BEWARE THE SCIENCE OF THESE TITLES FROM 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
1970 - 1979!
THE PLANET OF THE APES - 1970
I must talk about The Bomb. This weapon, worshipped by the mutant humans of the
future, is briefly described as a cobalt bomb. Brent and Taylor take
it for granted that this bomb can destroy the world but can that be
true? Well, sort of. It depends on your definition of "destroy."
You see adding cobalt to an H-bomb does not make the explosion bigger
- it makes the fallout worse; worse in the sense of staying radioactive
and deadly for many years instead of just a few months like a regular
nuke. For a good story about a cobalt weapon
war worst-case scenario, see ON THE
So if by destroy you mean "kill all mammalian life" (those
damn cockroaches would survive just fine) then yes, it would
destroy the world. But if you mean "blow up the Earth"
(implied in the next movie) or "ignite
the atmosphere and incinerate the Earth" (mentioned
in this movie) then no. Only an anti-matter weapon or something
similar could accomplish such a gargantuan energy release.
COLOSSUS: The Forbin Project - 1969
The computer technology in this movie is very quaint by
todays standards. The "printer" sound effect and punch
card font letters in the opening credits were meant to seem futuristic
but today seem as primitive as stone tablets. And the assumption that
computers, which at the time were huge, room filling machines, would just
get bigger was reasonable before the tiny computers developed for the
Apollo program came along and led to a PC on every desktop in the world.
But don't let the primitive tech fool you because the basic assumptions
here are sound. Once you develop true artificial intelligence, that quickly
leads to machines that can improve themselves faster than is humanly possible.
For better or worse, I have no doubt that sometime in our new century
we will build machines that will replace us as masters of the Earth.
FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES - 1971
When Dr. Dixon first sees the three apes, he's mildly surprised
to see that they're wearing clothes and seem very bright, but
he dismisses it by saying they must be well trained. Is that how a
zoologist would react in that situation?
"Oh my god! They're standing upright and have opposable
thumbs! This is a whole new species of chimpanzee! Maybe a new order
of primate! I've got to publish immediately so I can name the
species. I'll be famous!"
The fact that they can talk (which is discovered
very quickly when Zira cant resist the need to give her opinion)
would just be the icing on the cake. At first glance they are very
obviously not like any chimpanzee ever seen before.
THE OMEGA MAN - 1971
In the novel the infected are vampires and the movie LAST
MAN ON EARTH is faithful to that aspect of the story. But screenwriter
Joyce H. Corrington, also a PhD. in chemistry, wanted to write science
fiction, not fantasy (she explains all this
in an interview included in the DVD extras) so the vampires
became the believable victims of a terrible, man-made disease.
was just becoming a major concern in the late 60's / early 70's
when this movie was made (and we know now that
the Soviet Union kept stockpiles of some very nasty stuff).
The Sino-Soviet war releasing bioweapons that spread across the globe
was very much a reasonable fear then and unemployed Soviet scientists
selling their expertise to terrorists is a perfectly reasonable fear
1138 - 1971
There is a truly odd mix of technology here, from 70's era computers
and displays to the super-advanced robot cops. Normally that would
bother me - if you have that kind of robotics tech you don't need
human workers at all - but it doesn't because this is a police state.
Logic and totalitarian philosophy do not mix so I assume it all
makes sense within their society. It reminds me of the Soviet Union,
which never threw out anything that still worked.
CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES - 1972
There is a key scene where Caesars chimpanzee girlfriend Lisa (Natalie
Trundy: BENEATH THE PLANET
OF THE APES, ESCAPE FROM THE
PLANET OF THE APES, BATTLE FOR
THE PLANET OF THE APES) actually speaks, apparently learning how
Im sorry, but no. Apes dont speak - not because
they havent learned - but because they cant. They dont
have the vocal apparatus. If you transplanted a human brain into a
chimps body the resultant creature might understand everything
you said but would not be able to answer. The only thing that would
turn modern apes into sentient, speaking beings like Caesar is some
serious genetic engineering.
