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Why Every Movie Space Battle Is Wrong! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)

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08:28   |   May 11, 2017

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Why Every Movie Space Battle Is Wrong! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)
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Transcription

  • - Imagine a sci-fi space battle.
  • It's pretty easy to picture the ships
  • screaming through empty space,
  • shooting lasers at each other.
  • Now, consider a scientifically accurate space battle.
  • Not so easy,
  • not just because there's never been
  • an actual battle in space
  • but because no TV show or movie
  • has really taken the time to get it right.
  • And I'm not faulting pop culture here.
  • I know that sometimes science
  • has to take a backseat to the story.
  • I'm just here to say that
  • a real space battle
  • would look a bit different.
  • Half a century of the most loved space based pop culture
  • has ingrained in our subconscious
  • what space battles look like,
  • quick moves, laser blasts, cool looking ships,
  • instant communication, and so on.
  • But an accurately portrayed space battle
  • would have none of this.
  • So, what would it have?
  • Let's start with the ships themselves.
  • If you draw it poorly, Disney can't sue, I think.
  • Now, unless you are a spaceship
  • that enters an atmosphere regularly,
  • there is no reason for you to have wings.
  • Wings provide lift when they encounter air,
  • and so, if you spend most of your time in space
  • as it looks like most spaceships in pop culture do,
  • then in reality a spaceship would look more like
  • a box with guns.
  • - [Fox] All-range mode.
  • - No, Fox, I just said it doesn't matter in space.
  • This is why Slippy died.
  • Speaking of talking to annoying crew members,
  • depending on the size and the location of the space battle,
  • communication would be complicated.
  • Let's say that a space battle breaks out around Jupiter,
  • and pilots from Earth are trying to get strategy
  • from Earth command about how to deal with the
  • incoming alien armada.
  • If we wanted to give our pilots there a strategy,
  • there would be at least a 33 minute delay,
  • or 1961 seconds because our signals can only travel
  • at the speed of light,
  • and Jupiter is 600 million kilometers away.
  • A real space battle would have to take this time delay
  • into account and instantaneous communication
  • like you see in movies and TV shows
  • would be impossible.
  • - This is where the fun begins.
  • This is where the fun begins.
  • - Speaking of talking to people who make sounds,
  • a real space battle would be silent.
  • I know you've all heard in space no one can hear you scream,
  • but this applies to explosions too.
  • In space, there is no air to carry pressure waves,
  • which is what sound is.
  • So, even the Death Star blowing up would sound like this.
  • And that's it.
  • Unless some debris rattled your ship,
  • a space battle would sound like
  • nothing.
  • For a real space battle,
  • even the interior of the spaceships would have to change.
  • Beep, boop.
  • Beep, boop.
  • I'm not doing that just for fun.
  • This is how a starfighter's controls would really look.
  • If you're in a space battle,
  • you're going to be accelerating,
  • and your weight depends on your mass
  • and how much you are accelerating.
  • So, if you are pulling high g maneuvers in a space battle,
  • your weight will literally change.
  • Now, imagine having a throttle like they do in Star Trek
  • and operating it when your hand and your fingers
  • become three or four or five or 10 times
  • as heavy.
  • Nah, you can't do that precisely.
  • That's why a real starfighter's controls
  • would allow for movement just of the fingertips to work.
  • Beep, boop.
  • Just the fingertips, bop, boop.
  • And while you're beeping and booping,
  • your crew around you won't be sitting in the starfighter
  • like you may assume.
  • Most spaceships that you've seen
  • have their thrusters at the back like this, right?
  • Well, the only way to give yourself gravity on a ship
  • aside from spinning is to use this thrust
  • and accelerate in the opposite direction
  • that you want to feel your weight acting.
  • - This is where the fun begins.
  • (Kyle groans)
  • - So, if a spaceship like this
  • accelerated in this direction most of the time,
  • the floors and the people on those floors
  • would have to be oriented perpendicular to the acceleration
  • to feel their weight and operate normally
  • as if they were under gravity
  • and not be oriented parallel to the acceleration
  • like you've always seen.
  • And then there's the battle itself.
  • A real space battle wouldn't look like an aerial dog fight.
  • It look more like asteroids.
  • In space, because there's no air
  • for either pressure waves or screams,
  • bombs wouldn't be nearly as effective,
  • but projectiles would.
  • Because there's no air resistance in space,
  • if you apply any amount of force to some mass,
  • that projectile will continue off in a straight line
  • at some constant velocity forever
  • until it hits something.
  • Why do they let him keep doing this?
  • No.
  • Guns and rail guns and not torpedoes and bombs
  • would be a real starfighter's armaments,
  • but the science doesn't stop there.
  • Because everything with mass and velocity has momentum
  • and momentum is conserved,
  • if you fire mass away from you in the form of weaponry,
  • it can speed you up or slow you down.
  • So, in a real space battle,
  • you wouldn't always see spaceships
  • only firing directly forwards
  • in the direction that they are trying to accelerate in
  • because that would rob them of velocity
  • due to the conservation of momentum.
  • More likely you would see ships firing
  • not along this acceleration vector
  • because if they lose velocity,
  • that means they have to use precious fuel.
  • But the biggest thing you would notice
  • about a real space battle is how the ships moved.
  • In space, there's no air to slow you down,
  • so if you accelerated in one direction,
  • you would continue on at some constant velocity
  • in a straight line forever.
  • Unless you applied some deceleration to your craft,
  • you would whiz past your target
  • or smash into a space station.
  • You would have to spend just as much time
  • slowing down as speeding up.
  • This is why unless their designs changed,
  • a sci-fi ship like the X-wing
  • would be doing a lot of that,
  • which we can all agree looks ridiculous.
  • So, if every space battle you've seen is wrong,
  • what would be right?
  • Well, you'd see box shaped ships
  • firing projectiles silently
  • in directions that wouldn't rob them of velocity
  • according to directions they got on a time delay
  • from some command in a way that they could input
  • onto touch based screens.
  • If you see any of that in a movie or video game or TV show
  • and you're a nerd like me,
  • you know that
  • this is where the fun begins.
  • Because Science.
  • Thank you so much for watching.
  • Make sure to follow me on Twitter at @Sci_Phile,
  • where you can suggest ideas for future episodes,
  • and on Facebook, where I have posted
  • a very special edition of this episode today
  • on Nerdist's Facebook page.
  • If you're a fan of hard sci-fi,
  • I think you're gonna like it.
  • Go check it out.
  • And on Instagram under the same name,
  • where I'm now posting mini episodes.
  • Bye.
  • When you're on Earth,
  • if you're in a dog fight in an airplane,
  • it makes sense that you'd be facing each other
  • like this in the air
  • because there's a common reference point of where down is.
  • But if you're in space for a space battle,
  • there's no down.
  • Technically, every direction could be down.
  • So, why is every spaceship
  • when they meet in a battle like this?
  • Like in Star Trek, they always meet like this.
  • In reality, if they're supplying their own gravity somehow,
  • they should be able to meet like this,
  • and it wouldn't matter.
  • But they don't.
  • Maybe because it makes it look weird
  • when you try to gesture it.

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SURPRISE BECAUSE SCIENCE CHANNEL! Subscribe now and click the shiny notifications bell so you don’t miss out on all things science and pop culture.
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We’ve seen plenty of epic space battles from Star Wars to Star Trek and a ton of others, but have we been lied to all this time? Kyle shows you the truth on this week’s Because Science!

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