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8 Movie Plots That Could Have Been Resolved By Science In Minutes

Whilst the vast majority of movie plots could usually be solved by people just frigging talking to each other for once, there are another subset of storylines that could have easily been resolved, had somebody just thought to “science the s*hit” out of them a la The Martian (although, the infamous opening dust storm proves that even The Martian isn’t immune to this).

It’s one thing to riddle your movie with “mutated neutrinos” and magic “tesseracts” in order to drive the plot forwards, but to contrive an hour and a half of peril from a situation that could be solved, or even completely averted, by casually running your plan past a scientist is a whole other level.

Perhaps, in all of these films, there’s a lab coated scientists just off camera repeatedly muttering, “Um, guys?” – perhaps, on all of these film sets, there’s a science advisor doing exactly the same, who knows?

Granted, the “sensible” approach would probably be slightly less exciting than sending some rough and ready oil rig drillers to blow up an asteroid, or do battle with an army of out of control robots, or whatever else ignites your testosterone taper, but it’s a fun thought experiment nonetheless.

8. The Aliens Don’t Need Earth – Battle: Los Angeles

Columbia Pictures

It is implied in Battle: Los Angeles that the aliens have come to Earth to plunder it for its resources, specifically, its water.

We often hear about how Spaceship Earth is a unique little snowflake in the big bad universe, what with the presence of life and liquid water, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any water anywhere else. In fact, it is one of the most abundant substances in the universe.

In fact again, the one thing that does give the Earth its Special Snowflake status (although the existence of the invading aliens rather diminishes that status) is the thing that prevents the aliens doing exactly what they want: Humans.

If they were looking for resources, they could have found them in abundance and undefended in the rest of our solar system. Hell, Jupiter’s moon Europa is thought to harbour more water than all of the Earth’s oceans combined beneath its icy surface. Alternatively, they could mine it in frozen form, along with huge amount of other precious elements, from the vast asteroid belt or vast Oort Cloud.

If they were looking for somewhere to live, it is difficult to believe that these system-hopping alien beings could have found a nice, habitable exoplanet anywhere else in the galaxy. Preferably one that isn’t already bristling with guns.

7. Check The Blood – Contagion

Warner Bros. Pictures

Passing over, for a second, the unlikely notion of two viruses combining in a single organism and immediately becoming transmissible to humans, the scientists in Contagion appear to overlook one crucial lead that could result in a cure for one of the deadliest epidemics in human history.

Matt Damon is immune to the disease.

Matt Damon. Is immune. To the disease.

Did nobody think to get the apparently immune husband to Patient Zero into the lab for a once-over?

If he was producing antibodies to fight off the contagion, this could have helped in the swift production of a vaccine. If he was somehow genetically immune to the disease, perhaps in a similar way to those with the genes for sickle cell anaemia are resistant to malaria, then they would have a much better understanding of exactly how the disease infects its host.

Maybe it would have turned out to be a false lead. Perhaps Damon’s character, Mitch Emhoff, was just an asymptomatic carrier, but it would probably be worth taking a quick look. You know, just in case it saves millions of lives.

6. Don’t Build Killer Robots – I, Robot

20th Century Fox

In the classically dystopian future, humanoid robots serve the human race’s every need. That is until they rise up in the attempt to destroy their masters on the orders of renegade head-cube AI, VIKI.

Right, couple of things. Firstly, the humans lose some significant ground as they faff around quoting the Three Laws, despite the fact that Isaac Asimov spent most of his creative energy demonstrating how flawed they are. Granted, it would be a bit meta to start referencing the works of Asimov within an Asimov story, so we’ll let that one slide.

Secondly, and more pertinently, why exactly have these household robot assistants been equipped with the ability to run at 100 mph, leap 50 feet and slam their fists through tables?

A super-intelligent AI bent on saving humanity from itself is all very well, but if it only has a bunch of weakling butler-bots at its disposal then it probably won’t get very far.

Avoiding the robot uprising could have been as simple as ensuring that your robots are capable of folding washing, but not ripping a man’s ribcage open with their bare hands. Maybe something to bear in mind for the future.

5. Deflect Not Destroy – Armageddon

Buena Vista Pictures

So, an asteroid the size of Texas unexpectedly pokes its head out from behind the moon or whatever, and we’re supposed to believe that, in humanity’s entire history of looking up, we’d completely miss something that big and that close.

This thing is the size of Texas. Do you know what else is the size of Texas? Ceres, and we’ve known about that one since the year 1801, so the excuse that the current budget only allows us to track “3% of the sky” is, frankly, piss-weak.

