!!!SCIENCE MOMENT 2000!!!
THE SCIENCE FROM THESE TITLES OF THE
|FEO ON THE 'NET!
Matt Jarbo's interview with Feo Amante at The Zurvivalist.
James Cheetham's Q&A with Feo Amante at Unconventional Interviews.
Megan Scudellari interviews Feo Amante and Kelly Parks (of THE SCIENCE MOMENT) in The Scientist magazine's online website.
"Magazine of the Year" presented by The American Society of Business Publication Editors.
The Scientist Magazine interview at The-Scientist.com.
E.C. McMullen Jr.
has an author page at Amazon
is listed at GoodReads
The Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com),
Stage 32 (stage32.com), and is a
12 year member of the San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC).
Wikipedia 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
2000 - 2002
SUPERNOVA - 2000
if you were ever unfortunate enough to be on board a spaceship involved
in an asteroid collision, you would NOT live to tell the
tale. Movies like this always portray asteroids like big boulders,
bouncing off the ship. Actually they're more like 1000 ton
rifle bullets. The difference in velocity between your ship and
the average asteroid is likely to be measured in miles per second.
Even a little one would ruin your whole day.
"high gravity" field they're caught in is crap. Isaac
Newton could have explained exactly what they needed to do to establish
a nice, stable orbit. The equations are very straightforward and
require only a pencil and a piece of paper (and
a brain - feo).
And third, there
are blue giant suns. They're much more massive than our sun,
which creates greater pressure in their cores which in turn makes
them burn much hotter. Which is a real good reason not to get anywhere
near them! They put out such intense heat and radiation they make
our sun look like a night light. And yet this movie shows the intrepid
space paramedics so close to the deadly blue sun that it practically
fills the sky, yet it gives off no more light than a lava lamp! WRONG!
PYTHON - 2000
The movie is vague on exactly what created this giant snake. At first
you think Dr. Rudolf genetically engineered the monster but later
we're told that Rudolf's company actually found it in
South East Asia and assumed it was a mutant created by Agent Orange.
If they'd just said they'd created it through genetic
engineering and left it at that, I'd have been fine. Advanced
genetic engineering will (sooner than you
think) be able to create all kinds of custom animals and
its not a Godzilla sized snake just a really big, tough,
acid-spitting snake. But the inconsistent explanations (we
made it we found it we won it in a raffle)
are too annoying and I have to take points off for that.
BOA - 2000
If a giant prehistoric snake were trapped in a nitrogen chamber it
would perfectly preserve the beast. Dead. The snake's corpse
wouldn't decay because the bacteria that cause organic decay
can't live in pure nitrogen. Nitrogen is not magical
suspended animation gas. It's just a good preservative.
And it's also not inert, as a character here describes. Helium
is inert, in the sense that it doesn't participate in any chemical
reactions. Nitrogen does.
When Dr. Trenton
sees the boa, he describes it as a missing link. Really?
Between what and what? Medium sized snakes and really, really big
snakes? Clearly, missing link sounded to the screenwriters
like something a paleontologist would say, even though Mr. Roth
and Ms. Neish don't know what it means.
A giant snake
might be plenty hungry after a multi-million year nap, but like
most big snakes it would probably only need one big meal a month.
It would save most of the guards for later, assuming it was somehow
warm enough (in Antarctica!) to move
at all. Reptiles live in warm climates for a reason.
EARTH - 2000
a long list of things wrong with the science in this movie but the
worst offense has to do with a strange gas (only
referred to as "breath gas") that makes up a sizable
portion of the Psychlo homeworld's atmosphere and that the Psychlo's
will die without. This gas also explodes if exposed to radiation,
which makes you wonder how the hell the homeworld has survived.
Is it located in some magical area of space free of cosmic rays?
In the billions of years it must have existed did a uranium-bearing
meteorite never fall? And never once did any of the Psychlo's enemies
ever think to exploit this incredible weakness?