GARGOYLES - 1972
This movie tries to portray the race of Gargoyles as intelligent reptilians with
an unusually long egg incubation period: 500 years. That's why they
disappear for centuries and become mere legend, then make a new appearance,
get all but wiped out by humanity, and are forgotten as legend again
until the next time. That raises lots of questions, like why aren't
skeletons of these creatures found all the time and where are the
fossils of whatever line of reptiles lead to these intelligent beings?
But I can let all of that go with some handwaving and I can respect
their attempt to approach gargoyles from a science direction. What
I can't let go is the flying. You can't have something as big and
heavy as a man flying on such flimsy, slow wings without invoking
magic. The physics just doesn't work out on its own unless the wings
(and associated back muscles to drive the wings)
are much, much bigger.
I have to
be careful here, because I dont want this to be a spoiler just
in case you havent heard someone quote Hestons famous
line at the end of this movie, when he finds out why Simonson was killed.
What I want to address is something he says just before the famous
line: The oceans are dying! The plankton is dying! If
that were true then we would follow pretty quickly. Oceanic plankton
produces about 70% of the oxygen in the atmosphere. If the plankton
were gone then Earth would not be what we think of as an Earth-like
planet any more.
Z.P.G. - 1972
A lot of people in the 70's were very concerned about over population and the whole idea of Zero Population Growth was an often discussed potential solution. Famine and environmental disaster seemed inevitable and a lot of the sci-fi movies from this era are dystopian and downbeat (SOYLENT GREEN, for example). But if you’ve been paying attention you'll have noticed that in spite of there being lots more people today, none of the disasters they worried about in the 70's ever happened.
Sure, there have been famines, but only because of corrupt, incompetent governments, not because there were too many people. There are billions more people now than in the 70's and between now and then steady improvements in agricultural technology have made food nothing but cheaper and more plentiful.
But if you're still worried about overpopulation, consider this: except for the United States and New Zealand, every Western Nation (including Japan and all of Europe) has a birth rate below replacement level. That means deaths are outpacing births and the population is shrinking. In some cases (Russia, for example) for every two people who die only one new one is born, which means the population is halving every generation.
On top of that, even cultures with high birth rates (most of Islam) are seeing a gradual decline over time. Add all this together and most predictions now show the population of the world leveling off around mid-century, and dropping thereafter.
WESTWORLD - 1973
Michael Crichton was trained as a medical doctor before he became a big shot
author / screenwriter / director. I don't know it for a fact but I'm
assuming that's why he imagined a robot "disease" that spreads
though out the park. Today that would probably be written as a computer
virus but I have no problem taking the movie at its original intent,
mostly because of something the chief supervisor says in a Delos meeting
discussing the problem. He says that most of the robots have "been
designed by other computers - we don't know exactly how they work."
This is something that is actually happening today (google
"genetic algorithm" if you want to know more).
FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES - 1973
movies never really say exactly how modern apes are transformed into
intelligent simians. Many assume that it must be either evolution
or mutations from lingering radiation. Neither of these can be the
the neighborhood of 5 million years separates modern humans and
modern chimpanzees from their common ancestor. Two thousand years
aint gonna do it. Evolution needs more time to make changes
And as for radiation,
the answer is no for the same reason the answer would be no for
radiation creating the giant ants in THEM.
Mutations just dont work that way. They almost always cause
bad changes in genes, that result in still births or shortened life
spans (if you take the text from a book and
randomly scatter the letters, what are the chances the book will
be better? Odds are it wont even be legible anymore).
The one and
only way these apes could exist is if they were created deliberately.
A great deal of genetic engineering is the only answer. The Theory
of Special Creation would actually apply, although their creator
was something less than divine.
the problem. Twenty years after CONQUEST
OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, where shambling, inarticulate apes
were being used as slaves, all of simian kind has been transformed
into the upright, speaking creatures we saw in the first movie, WITH NO EXPLANATION AS TO HOW THIS HAPPENED! I mean, what
TERMINAL MAN - 1974
Cases like this – a head injury turning a normal person into a violent monster – are well known.