While we’re on the subject, although NASA might only be able to drum up enough cash to peer at a tiny patch of sky, there are thousands of amateur astronomers, not to mention other official asteroid survey projects, out there. They say in the movie that there are only 15 telescopes in the world that could see it, but given the size and proximity of the asteroid, you’d be able to spot it with the naked eye at up to two months before impact, let alone with a cheap telescope from Target.

As the movies scientists didn’t quite manage the “just look up, dumbass” resolution to this plot, the deflection strategy could probably use some work.

The nuke, which will supposedly split the asteroid in two, would never work. They could, however, stick it on one side of the giant space rock and knock it off course.

4. Skip The Humans – The Matrix

Warner Bros. Pictures

As much as it speaks to the existential angst within us all, the chances of a super-intelligent race of machines arriving at the idea of using humans for fuel are pretty slim. This is not because the idea is grotesque, but wildly illogical.

Humans would make extremely poor power sources. A far more efficient strategy would be to take whatever fuel you are using to keep the humans alive, and use that to power your robot empire instead, entirely cutting out the need for leaky human bodies.

Playing fast and loose with the laws of thermodynamics aside, the biggest flaw in the machines’ plan is the matrix itself. In order to keep the humans docile and compliant, they have had to create a vast virtual world for their minds to live in. Not only would the programme itself take a load of precious energy to run, but it’s a glaring weak spot in the machines’ defences, allowing the humans to destroy them from the inside.

So, if you’re a super-intelligent AI, bent on world domination, you might want to consider rendering your human power plants braindead before use. Even better, forget the humans and use any number of the non-self-aware animals on Earth to power your robotic empire.

3. Ultron Is Harmless (Or Dumb) – Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Marvel

I pick on this movie a lot, but only because its f*cking stupid.

For science to solve the plot of this movie, you really wouldn’t have to do all that much at all. Ultron’s actions are motivated by the standard I-was-built-to-protect-humans-but-humans-are-a-danger-to-themselves schtick and so sets out to destroy them by, er, dropping a city?

Turns out that, for a supercomputer, Ultron is pretty bad at maths.

If the goal is global extinction of the human race is what you’re after, you want to get as close to recreating something like the Chicxulub impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. That asteroid was 10 km wide and came screaming from outer space at 20 km/s, the fragment of the earth’s crust that Ultron threatens to drop from somewhere in the atmosphere is no more than a kilometer.

The impact would probably obliterate the town, but with around the same power as the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima. Not great, but not exactly world ending either – The Avengers were probably best focusing their energies on evacuating the tiny spit of land and letting him get on with it.

2. Take The High Ground – San Andreas

Warner Bros. Pictures

Far be it from me to criticise anything Dwayne The Rock Johnson does, for the man is a god amongst men, but perhaps we could science it a little.

The mega-super-whizzo-earthquakes that rippled up and down the San Andreas fault would have been truly terrifying, so how do we science our way out of that one?

Well, a major destructive force is the towering tsunami, so, ignoring for a second that an earthquake with its epicentre on land would not produce a tsunami, how do you survive something like that?

Luckily for the inhabitants of San Fran, tsunamis come with their own early warning system known as drawback – something that Dwayne The Rock Johnson expertly recognises in his infinite wisdom – whereby the ocean will appear to recede impossibly far and fast. This could give up to 10 minutes warning for the incoming wall of water.

Except, a tsunami is generally not a wall of water, but an insistent influx of fast moving flood water like a high tide on steroids. This would mean that you could use your 10 minutes to get to the upper floors of a tall (ish) building, or even to the Twin Peaks area of San Francisco.

1. Grow The Crops On Earth – Interstellar

Warner Bros. Pictures/Paramount Pictures

Okay, aside from the bigger issues of flinging a spaceman into a black hole and expecting to get something other than spaceman soup back out, the whole thing could have been sorted without the death defying plunge into the singularity.

The whole endeavour is booted off in response to a crop blight on Earth that threatens the survival of humans and leads NASA on a mission to find an Earth 2.0. The future of the human race hangs in the balance, dependent on whether we can find new, unblighted pastures on which to grow our food. This could be a new planet or, I don’t know, an artificial habitat a bit like the Cooper Station.

Given that the Cooper Station is basically a space age Garden of f*cking Eden, NASA clearly has the ability to grow plentiful crops under artificial conditions, so why exactly are we faffing around with black holes and exoplanets?

You wouldn’t even have to fire any humans off into space, but simply build these artificial pastures here on earth. If you can sustain a human population in the cold vacuum of space, you can do it in a glorified greenhouse on earth.

Problem solved and no one needs to swan dive any wormholes.

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