Also, I must
mention that for a millennia old star faring civilization, the Psychlo
technology isn't that impressive. Their weapons, computers, aircraft,
etc. are just variations on our existing technology, leaving me wondering
what their tech was like 1000 years ago when they conquered Earth.
HOLLOW MAN - 2000
Much to my own surprise, I have very few objections to the science in
this movie. Invisibility in the usual sense, basically being perfectly
transparent, isn't really a workable idea because you wouldn't
be invisible any more than very clear glass is invisible. Difficult
to notice, sure, but that's all, much like the creature in
the PREDATOR movies. However, THE HOLLOW MAN isn't transparent. Instead, he's
been "quantum phase shifted" so he's out of synch
with regular matter. What does that mean? Not a damn thing, but
at least they made a pseudo-scientific effort which is all I ask.
The one thing
I will mention is something they point out in the movie but don't
carry to its obvious conclusion. Sebastian is sensitive to light
because his eyelids are transparent so he can't close his eyes.
Alas, this also means his retinas are transparent so he'd suffer
the fate of all invisible men: he'd be blind. So much for the
girls' locker room.
TREMORS 3: BACK TO PERDITION - 2000
The Ass Blasters do have (sort of) a real equivalent in nature. The bombardier beetle has a similar ability
and that’s all I’ll say about that. As far as the graboid and all
it’s variations are concerned, this movie avoids the lame “Precambrian
life forms” explanation given in TREMORS
2. However several times the monsters are referred to as “reptilians”
which they certainly are not.
X-MEN - 2000
The mutants have a wide range of abilities, from Storm, who can control
the weather, Cyclops,who can fire intense blasts of energy from his
eyes, to Wolverine, who can heal instantly. But almost all of the
mutant powers have one thing in common: they violate the Law of Conservation
Cyclops' beams represent a tremendous amount of energy.
Where does it come from? Is there a nuclear power plant in his head?
And for Storm to change the weather at will she would need enough
power to heat a small country. Even Wolverine's ability represents
impossibly energetic cell division. If he had a metabolism fast enough
to do that he'd need to eat constantly and digest his food instantly.
Don't take him to lunch!
I swear to you, evolution is a simple concept. Creationists try
to make it sound mystical and therefore unbelievable (and then they go to church and pray! The irony!) and movies like this play right into their hands by reinforcing the misconception
that evolution is a magical force that makes life become more advanced
until that pinnacle of evolution is reached: Me.
I mean: Us.
Sorry to burst your bubble but you are no more advanced a life form than a tree
slug. Just because you're smarter doesn't mean you're
more complicated. You and the tree slug are just adapted to different
environments and given the time and the right environmental pressure,
evolution could turn us into tree slugs and vice versa. Another
thing to keep in mind is the answer to the creationist argument
If we evolved from apes, why are there still apes? The
answer is the theory of evolution does NOT say we evolved
from apes. It says modern humans and modern apes have an ape-like
common ancestor that lived about 7 million years ago. Humans are
not higher on the evolutionary scale than chimpanzees.
Were merely adapted to a different environment.
OF THE APES - 2001
I must admit that the science here is actually better than the original
in the sense that the explanation of why apes and humans live here
and why they speak English sort of fits (I won’t
ruin that surprise for you but whatever you think it is in the first
few minutes - you’re right). Of course all the space-travel
related details are as wrong as wrong can be. For example it's popular
in movies like this to create an otherworldly feeling by putting multiple
moons in the sky. That's fine as long as they move! Multiple moons
means multiple orbits with different periods which means if you look
at the sky a few hours later one moon may have moved a lot in the
sky but the other may not have moved much at all. If they stay in
the same relative position all the time it looks like the studio could
only afford one matte painting.
Still in SCIENCE MOMENT mode,
I also have to point out that gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans
are separate species and would have no more romantic interest in each
other than they do now.
