Hyperspeed travel looks wrong: Leicester students
Movie-makers ignore the Doppler shift
Sorry, special effects people, you got it wrong: if the Millennium Falcon can actually do the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs*, Han Solo and his passengers won’t see the stars stretching by.
In fact, they won’t see the stars at all. In addition to slaughtering the inhabitants of the solar system at their destination, the starship travellers will be X-rayed to death without seeing the famous "star stretch" effect.
As pointed out by a group of students at the University of Leicester here, even before a hypothetical starship reaches light-speed, all you’ll see is a big white blob.
The paper Relativistic Optics, written by students for the university’s Journal of Physical Special Topics, points out what should have been obvious to everyone, all along: at realativistic speeds (the students use 0.9999995c as their benchmark), light from stars is no longer visible at all.
Instead, Solo, Chewbacca, the princess, Luke and Obi-Wan Kenobi will be bathed in the X-rays the starlight will be blue-shifted to, and if they’re not killed by that, all they’ll see is the cosmic background radiation, similarly blue-shifted, into visible light.
“It is concluded that the radiation in the field of view of an interstellar traveller will appear as a single cone of light, with the highest intensity observed at the centre of this cone, decreasing radially outwards,” the four students (Riley Connors, Katie Dexter, Joshua Argyle, and Cameron Scoular) write.
They also note that the back-pressure from the incoming radiation will become a big problem for the Millennium Falcon: the intense X-Rays would slow the ship down.
The point of the journal, the university says, is to teach students how to deal with refereed journals. ®
*Yes, The Register knows that parsec is the wrong unit. Tell George.
That blooper always annoyed me...
...even at the age of 12. I didn't know what a parsec exactly was, but I knew damned well it was a unit of length not frakking speed. Buh! Too much Heinlein at a young age I s'pose (Have Space Suit, Will Travel springs to mind here - it actually contains Dr E's equation for special relativity. In a book for 'young adults'. Harry Potter, eat yer heart out. I'm rambling now, sorry...
"Go fast enough and they can all rip the electrons off your body."
That happened to me once... I found it quite a positive experience.
Re: Did someone
Artistic license means you can say that your spaceship goes faster than any spaceship is capable of, or that your main character can really jump that far and swing around a pole and still shoot straight.
It doesn't account for a script line which basically says that someone is "3 litres tall", or "wider than a cheetah's top speed". It's an error. And I don't see a lot of time wasted on it, but it's certainly wrong.
Part of the filmmaker's job is to suspend disbelief and make us think we are "there". Someone saying something completely nonsensical, stupid and wrong and NOBODY present in the movie questioning it does the opposite. We all just go "What? Did I hear that right?" and miss a minute of the film while we all laugh at it.
And, literally, the fix was to get someone in who knew the tiniest bit about space (I mean, literally, even a student spots the error!) on your space-themed movie and have them look things over. On a multi-million dollar budget, I'm sure you could hire, say, a PhD for a day just to look over your script.
This is basic diligence when writing scripts, also. Star Trek (the other nerd-franchise that I don't watch) used to have the script-writers write "insert techno-babble here" and then they'd pass it off to a real scientist who would insert the bits about Heisenberg Compensators etc. (which is what artistic license REALLY allows). It costs nothing, it aids in the suspension of disbelief, it stops you looking like an idiot, and it stops making X% of your fans CRINGE every time they hear the line.
If you want an example of this in the modern day - try getting something wrong in The Big Bang Theory. It would be stupid, and embarrassing but we still would give you an awful lot of artistic license when in comes to most stuff. But even Howard using the wrong unit, unless it was a plot element and picked up on by the other characters, would jar in people's heads and make them forget they are watching entertainment - and that's the ONLY job you have if you making TV or films.
I find it a real bugbear of mine that films where people do incredibly stupid things for no reason other than to support a badly structured plot really annoy me. It makes me switch off and not watch the film again. This is on a par with the "Oh, the chainsaw murderer is after us, so we'll all split up, not call the police, not prepare a defensive weapon, hide out in a convenient abandoned cabin, get killed off one-by-one through our own stupidity and separation, and then the last one will run through an empty, dark forest they don't know late at night while they know the murderer is outside and inevitably trip over something (and only then will we realise that the weird one in the group was the murderer all along). Then we might 'capture' the murderer, and lock him in a room with a nice large window and convenient replacement weapons."
By comparison, say, Aliens: "I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit." Good man. Let's go. Even "The Thing": Let's gather everyone in a room, aim guns at them, formulate some sort of test and burn the hell out of whatever one turns out to be the alien (or just wait forever guarding them if we can't find out) - about the only "odd" point of that movie is locking a man they think is going insane in an outside hut while it all goes on, which is perfectly feasible in the circumstances, but a little odd that they forget about him so much.
You have to "believe" in the characters. The ones who do stupid things (and, let's face it, that line is there SPECIFICALLY to show off how fast his ship is, and fails to do that and everyone he speaks to takes it utterly seriously), you can't believe in.