Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Science Quibbles With Avatar

Science quibbles: I’ll skip the bogus flying mountains except to say that if you grant the premise, you still have to explain how such small rocks can have huge waterfalls cascading off of them. Even if they were made of sponge, they’d drain in a few minutes at that rate.

As someone who still owns every piece of glow-in-the-dark plastic from when I was a kid, I loved the phosphorescent night life. However... I think that the only time you would have “night” on a moon orbiting a gas giant would be when the planet is between Pandora and its star. Think about how bright our own moon is at night: when it’s full, you can read by it. And it only fills half a degree of the sky. From the look of it, Pandora’s gas giant covers about 60 degrees. Imagine that much starlight being reflected from a high-albedo cloud world -- it would be as bright as day.

In the film, it’s stated that Pandora has lower gravity than Earth, and that would explain how the banshees can fly by flapping instead of soaring, but then one should be consistent: everything that falls would have to fall at a much slower rate of acceleration, yet it seems that everyone and everything falls at an earthly rate on Pandora (to be fair, it would be a much slower-paced film if they did that...). I did like the zero-G in the opening scene, though.

One thing I expected to see but didn’t: after all the talk about how all the life on Pandora was electrically connected in a gigantic neural net, I was expecting the white male neo-liberal to be the one to figure out how to harness that power into a directed-energy weapon, with plasma bolts shooting from the Tree of Souls.


At March 31, 2010 9:59 PM, Anonymous Jean said...

I saw the publicity and the anticipatory complaints about this movie before it came out. I think it's too easy to pick holes in it because of all the advance discussion and criticism of its concept. This movie turned out to be exactly the kind of movie I was expecting; not a deep, thought-provoking, philosophical consideration of a meeting of two cultures, or a scientifically consistent hard-SF treatment, but a really cool neato-looking escapist treat with gorgeous visual effects. The bad guys were too bad, the good guys were predictably good, the theme has been used and re-used, but who cares?

It's fantasy. Suspend your disbelief. Think of it as a space-opera fairy tale. It was lots of fun to watch and I'll probably watch it again so I can see all the cool background and scenery that I missed the first time around.

I've watched Dances With Wolves more than once, and I really liked it. Avatar really is Dances With Wolves, except this time the Indians win. What's wrong with that?

At November 28, 2010 3:26 PM, Blogger Victor said...

And. OK, I realize that a REAL night would take place when Pandora is in its planet's shadow. But then again, that's not the "night" we saw in the movie. It wouldn't have been as beautiful. Sometimes factuality isn't...

At November 28, 2010 3:29 PM, Blogger Victor said...

Jean -- Nothing wrong with Indians winning. What's wrong with both films is the liberal conceit that they would be too disorganized or blind to the threat to win without the assistance of one White Liberal Male turncoat. I rooted for the Ewoks...


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