Continued at SCIENCE MOMENT/Planet of the Apes - 2001
SPIDERMAN - 2002
Lots of movies are made about good guys with super strength giving bad
guys the beating they deserve, which is fine. But no movie has ever
been made (to the best of my knowledge)
that shows what a fight like this would really be like. The single
spider-strength blow that Peter delivers to his bully, sending the
bully flying down a hallway, would certainly have resulted in a
shattered rib cage, massive internal bleeding, and one dead bully.
The rest of the science here I'm willing to let slide, with two comments. First,
a genetically engineered spider is vastly more believable than a
mere "radioactive" spider as in the original comic. Second,
if you want a much better movie about the genetic mixing of a human
with a multi-legged nonhuman, watch Jeff Goldblum in THE FLY.
TREK: NEMESIS - 2002
The show had plenty of the usual gaffs, like sound in space (Quick
Plug for Firefly on FOX, the only SF series EVER to get it right there is no sound in space). But I
want to comment on something more general. As I mentioned before,
this is supposed to be 300 years in the future. Think about what
the world was like three centuries ago, not just in terms of technology
but attitudes, beliefs, everything. My point is that for such a
long time in the future, not much has changed. Other than a few
magical plot devices like warp drive and transporters, their tech
looks very familiar. I have a flat screen monitor just as good as
the Captain uses. Maybe a little more imagination is in order? Just
And mining slaves?
That's a bad sci-fi staple but it's not very well thought
out. A culture like the Romulan Empire wouldn't use slaves
to mine ore. This has nothing to do with morality; it's simply,
vastly, more efficient to use automated mining equipment than slaves.
SUM OF ALL FEARS - 2002
I'm not giving anything away when I tell you that the terrorist
nuke is detonated in Baltimore, while the president is attending the
Superbowl. That's in the TV commercial. Did you see the TV commercial?
Well, then you pretty much saw the whole nuclear explosion.
going to make a movie about such a devastating event you should show
how truly devastating it would be, but they decided not to go that
way. Even the aftermath is severely downplayed, seen only in glimpses
as Jack runs around the ruins of Baltimore, trying to catch a key
bad guy. The science part is this: that ain't snow, Jack. That's
fallout. Heroic Jack ignores warning after warning that he's
in danger from the radiation but like a true hero he ignores the danger,
not even donning a surgical mask to keep the very deadly dust out
of his lungs. I hope his doctor girlfriend still likes him when all
his hair falls out and he starts puking blood.
MEN IN BLACK II - 2002
SCIENCE MOMENT BY
At one point
a bad guy ally of Serleena mentions that he was in jail for stealing
the Earth's ozone layer. "You know how touchy these humans
are about global warming," he tells her, or words to that effect.
This is a common mistake among the science illiterate.
of the ozone layer (which is caused by chemicals
called CFC's*) and global warming (which
people suspect is caused by human industrial carbon dioxide output, though that has NOT been proved by any means) are two entirely separate, unrelated issues.
*A threat first discovered by Chemistry Professors Frank Sherwood Rowland and José Mario Molina-Pasquel Henríquez of the University of Irvine, California.
In 1974 they presented their paper in the science journal, Nature, bringing notice of the threat to earth's ozone layer (Ozone - O3) from chloroflourocarbons (CFC - Chlorine, Flourine, Carbon). In 1995 they shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, along with Atmospheric Chemist, Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, for their work on alerting the world to the danger of CFC.
Today, the most prevalent ozone depleting chemical still in consumer and industrial use is Nitrous Oxide (N2O). While N2O occurs in nature, it is largely released by the burning of biofuels.
REPORT - 2002
SCIENCE MOMENT BY
Spielberg's vision of the future feels very real and the technical
details are stunning and a little nightmarish. For example, every
wall of every building is also a flatscreen monitor, projecting
news, announcements and (mostly) ads.
These aren't just any ads they're intelligent ads
that recognize you as you walk by and talk directly to you. Hey,
Kelly! You look like you could use a Budweiser.