It takes an effort of will to keep this SCIENCE MOMENT short, not because there are mistakes that deserve mention – there are none – but because there are so many topics that apply. I'll limit myself by saying that, as is often the case when Michael Crichton is involved, this story is ahead of its time.
The bulk of the public is unaware that the field of neuroscience is about to unleash a host of discoveries that will raise as many ethical questions as genetic engineering. We've come to understand enough about the brain that soon we will have infallible lie detectors, drugs that genuinely enhance your intelligence, and methods that would allow the kind of control seen in this movie. It's all closer than you think.
EMBRYO - 1976
The growth hormone is pure drivel, but the concept of an artificial
womb is sound. It has turned out to be more difficult than scientists
thought but it is coming. Imagine the implications: No more premature
infants or miscarriages. No more painful, medically risky childbirth.
Total control over when and where babies are born. No more women
lording it over men about the "pain" they go through!
JAWS - 1976
Great Whites generally do not go out of their way to eat people. Their preferred foods are pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) because they like the blubber. People are too lean for their taste. Some think that when Great Whites do attack people, it's because they're mistaking a surfer paddling on a surfboard for a seal. In fact that's not true.
Great Whites are perfectly able to tell the difference as evidenced by their approach. When attacking a seal they rocket up from beneath and slam into the seal, practically leaping out of the water. When attacking a person they leisurely swim up and take a bite. They're just curious to see what this odd creature tastes like and generally they take that one test bite, decide we're not very flavorful, and swim away. Of course one Great White bite can be fatal but the fact is most people survive these attacks.
RABID - 1977
There's a Gahan Wilson cartoon that shows the gated entrance to the lair of
a mad scientist. Next to the gate is a big sign that says, Trespassers
will be experimented upon!
The good doctors of the Keloid clinic
must have gone to the mad scientist medical school if they think it's
legal to perform experimental surgery on unfortunate accident victims,
even if they are using stem cells. Yes, stem cells! Well, they didn't
call them stem cells but that is what they were describing when they
took a piece of skin from Marilyn Chambers leg and sent it away
to a lab to be grown into more skin and any other body parts she might
what went wrong when they did that, I couldn't comment on because
the movie never explains. I get the impression the intention was
these magic cells knew she needed blood so it grew her
a blood stealing needle thingie (pardon the
technical jargon) in her armpit. But why that causes rabies
is never explained.
Continued at THE SCIENCE MOMENT/Rabid.
OF THE BODY SNATCHERS - 1978
The only thing I didn't like in terms of science was the opening segment.
The alien filaments or spores or whatever float from the surface of
a planet, into space and find their way to Earth in both a cheesy,
bad effect (the only bad one in the movie)
and a manner that demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of
gravity in general and the distances between solar systems. It made
PROPHECY - 1978
here is mercury poisoning. Mercury, used by loggers to prevent wood
from rotting as it floats down river, gets into the fish and anything
that eats the fish (including Robert and Maggie).
Now, it is true that Mercury itself can damage your nervous system
and cause insanity, and it is true that many Mercury compounds are
mutagenic. This is very well known in fact, it's too well
known. There have been so many thoroughly studied cases of mercury
poisoning that if mercury caused giant, mutant bears everyone would
Teenage boys would be breaking open thermometers and sneaking
into the zoo late at night. They should have made up some scientific
sounding but completely imaginary substance, like dilithium crystals
ALIEN - 1979
Every form of life on Earth, from bacteria to oak trees to people,
is based on DNA. But DNA is far from the only solution to the chemistry
problem of self-replicating molecules. Life that evolved elsewhere
would certainly be based on different chemistry. What Im getting
at is the idea that a creature like this could have naturally evolved
the ability to make use of alien biochemistry is out of the question.
Im not saying these monsters are impossible Im
saying they can only be artificial. They were created by a culture
with a very advanced understanding of extraterrestrial biology and
ALIEN is one movie that science geeks really love to discuss because this is one of the very few Hardcore Science Fiction movies in existence (the other being ALIENS).
Science Geeks Kelly Parks and E.C.McMullen Jr. have a discussion over the possibilities of a xenomorph like the Alien actually being able to exist. For hardcore science fans only: ALIEN SCIENCE