discovery into even hotter woowoo.

And at least 2012 doesn’t have that (though, it’s based on a certain pre-existing pseudoscience movement).

Anyhow, the lists.
WORST

1. 2012 (2009)

Neutrinos heat up the Earth’s core via solar flares or some bleep, which makes lots of bad bleep happen. Like Mount Everest taking on a tsunami. This is the point in the evolution of disaster porn where plots are found to be unnecessary.

2. The Core (2003)

Didn’t see this one either, but it has to do with the Earth’s core not rotating and bleeping up the Earth’s magnetic field. The Village Voice called it an “undigestible fusion of worst-case earth science and leaden pacing.” What’s worse is that it’s not even really “worst-case earth science” because it’s not based on real science.



3. Armageddon (1998)

It occurs that you could take the bad science in these movies and take it as a reflection of what the public-at-large understands about science. Like, I bet more people than not think this blowing up of the asteroid idea would work, and have no idea that an asteroid doesn’t need to even be a fraction that big (“the size of Texas”) to ruin civilization. A garage-sized piece of asteroid would be enough level a massive city. Also: that scene where the Russian guy fixes the spaceship by hitting it with a wrench.

4. Volcano (1997)

Ditto for this. I imagine Los Angeles being on a major fault line might lead one to conclude that said fault line could sprout a massive volcano all of a sudden. If one knows nothing at about geology.

“It’s incredible heat!”

5. Chain Reaction (1996)

This is an action movie that involves a yet-to-be-proven concept called “"bubble fusion":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubble_fusion.” I guess NASA’s beef might have something to do with bubble fusion not actually involving a “chain reaction,” and the whole glass of water powering Los Angeles extreme untruth. And that the idea of bubble fusion, which is likely not the energy-for-nothing type of thing that people think of when they think “fusion,” being some super-secret that puts lives in danger is kinda laughable.

6. The 6th Day (2000)

In which “science” provides ready-made, near-instant full size clones for pets and people.

7. What the #$! Do We Know? (2004)*

Depends on who “we” is.

BEST

1. Gattaca (1997) <3 (YES)

Job discrimination based on DNA predisposition is no stretch.

2. Contact (1997)

Don’t worry, the science community isn’t keeping some big secret about interstellar travel via alien-designed teleportion device (probably). I think it’s more that Contact is fairly on point about the bureaucracy, politics, and general clusterbleep that a contact event would be surrounded by. Not to mention that the film involves the means by which we actually hunt for aliens, SETI, and explains it with accuracy.

3. Metropolis (1927)

4. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

At the very least, it got ‘50s American xenophobic mania about right.

5. Woman in the Moon (1929)

6. The Thing from Another World (1951)

7. Jurassic Park (1993)

Note the slight irony of Michael Crichton being a global warming denier/creep.

I’ve seen a lot of lookit our tax dollars at work! type reactions to these lists, like it’s somehow trivial how science is portrayed in the mass media, that bad science in films doesn’t degrade actual, real science being conducted in labs. Obviously, the scientific community disagrees. Note also the tremendous opportunity for improving scientific literacy, just by making accurate films.

Good to see GATTACA getting the respect it deserves.
 

siddx

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Jun 1, 2009
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I expected this thread to be filled with people who are delusional enough to think they know more about science than NASA. I am surprised at the positive responses.

Oh hey, spoke too soon.
 
May 6, 2008
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They forgot to list the value of Armageddon. :D

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Michael Bay admitted that central premise of the film, "that [NASA] could actually do something in a situation like this," was unrealistic. Roy Pool, a contributing screenwriter, stated that his script, in which an anti-gravity device is used to deflect a comet from a collision course with Earth, was "much more in line with top-secret research."[9] Additionally, near the end of the movie's credits there is a disclaimer stating, "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's cooperation and assistance does not reflect an endorsement of the contents of the film or the treatment of the characters depicted therin."[10]

NASA shows the film as part of its management training program. Prospective managers are asked to find as many inaccuracies in the movie as they can. At least 168 impossible things have been found during these screenings of the film.[11]
 

Dennis

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Jul 7, 2009
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Ridiculous.