Gah! Leave me
science error involves Gideon (Tim Blake Nelson),
the prison warden. He's in a wheelchair. Mr. Spielberg's
experts clearly didn't include any neurologists, because 50
years from now the only place you'll find a wheelchair is in
a museum. We are so close to being able to regrow damaged nerve
tissue that it's not even worth talking about.
DARK DESCENT - 2002
SCIENCE MOMENT BY
The Marianas Trench (located off the Marianas islands in the South
Pacific) is almost seven miles deep. Think about that for a
second. Seven miles of water above you. That means absolute pitch
dark, cold and most of all: pressure. The pressure at sea level is
about 14 pounds per square inch. At the bottom of the Marianas it's
more like 16,000 pounds (8 tons!) per square inch. Even if you could design some kind of diving suit that would allow humans to walk around on the ocean bottom here, there's no way anyone would have the physical strength required to take off their helmet.
Not that it would be difficult to kill yourself here. There is one very good
scene where a drugged out miner takes a mining drill to the wall
behind his bunk and lets the ocean in. The room is instantly filled
with water and an emergency door irises shut. As it does a thin
stream of water shoots through and kills a poor bastard who happens
to be standing in its way, almost cutting him in half. Water under
that kind of pressure will cut steel. The accuracy of the scene
loses points though because one of the company personnel who responds
to the emergency describes what happened as "Explosive Decompression". Wrong. If you're in space and a wall blows out that's explosive decompression. But here, since it's the outside pressure
that's greater, what happened was Explosive Compression, not decompression.
PYTHON II - 2002
SCIENCE MOMENT BY
Anacondas are the largest snakes in the world and there have been
unconfirmed reports that anacondas as big as the snake in this movie
(80+ feet in length) actually exist. The largest confirmed specimen was 34 feet long. Anacondas are longer
(and beefier) because they live in the water (which helps to support their weight),
as opposed to the mostly tree-dwelling pythons. So an Anaconda would
have made more sense here, but if you use the actual title of the
movie youre ripping off, people notice.
RETURNER - 2002
SCIENCE MOMENT BY
There's a little bit of scientific basis in the concept of time
travel (in other words, it just might be physically possible). But even that bare possibility states that you could never go back to a time before your time machine was built.
IMPOSTOR - 2002
SCIENCE MOMENT BY
This is a movie about a glittery high tech future and there's a lot
of cool tech toys displayed. That's why, by comparison, the ridiculously
low-tech method of telling human from robot by using a heart-ripper-outer
machine just seems stupid. He's a duplicate right down to his DNA?
To every atom in every DNA molecule? I don't think so. Nanotechnology
(which will absolutely change the world in the next 20 years or so) has been picked up by lots of sci-fi screenwriters as a magical plot device that they clearly don't understand. This is not how it works.
"He's a duplicate right down to his DNA?"
"To every atom in every DNA molecule?"
Well, those atoms are pretty limited. Atoms can only make specific molecules. You can't substitute one type of atom or number of atoms for another and still have the same molecule. So we start off replicating someone with the knowledge that a human being, ALL of them, can only be made up of a set of four types of nucleotide bases: adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine.
The atoms that make those molecules are pretty specific.
Then you have the Purines,
Guanine: NH2 (2 of), N (2 of), O (one), NH (One).
Adenine: N (3 of), H2N (One), NH (One).
And the Pyrimidines.
Thymine: O (2 of), NH (2 of).
Cytosine: NH2, N, O, NH (One of each).
Add a little sugar (5 carbon atom lumps, please), a little phosphate, and in the darkness bind them with a helix ring of aromatics and hydrogen (I know I'm being Gibbs, but the energy is free!).
