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Ten Ways Space Travel Isn’t Like Television or the Movies

It always annoyed me that jumping into lightspeed/hyperspace/warpspeed made some sort of noise. In space, no one can hear you scream.

You’ve probably heard this fact stated before by your high school science teacher or some killjoy walking out of a movie theater: If movies were trying to be scientifically accurate, there would be absolutely no sound out in space. That means no booster rockets rumbling, no laser blasts during an epic space battle; just pure silence. Space, by it’s very definition, is made up of absolutely nothing. Since sound is caused by vibrations through a medium — air, water, etc. — there’s simply no way for sound to transmit over any distance. Of course, watching almost any action scene from Star Wars with the mute button on would be incredibly boring, so filmmakers usually get a pass for this one.


From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by ari.

1. space isnt empty. it has allot of atoms in it running around. Its just not DENSE enough to carry sound.
2. the sounds you hear could be the Sounds inside the ship, from Generators and soforth IN THE SHIP that are DOING their thing.. AS metals are a conduit for sound.
AND as most engines need Oxygen to combust, it would probably SOUND into the cab of the craft.
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There are some things they missed:
1) There is no music in space: the members of the orchestra playing the Star Wars theme would be instantly killed in the vacuum
2) There is no such thing as "Force"
And so on.

Articles like this are annoying and miss the point, the point being that every "mistake" they are talking about is there to do a better job of telling the story. No sound, no fiery explosions, no hyperspace, taking forever to get anywhere, taking years to talking to aliens would be BORING BORING BORING. It would be all exposition and NO conflict. It would be Star Trek the Motion Picture but a million times worse!

Why don't people like this ever write about how the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or the Passion of the Christ aren't scientifically accurate?
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Not to mention #7 isn't even really right. It assumes that light speed travel means travel through space at or near light speed.

This is, generally speaking, not what the story describes. Hyperspace travel involves travel through extra dimensions, which may be far emptier than normal space. Wormhole travel effectively shortens the distance the travelers must traverse, making high speeds unnecessary. Warp drive distorts spacetime in a bubble around the ship, contracting in in front and expanding it behind; the ship is technically stationary, and so I suspect debris would appear to curve around the bubble, rather than penetrate it and collide with the ship.
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Science already solved the problem of sound back in 2185. Humans are so used to sounds that modern spaceships (2192-) come with Basic-Noise-Generators (BaNG). These use optical sensors mounted on the craft of suit to tanslate the eternal images in to interior sounds. The Sounds come from a library of 3 billon personalized samples stored on a fake hair in the ear.

Occupants can now hear sounds and insantly know what direction they are coming from.
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Personally I complain more about that it seems that gravity and atmosphere on basically every liveable planet seems to be identical with the ones on earth.

No to mention the look of the aliens (two arms, two legs, ears, nose, etc.)
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All the points were kind of "Oh really? I never knew!", as other posters have already commented.

One thing I'd like to ad: while you are not slower in Zero Gravity, it is not advisable to move as fast as you could, as you will be sent tumbling into the next wall. There is a reason, why real astronauts are just "floating slowly around the cockpit" - the author just didn't get it.
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I have ALWAYS said that about the explosions. There is no oxygen so no fire in space! None! Humph.

Now let's have a post about fireman movies that are badly done. How about they couldn't walk in a burning building without their BAs on, let alone talk to eachother. Lame.
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IANARS (I am not a rocket scientist) but, although there is no oxygen in space, there is oxygen in oxygen tanks. And rocket fuel may contain an oxygen source mixed in. Anyone know this for a fact? Not to mention, that the entire habitable area of the TV/movie space craft is filled with oxygen or oxygen-containing 'atmosphere'. So you may have a fire or explosion, albeit only as long as the O2 source holds up.

Moving in slow-mo in space? I'd move in slow-mo, if it helped me avoid hitting my head, hitting vital sensitive equipment, and otherwise flailing about. Haste makes waste.

My questions:

With laser guns, why do stormtroopers keep missing? Why miss at all?

Why do robots bleep and bloop? If you must communicate with a robot, wouldn't you make it (as robots are all 'made') able to communicate in your language --- right out da box?

Why does Schwarzenegger's Terminator have an Austrian accent, if it was manufactured in the U.S.? (Wasn't it?) Austrian voice chip?

In Tom Cruise's War of the Worlds, why do the aliens vaporize people that they will later collect for food? Playing with their food? Naughty.
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nice comparison andrea, that stuff is real and terrestrial so there is no excuse.

my complaints with the list:
#8. nobody knows
#7. nobody knows/advent of technology?
#3. don't spacesuits inhibit some quick motion?
#1. there are lots of planets with similar gravity to earth, for example, mars. the planets humans go to in scfi shows like star trek, probably don't have crushing gravity, because we don't want to go to planets with crushing gravity.

also star trek explains the proliferation of humanoid aliens.
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Firefly and the movie spinoff Serenity had no sound in space.... And it was pretty action packed. The only time they put sound in a space battle was in the space battle moved locations from space to the upper atmosphere of a planet.
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I think the description of what happens when you are in the vacuum of space was off. Here is what NASA has to say about the topic.

Basically your skin seems to keep your blood and urine from boiling. After about 15 seconds you pass out from lack of oxygen. A couple minutes later, you are most likely dead.

It sounds like the author's point isn't to point out how terrible science fiction is for not portraying everything right, but is trying to just make people aware of certain facts. I do believe that some of these things could be incorporated into movies without making them "boring". Number 3 and number 2 are good exmaples.
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What about Teddy bears armed with spears can't really take out an armored vehicle.

I liked the one about wormholes. The author says they wouldn't work like that, and they're only theoretical anyways. Well, if they're only theoretical, couldn't they work whatever way we wanted them to?
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