2001 should have won.

God, I hate Gattaca. Political correct drivel. "oh, look, the human spirit triumphs over DNA" Fuck off.
 

shintoki

sparkle this bitch
Oct 9, 2007
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siddx said:
I expected this thread to be filled with people who are delusional enough to think they know more about science than NASA. I am surprised at the positive responses.

Oh hey, spoke too soon.
Hey, they are fucking underestimating the latent power of Bruce Willis to stop shit from happening!
 

xbhaskarx

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Aug 13, 2007
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BEST

1. Gattaca (1997) <3 (YES)

Job discrimination based on DNA predisposition is no stretch.

So none of the people making this list are geneticists.

My mom took her whole lab to see it in the theater and they thought the science was pretty much a bad joke.
 

siddx

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Jun 1, 2009
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shintoki said:
Hey, they are fucking underestimating the latent power of Bruce Willis to stop shit from happening!

True, one should never underestimate the power of the Willis
 

Timedog

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Oct 15, 2004
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DennisK4 said:
Ridiculous.

2001 should have won.

God, I hate Gattaca. Political correct drivel. "oh, look, the human spirit triumphs over DNA" Fuck off.

.

Nerds have a wet dream over it because they secretly wish they could have been on the football team in HS. It's the fucking CRASH of sci-fi.
 

Pandaman

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May 19, 2009
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JdFoX187 said:
If they're listing these movies based on scientific accuracy, I would think Jurassic Park fails as much as any of the "worst" listed films. Other than that, good list.
?

jurassic park makes one big assumption[viable dna in amber], but given that its for the sake of actually having a plot, im sure nasa let that slide. plus they swished in dinobirds during a troubled time in paleontological debate.

xbhaskarx said:
So none of the people making this list are geneticists.

My mom took her whole lab to see it in the theater and they thought the science was pretty much a bad joke.
you realize that genetic discrimination in employment situations actually happens, right?

try being a boxer and getting insurance, dont be surprised if some companies want your blood first. So i can imagine that screening went like this: 'do we have a computer that can analyze and identify someone in the span of a few seconds yet? no? THIS MOVIE IS POPPYCOCK'.
 

xbhaskarx

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Pandaman said:
you realize that genetic discrimination in employment situations actually happens, right?

Believe it or not, the complaint geneticists have with the movie is not related to the one sentence this random blogger dude used to sum up the science content of the movie!

Pandaman said:
So i can imagine that screening went like this: 'do we have a computer that can analyze and identify someone in the span of a few seconds yet? no? THIS MOVIE IS POPPYCOCK'.

Holy shit you are retarded...
 

Purkake4

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Dec 26, 2008
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Also, Hollywood science and Space does not work that way.

sorry
 

ChoklitReign

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Aug 15, 2008
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NASA sure likes the idea of aliens looking exactly like humans. I raged at the lack of 2001 and the inclusion of JP and The Thing Not By John Carpenter. List is a joke.
 

LQX

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Of all the movies on that list, their worst is my favorite. 2012 is such a underrated movie. A great thrill ride up until the arks.
 

PhoncipleBone

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Apr 12, 2005
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NASA gives props to Gattaca. NASA was cool already, but this makes them cooler. Respeck.

EDIT: Hmm, Close Encounters is not on the list. Interesting.
 

Skiptastic

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Jan 17, 2007
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xbhaskarx said:
Surely you mean the "worst science" list... right?

Well, I didn't see the little blurb about scientific value. Now that I see that, I guess it makes sense...

Still, defund on principle.
 

PhoncipleBone

Banned
Apr 12, 2005
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Skiptastic said:
NASA left the Original Star Wars movies off the list? Fuck that noise. Defund immediately.
Read the article. It is movies with actual scientific value, and Star Wars is pretty far from being scientifically accurate.
 

Plinko

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Jul 31, 2007
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I'm really kind of shocked Independence Day isn't on this list.
 
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