FUN: Hollywood Howlers

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Science  05 Jul 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5578, pp. 19
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5578.19b

Two entertaining sites put movies through peer review, exposing the liberties filmmakers often take with math and physics. Math in the Movies rates more than a dozen films and a couple of plays with math content, from The Seven Samurai to this year's Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind, a biography of game theorist John Forbes Nash. Cheeky commentaries rank each film's mathematical accuracy.

At Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics, engineer-turned-writer Tom Rogers and his two sons scrutinize recent sci-fi or effects-filled movies for good physics—rarely finding it. Titanic's mawkish story line might have made you gag, but the epic earns the second-highest rating for realistic scenes of the liner's sinking. At the other end of the spectrum, laughable blunders infest 1998's Armageddon, in which Bruce Willis and a plucky team of oil drillers attempt to save Earth from a Texas-sized asteroid. The site also provides a primer on frequent gaffes, from thundering explosions in space (no air to transmit the sound waves) to giant insects (too heavy for their limbs to support).

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