Viola! DNA aka Deoxyribonucleic acid or G.A.T.C. Every human being is comprised entirely of this and nothing else: Every single one of us without exception. Just one nucleotide less than four, more than four, or different from one of those four, will result in a non-human.*
So all that a sufficiently advanced alien technology would need to do (or say, for example, "our" technology this time next week), is surreptitiously attain your DNA (and the means are many), and then replicate it to grow/reproduce your very own you - with an entirely different set of instructions, morals, values, whatever.
*I know, I know. I didn't mention RNA. Don't even get me STARTED on RNA!
FIRESTARTER 2 - 2002
The movie does mention that the drugs (from “lot 6” that starts it all to the new and improved “Lot 23” in use twenty years later) work by activating genes on a specific chromosome and there is lots of work like that being done today, so kudos to the writer for reading a little science news before starting this job. Kudos.
OF FIRE - 2002
First, and foremost, there's just no way (unless you invoke magic, which the moviemakers do not) that an animal bigger than an elephant can fly by flapping its wings*. I'll
spare you the equations but trust me. The wings would have to be
many times bigger than pictured in this movie, which makes the muscle
and bone strength requirements quite impossible. Only magic dragons
can fly. Second, even though we see several scenes of the dragons eating unburned people, we are told that their normal diet consists of ash, which is why they burn everything.
Ash is basically just carbon. Its biochemical energy content is essentially nil. You'd starve mighty quick on an ash diet.
Third, if the world had gone through cycles like this for millions of years (and
clearly each cycle can't be more than a few thousand years
long since the last one happened within recorded history),
there would be tremendous archeological evidence (many,
many layers of ash). There is not.
Fourth, even if they could fly and even if there were millions, we'd still
win. Helicopter gun ships could easily outfly them and jets would
be quite safe. Building fireproof bunkers would keep people and
supplies perfectly safe. The list goes on. This would not cause
the collapse of civilization.
*Actually, the Quetzalcoatlus from the Late Cretaceous was larger than an elephant and it flew^. There is no specific size for the Quetzalcoatlus, each one found is of a significantly different size though all are 17 feet and up. The largest we've found so far had a wingspan of 21 meters (68.9 feet) and a body length more than half that (about the height of a tall giraffe).
Compare that to the largest of elephants past or present, the Steppe mammoth, an animal about as long - stem to stern - as it was tall - feet to shoulder, 4 meters (13 feet - the largest known).
Of course, an animal built for flight isn't proportioned like an elephant. The largest Quetzalcoatlus thus found weighed about 25 kilograms (550 pounds), compared to a Steppe mammoth, which weighed about 12 tonnes (13 tons).
Then again, the dragons in this movie aren't proportioned like elephants either. In fact, the dragons for this movie are designed with greater wing to body ratios than were seen in the Quetzalcoatlus.
Another flying animal of the Megafaunas is the magnificent Argentavis magnificens. It may have flown as fast as 150 freaking mph! Holy shit!
^There is some discourse on whether or not the Quetzalcoatlus could fly. Some Paleontologists argue that the Quetzalcoatlus could not fly because, well, it was just too big to fly is all!
This hypothesis doesn't stand up to the fact that, for the Quetzalcoatlus to have been a land animal, it would require a bone density in its forelimbs, as well as a foot pattern for weight distribution, that the beast just didn't possess. Also, it's hindlimbs can't make up for the lack in it's forelimbs, as they are clearly clawed-for-gripping, feet.
LEGGED FREAKS - 2002
First, I refer you to my review of the movie THEM for a discussion of the square-cube
law and why it makes giant bugs impossible.
Second, spiders don't
take a bite out of anything.* They either inject liquefying poisons
and suck the juice or inject paralyzing poisons and suck the blood
and other bodily fluids. The movie actually gets this right at first,
but then forgets it. And third, a huge group of large predators like
this would need way more food than the Arizona desert could supply,
even if you include the townspeople. The spiders would starve in short
*FeoNote: Except for plant eating spiders, which DO eat that way.
'Veggie' spider shuns meat diet