Limitless, Star Trek: Sci-fi movies and their homework – understanding how things work

I love sci-fi movies!

Every time I see that there’s a sci-fi movie coming out, I can’t wait to go to the movies and watch it on that huge screen!

Thing is, with my basic knowledge in physics and science, I can’t help to be desapointed by the lack of scientific accuracy. Right, “it’s sci-fi” so they could do what ever they want as in any fictional story right? But isn’t it best when there’s a minimum of scientific accuracy?

Let’s take two movies I enjoyed and loved watching, but kept having this itchy feeling they didn’t do their homework properly (which can be quite a pickle when there are millions going into the making of the franchise right?): Star Trek and Limitless.

Star Trek (mostly Into the Darkness):

Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachery Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine, Simon Pegg (hilarious!!) and the rest of the cast is amazing! However, when one of the fundamental laws of mechanics (Newton’s laws of motion) is broken, that itchy feeling came running through my spine. It’s when the Enterprise broke down and stopped!

For those who do not know what I’m talking about, it’s the first law:

When viewed in an inertial reference frame, an object either is at rest or moves at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force. (source: Wikipedia)

What is an inertial reference frame?

In simple words (or rather as simple as I try to be), it’s an ‘environment’ where time and space is homogeneous and isotope. Makes sense?

What should have happened?

The Enterprise would simply have kept on with its “course”. Otherwise, what they should have done, was, with a certain speed, found themselves gravitating around a moon or planet, or any object with a mass much bigger than theirs (Gravitational law).

So that’s for Star Trek.

Limitless:

Sexy, talented Bradely Cooper and those bright blue dreamy eyes… Just thinking about it makes me want to see the movie again (yes, just for his good looks…).

In the movie, it says that we only use 10% of our cognitive function. It’s a myth. Here’s an article in French which answers the question: Do we only use 10% of our Brain?

Interested in the Brain? How to actually develop your cognitive functions? Check out these articles:

What one needs to know about the brain (National Geographic [FR])

How to exercise your Brain (Psychologies.com [FR])

The Blue Brain Project (EPFL): it’s an attempt to create a synthetic brain using maths, physics and neuroscience. Though their aim is to study the brain’s archtectural and functional principles.

Interested in the project? Here’s a more visual and explicative site on the subject: Blue Brain, a documentary film.

In summary, a brain can be seen like a computer. It has all this potential that an ‘ordinary user’ would only use, let’s say, 20% of its capacity. However, once you know how it works, once you know how to programme for instance, you can use the computer to its maximum potential, and mostly: to your advantage! 😉

The best thing, is that it doesn’t limit itself to science and technology, but anything in general. Once you’ve understood the way it works, you can use it to your own advantage 😉

So what have you thought unfair for instance? Would you be willing to go deeper and understand that system to use it to your advantage? But then think about the ethics, morals, law and your beliefs….

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2001: Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick

Once I finished graduating high school and got accepted in the University I wanted, with a good friend of mine we did a Euro trip with Interrail. If you haven’t done it, do it at least once in your life (rather youth) especially if you’re European (cheaper than the Europass 😉 ).

One of our destinations was Amsterdam. I remember getting there under the burning hot sun. I was with my oversize camping bag -our trip lasted us three weeks and a half- and my friend with her over cramped suitcase. Though how else are you supposed to do when you know you’re going to be taking easy jet at some point. Ah Easy jet, the pro’s and con’s…

Back to the subject:

One of the first things I saw was the Eye Film Institute and the huge banner about its exposition on Stanley Kubrick. Having heard so much about him and his films, and as stubborn as I am, I imposed to my very patient friend a visit there (as I had done for previous museums).

At the exposition I learned so much on the methodical approach of his work; like a scientist, journalist, or researcher -which is where I became even more fascinated by his work. It is then, that I promised myself to watch all of his movies, I mean chef-oeuvres. Call me a chicken, I might wait a bit before putting on The Shinning.

2001: A Space Odyssey

That was the one I wanted to watch the most before Orange Clockwork. And I just finished watching it! Many people told me that you needed to have patience to watch it and that it’s an extremely slow movie and weird.

They could not be any more wrong! (except for the patience)

I have never been bored for a second throughout the movie. Trust me, after all the movies I have watched, I have become quite critic on the movies I see. In this case you have everything: splendid visual effects, framing, photography, the music which accompany the story-line. Then there is the plot and theme of the movie: Evolution. Which is beautifully depicted from the start till the end.

What I loved the most was the cycle of life he shows through the plot with the monolith. How it’s not exactly linear, but more like a spiral stretched through time. Take the last image of the film, when the main character dies; we became what we are originally: a Star – or rather star dust if one wishes to be more ‘accurate’ – to then be ‘reborn’.

Check out this Article: Are we really made of Start Dust? Explaining from a scientific- physics point of view that poetic imagery.

Let us not forget the humane and psychological side of the movie

In the part Jupiter Mission with HAL: the relationship between the crew members and HAL. How HAL, being made by man, may be the smartest being on the ship but also has its own personality and emotions, as man.

What I love is the honesty between the crew members, and how it all goes berserk the moment they start plotting against HAL in cachotterie. Why? Because of their (HAL’s and Dave Bowmann’s) emotions which don’t make them act logically. Here’s a great quote from the movie:

HAL: “Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?
[on Dave’s return to the ship, after HAL has killed the rest of the crew]
Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.
I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.”

Later, we understand a bit more why this mission is so important for HAL, why he was so passionate about it and acted irrationally.

Isn’t that just how we act sometimes? Irrational by fear, and passion too. But once you’ve calmed down, and taken a step back, you think and realize the truth and what truly is best to be done.

And I know what I’m talking about, having recently experienced and seen the work of fear and lack of knowledge.

So what do you think about all this? The emotions, relations between people?

And mostly, should we watch more educational movies as this one at school to learn more? Not just theories, but life in general?

If you liked this post, check out “The Underscore of everything is love”.