If you’re a Sci-Fi fan, you’ve likely seen and played your fair share of movies and video games throughout the years. From films like Interstellar and Star Trek to games like Mass Effect and Star Wars, interstellar space travel has been a staple of the Sci-Fi genre for decades now. But as entertaining and exciting as dogfights and all-out spaceship warfare in outer space can be, most of the things we see on screen are impossible!
And no, we’re not talking about our lack of technological development! We are well aware that we’re still years, if not decades, away from interplanetary travel. When we say impossible, we mean that many things we see in Sci-Fi movies and games go against the laws of physics.
We’re sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s true! Don’t believe us? Come see for yourself! Here are five things films and video games (most often) get wrong about space!
5 Things About Space Movies and Games Get Horribly Wrong
As exciting and action-packed as these films and games can be, we science nerds cannot help ourselves but roll our eyes whenever we witness these impossible feats on-screen! Here are five cases when the movie and gaming industry strays a bit too much into fiction regarding space:
1. Gravity Doesn’t Work Like Most Games and Films Show
Where do we even start with this point? There are so many things films and games get wrong about gravity that it hurts our brains!
For instance, do you know all those awkward scenes when the ship’s gravity stabilizer malfunctions? Every movie and video game we know depicts people moving sluggishly as if in slow motion in zero-gravity! As you could have probably figured out by now, that’s not how zero-gravity works.
An environment with no gravity entails less tension and weaker pull on objects, but that doesn’t cause everything to move as if in slow motion. There are two reasons astronauts move sluggishly in low-gravity environments:
- They have big, bulky suits that make it harder to move fluidly.
- They are extra careful because of their suits, so they use slower movements.
So there is no reason people would move like that in a zero-gravity environment in a spaceship when they’re wearing nothing but their regular clothing!
Another common “mistake” movies and games make about gravity regards the strength of a planet’s gravitational pull. How many times have you seen a scene where a ship gets damaged in range of a regular planet’s gravitational field and quickly starts soaring down from orbit to the ground? Probably more than you can count!
Suffice to say that is not what would happen. In most cases, the time it would take for a planet’s natural gravitational pull to send a spaceship plummeting from orbit toward the ground would number in dozens of hours. We do understand that wouldn’t make for a good nail-biting scene, though, so we agree to give them a pass!
2. There Is No Sound in Space
Everyone is well familiarized with the iconic high-pitched sounds of shooting lasers and loud explosions in the middle of epic, fast-paced space battles from films like Star Wars or Star Trek. Some of these scenes are as old as the Sci-Fi genre itself!
Sorry to disappoint you, but as captivating as those scenes are, they wouldn’t sound like that. In fact, you wouldn’t be able to hear anything at all!
For sound to manifest and be heard, it needs particles to travel through. In space, there is nothing it can use to travel! The worst part is that there is likely no film or game out there not guilty of this transgression. Though again, we understand the need for cinematic effects… After all, denying your audience the pleasure of an exciting, loud fighting scene would be bad for business.
3. Traveling at the Speed of Light
What would a Sci-Fi film or video game be without a jump through hyperspace? Yeah, space is vast, so filmmakers and developers need to find a way for the characters to travel around the universe without it taking three lifetimes in a cryo chamber to get from planet A to planet B! Unfortunately, traveling at the speed of light (jumping through hyperspace) wouldn’t look the way films and games depict it.
We all know the infamous scenes from movies like Star Wars where one moment, everything around the spaceship turns into a long streak of white stars, and the next, our heroes are on the other side of the galaxy! Thanks to NASA’s scientific research, today, we know that traveling at the speed of light would not look like that; we could liken it more to going through a tunnel!
All of the above would apply if traveling at the speed of light were possible in the first place, though. Sorry to disappoint you, but it isn’t! And that is not the case because of our lack of technology but because doing so would eradicate every fiber of our being. And what would the point of it be if you wouldn’t make it to your destination in one piece?
4. Space Combat Would Work Much Differently
Let’s face it — most of the time, when we watch a Sci-Fi movie or play a video game, we’re in it for the epic space combat! We must admit that dogfighting in space never fails to entertain us, but we must be real here — space fights would look much different in real life.
Where do we even start? First of all, spaceships would never be able to move and turn as smoothly through space as they can in Earth’s atmosphere. That means that all the fast-paced combat scenes where X-Wings and TIE Fighters are frantically flying around, dodging lasers would look incredibly awkward and laggy. Instead of turning smoothly, navigating a ship in space would feel like driving a car on ice.
But perhaps the worst factual inaccuracy we can find is how big the explosions are in space. Remember the iconic scene of the Death Star blowing up? If such an explosion were to happen in real life, it would be quite underwhelming!
Since there is no atmosphere in space (no oxygen), there is nothing for explosions to burn, so there would be next to no visual indicators of an explosion taking place. So when you combine this with one of our previous points about the lack of sound in space, if movies and games were to stay true to the laws of space, many viewers and players would be left quite disappointed!
5. Space Is Much Bigger and Mostly Empty
Most films and games show beautiful landscapes filled with planets, asteroids, moons, and stars the moment you look out of the cockpit. However, the reality is that space is much larger and much emptier!
In fact, just traveling between the two nearest galaxies would take over 78,000 years in conventional ships. Although films and games cheat that with jumps into hyperspace, their vision of outer space is much richer than it is in reality. As dull as it may sound, the universe is mostly just gigantic, empty, nothingness. Oh, yeah… And it’s also infinite!
Did you already know any of these facts that movies and games get wrong about space? Are there are other inconsistencies between real-life space and the way it’s depicted in fiction? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!