When an asteroid slams into the moon, it sends debris hurtling through Earth’s atmosphere. The damage seems minor — until unusual electromagnetic glitches begin to occur, leading scientists to a shocking discovery. With only 39 days to prevent Earth from colliding with the moon, astronauts set out on the most important space mission ever.
Director: Michael Rohl
STC Genre: Dude with a Problem (Epic)
OK, I actually watched it. I admit it. (See my previous post for context.) I watched it with one and only purpose – to find out how low a movie can go while still be a relative commercial success. Now I believe I discovered an entirely new movie genre – a Comedy-masquerading-as-Thriller. No, seriously, just like a bunch of reviewers on IMDB, I was laughing my ass off in all the wrong places at the incredibly ingenious idiocy of the screenwriters and the rest of the filmmakers of this, err… film.
To the filmmakers’ credit, the story structure, the cast, the acting, the cinematography, and even the special effects looked quite good. It’s the content that made my coffee go through my nose as another unexpected turn of “science” [pardon my French] “fiction” unfolded on the screen.
Let’s look at it more closely – just because it’s (a perverted kind of) fun.
The opening image starts off with the meteor shower. Normally, meteors hit us in a particular direction, and in the sky it looks as if the “falling stars” emanate from a single point in the sky. It’s like driving through a tunnel and watching the lights on the walls. In the movie, the meteors rush right through the entire sky in parallel lines, originating from no particular place.
A huge rock hitting the Moon – ok, for a moment it looked believable. The huge crater, however, wouldn’t leave such jagged canyons on a planet as big. Try throwing a rock real hard into a sand hill and watch what happens.
As a result of the impact, the Moon slowed down in its orbit by 4%. Big deal? Sure. But not as big as what we’ll discover a few minutes later. Turns out, the rogue rock was a tiny super-dense “brown dwarf”. What??? Since when a giant gaseous planet-too-small-to-be-star possesses white dwarf / neutron star properties? And has solid ragged shape? (hint: super-dense objects like white dwarfs are held together by their own incredible gravity force. Tear a piece out – it’ll blow up and dissipate).
Oh, that’s not the funniest part. It’s the mass! The “rock” is twice the mass of the Earth!!! Wow… And the Moon keeps spinning around the Earth? Curiouser and curiouser…What do they say the Moon used to be? 1/6 the mass of the Earth? WRONG! It’s actually 1/81. They totally mixed it up with the gravity force on the surface, which is indeed 1/6 g on the Moon. So the Moon “gained weight” 162x of its original mass.
But before we go any further, let’s do a mind experiment. You (a 162 lb human) are running like a mad deer along the street and suddenly bump full-on into an unsuspecting 1 lb pigeon flying about its business. Your head gets stuck under the pigeon’s tail and you are dragged by the poor bird off the ground towards the nearest roof, because that’s where the bird was going. But you changed the bird’s speed by 4% on impact, so it changed its trajectory and landed on a balcony just under the roof. With you still dangling from under its tail. Poor bird, it’s impact crater must be hurting…
Yes, indeed. If such a small “brown dwarfs” (burp!) were possible, and if it didn’t just puncture the Moon right through to emerge on the other side like a bullet, but instead got stuck somewhere in Lunar core, guess where the Moon would be going? That’s right, the rock would hardly even notice the new “fur-coat” and would just keep moving as it was. Bye-bye planet Earth, you’re on my way…
Next, the NASA “expert” draws an elliptical orbit with the Earth in its geometrical center (note: no longer the heaviest body in the system! They say it themselves!). They should have also made the Sun orbit the Earth, just to make its little brown brother a company. Never mind that Kepler knew better exactly 400 years ago. (hint: the center of mass is always in one of the ellipse’s focal points).
The “sling-shot effect” is another super-blooper. It is also known as “gravity assist”, and is often used by spacecrafts to pick up speed without using much fuel. The way it works is, the spacecraft approaches a planet at higher than escape velocity, and the planet’s gravity redirects its course. Because planets move around the Sun, if the spacecraft “slings” in the direction of the planet’s movement, it effectively adds the planet’s speed to it’s own. The spacecraft then leaves the planet like a rock shot from a sling. That’s why the name. Obviously, you can’t use this effect to change the velocity of an orbiting object (try it with a rock on a string! I’ll watch). Not even if it’s the Moon with a “brown dwarf” (ick!) stuck in its core.
Next they claim the gravity on the Moon has risen to 2x that of Earth. Obviously, they totally can’t tell the difference between mass and gravitational force at the surface. A simple calculation would show that the gravity would be not 2g, but 27g !! (that’s 162 x 1/6g) – enough to turn any human into a puddle of blood and gore on the spot. And that’s assuming the “rock” is in the center of the Moon. Of course, if it’s closer to the surface, the gravity would be even stronger there. No chance in hell for a “man on the Moon”. Not alive, anyways.
And all of this mess in the midst of impact debris hovering over Lunar surface suspended in the vacuum for weeks (!) and looking beautiful just over one of the most sucky powerful gravitational forces in the solar system.
Of course, the General’s plan to nuke the sucker had to fail – no problem with that, but going in just a few days after a gigaton and a half worth of radiation on a Moon’s gravitationally overbearing surface to send a magnetic pulse (!) over a nanowire (!!) to kickstart the Moon’s core magnetic field (!!?) in exactly the required polarity (??) to kick out the “evil dwarf”… Did it occur to them the “dwarf” might spin around and change the polarity? So it would end up clinging harder instead of flying away?? And even if it won’t, shouldn’t the Moon eject away like a peanut from the much heavier “rock”? Like, a pigeon finally kicks you off and you go flying into space. Yeah, right…
On the Moon, the astronauts also had to have some fun before doing anything useful. In the canyon, the girl had to dangle on her space suit glove in 2g gravity before going down (oh, don’t worry, she wasn’t pretty enough anyways), and of course no one would imagine installing the same mapping equipment on the guided missile itself (the special kind whose wings can work in a deep vacuum), so the doomed couple didn’t have to risk their lives by going down first.
And finally – hallelujah! – the plan worked, the Moon splits in two (oops!…) but everything is now stable (how so?) and the Earth is saved (hey, wait, what about that quarter of the Moon precariously falling off? A sequel setup?) The happy man kisses the happy woman, they find each other after a decade of laming around, and the planet celebrates! (Hey, watch out for that slice of pie in the sky – it’s MOVING!!! Uh, nobody cares, I guess I shouldn’t either…)
Click. Next channel.