Movie Mom

Movie Mom

The “Fi” in Sc-Fi — The Biggest Science Mistakes in Sci-Fi Movies

posted by Nell Minow

The release of “Prometheus” inspired the infinitely charismatic astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson to correct not just its mathematics but its arithmetic.   And it inspired Moviefone to create a gallery of the most outrageous science mistakes in sci-fi movies.  These are mostly just continuity errors, not science mistakes, though.  This is a better list of mistakes that show a poor understanding of the laws of physics and engineering. I also like this list.


But the best is this actual physics class presentation about the science errors in the classic of sci-fi: “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.”

YouTube Preview Image

The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum used to have a wonderful claymation video with Albert Einstein explaining how movies like “Star Wars” violate the laws of science.  “They’re breaking my rule!” he would say ruefully.  I’ve been unable to find it online — if anyone knows where it is, let me know.

And be sure to read this terrific piece in the Washington Post about how scientists are working with television and movie writers and producers to make sure that the media presents a more accurate picture of science — and scientists — and to make sure they have access to some of the most exciting new research to help inspire their stories.

  • Kevin L.

    Many consider “2001: A Space Odyssey” to be the most scientifically “accurate” of science fiction movies, but even it contains at least two errors:
    > During the shuttle docking sequence, the shadows do not move consistent with rotating speaccraft.
    > It was a mistake for Dave Bowman to hold his breath when he tuses the emergency airlock.

    At the other end of the spectrum, NASA screens “Armageddon” for its management orientation program, then asks the new managers to spot up to 168 scientific impossibilities in the movie.

    • Nell Minow

      That’s great, Kevin! As a lawyer, I see mistakes in movies about law all the time. My law professor sister threatened to use “The Verdict” as a final exam, asking students to spot the dozens of mistakes.

Previous Posts

List: Movies about Peter Pan
James M. Barrie's play "Peter Pan" premiered in 1904 and the story of the boy who wouldn't grow up is still one of the best-loved of all time. This week the prequel "Pan" opens up in theaters, with Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily, and ...

posted 8:00:02am Oct. 07, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Adriana Trigiani of "Big Stone Gap"
Adriana Trigiani really is from a coal mining town in Virginia called Big Stone Gap and the biggest movie star in the world did choke on a chicken bone there. Now if that is not enough to inspire a book and a movie, I don't know what ...

posted 3:31:02pm Oct. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Carolyn Hax on the Toughest Media Question Parents Face
I am a huge fan of advice columnist Carolyn Hax, whose compassionate and insightful responses are always illuminating and often very funny. And I love the witty meta-commentary in the accompanying illustrations from Nick Galifianakis. Today, ...

posted 10:54:14am Oct. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara in "Trash"
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0"] ...

posted 8:00:26am Oct. 06, 2015 | read full post »

John Hanlon Interviews Beth Kushnick on Designing for "The Good Wife"
"The Good Wife" has one of the best production design teams on television, so I was especially interested to read the interview my friend John Hanlon did with Beth Kushnick, set designer Beth Kushnick for The Credits. I loved the way she ...

posted 2:58:59pm Oct. 05, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.