While Hollywood films provide a thrilling escape from reality, they often portray scientific inaccuracies that can mislead audiences. Consider some common Hollywood science myths that shouldn’t fool you, even if they’re thrilling on the screen.
Dinosaur Sounds and Vision
Hollywood often presents dinosaurs as monstrous, roaring beasts. However, paleontologists believe that many dinosaurs closely resembled birds, with feathers and chirping sounds.
The terrifying T-Rex in Jurassic Park probably had huge eyes and excellent vision, so even if you stood stock still, he’d find you. Chomp!
Sharks in movies are often relentless human hunters with an exceptional ability to sniff out blood in the water. Sharks can sense a drop of blood in a little more water than would fill a typical swimming pool, but they couldn’t sniff out humans from miles away.
In the ocean, if a shark isn’t already close to you, it’s probably not going to find you through its sense of smell. Probably.
The trick is figuring out if a shark is already close to you. Pay attention to warnings and don’t go near the water if you’re not sure!
Related: 10 Best Shark Movies
Turning Your Back to Explosions
A fiery explosion in the background as a movie hero walks calmly away makes a great film shot, but it’s far from what would happen in reality. It wouldn’t produce dramatic fireballs in the sky, and real-life explosions would produce a shock wave that would knock our hero down and possibly cause their internal organs to disintegrate.
Explosions often come with a cloud of hot and potentially toxic gases, which aren’t usually visible. But invisible gases don’t make for good movies, so why wreck the final battle with a dose of reality?
In Star Wars: A New Hope and other sci-fi movies, lasers are brightly colored beams that move at a speed visible to the human eye. In reality, lasers are invisible unless they pass through a medium, such as smoke or dust. Plus, they keep going—they don’t stop at the tip of the lightsaber.
Finally, since space is a vacuum with no medium for sound waves to travel through, laser weapons wouldn’t make that cool “ptew, ptew, ptew” sound they do in the movies, either.
As far as vaporizing stuff, the best we have at present are laser cutters used in metal fabrication shops. Laser cutters have their own myths, so when Hollywood makes a movie about a hero who cuts sheet metal for a living, they’ll probably elaborate on some of them.
Medical dramas frequently depict defibrillators as magical devices that can restart a stopped heart. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.
In reality, defibrillators correct irregular heart rhythms—they don’t bring someone back from a “flatline” situation.
Related: 10 TV Drama Series on Netflix
Flying Backward When Shot
Movies often show people flying backward when hit by a powerful blast from a gun. However, the laws of physics dictate that the force exerted by a bullet on a target is equal to the force exerted back on the shooter.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, right? If a bullet could throw a person backward, it would also throw the shooter backward with equal force. So where’s the recoil?
But hey, don’t let the truth interfere with your enjoyment of a well-made (or even laughably bad) action movie. While Hollywood’s dramatic depictions aim to entertain, don’t let Hollywood science myths fool you, no matter how cool they look on screen.
And remember, the world of science is just as fascinating, if not more so, and understanding reality enhances our appreciation of the natural world. So once you finish your popcorn, crack a physics book and find out how things really work!
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