If I watch this I hope the Moon *will* hit the Earth

By Phil Plait | June 15, 2009 7:25 am

I heard rumors about this a while ago, but now a trailer is out for it: "Impact", a science fiction mini-series that’ll air on ABC next week (starting June 21). On the plus side, it stars Natasha Henstridge, who I think is pretty cool (I loved the first season of "She Spies"). On the minus side is every other single thing about this show. Here, suffer through this first.

I know, we’re all a little bit dumber for having watched that. The Bad Astronomy is strong with this one. A meteor shower that blasts the Moon is not totally implausible, but one that blows off chunks like that? I don’t think an asteroid big enough to do that would be hidden behind other smaller ones, which is fairly firmly in the "duh" category. And they’re not meteors! They’re just asteroids; meteors are when they are burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.

But then it totally goes off the rails. Brown dwarf chunks? Uh, what? A brown dwarf is a mega-planet, an object just barely too small to be a star but much more massive than Jupiter. "A chunk of brown dwarf" makes as much sense as saying a chunk of Saturn’s atmosphere.

And it takes a LOT of energy to move the Moon appreciably from its orbit. Anything massive enough to do that would vaporize or at least seriously damage the Moon upon impact. Yet we see it later in the trailer looking exactly the same as now (and with the same face pointed toward us, which is wrong too).

Don’t even get me started on the electromagnetic effects. Erf.

The verdict: if I have time, I’ll watch it, but I expect this to set a new nadir for astronomically-based TV that previously was occupied by the likes of "Doomsday Rock". But just to be safe, I’ll put my brain in a jar and bury it in the back yard first. No need to damage it any further after that trailer.

Tip o’ the air sickness bag — which I’ll need — to io9.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Humor, SciFi, TV/Movies

Comments (201)

  1. Nija

    Do they get anything right in that clip?

  2. jb

    dam… got an error for the youtube clip up in Canada..
    dam..
    jb

    edit..working now…ghesh…wish it never did..hate to be the “science writer” on that show.. lose some crdibility lol

  3. It has long been my dream to write and make science fiction movies where the science is important and as accurate as I can possibly get it. These movies would not have any audience outside a few geeks. Maybe that’s a good thing.

    In the meantime, I’ve been planning a “bad movie science” podcast for some time, and I just keep putting it off (the reason has to do with the amount and reliability of the bandwidth required to receive and record several Skype calls at once). The idea would be to do a panel show with experts blasting mainstream movies and shows for their lack of due diligence, and the viewing public for believing some of the tripe. Maybe now would be a good time?

  4. Jon

    My brain just crawled out of my ear and beat me with a stick for watching that. Thanks :/

  5. Wow. That was actually looking mildly not so awful (said the guy who was entertained by “The Core”)…and then people started to float. Um.

    I have read some awesome “BDO Hits the Moon” books though: “Moonfall” by Jack McDevitt was very good, and which I should read again one of these days. And I just read a YA novel called “Life as We Knew It” by Susan Beth Pfeffer, where the science was a little wonky (something big enough to knock the Moon close enough to cause those catastrophes would probably also destroy it, I think), but the rest of the book was so astoundingly good I didn’t care.

  6. Utakata

    I dunno. Why didn’t they script a nuclear accident on the moon, sending it and it’s colonized inhabitants visiting other star systems…oh wait!

  7. Jim Ernst

    People around the world are gathered together to watch a meteor shower at the same time? They even got the day/night thing screwed up!

  8. That’s the problem with having a blog pointing out astronomical mistakes in the media. The work is so depressingly regular. At least you will never run out of things to blog about.

  9. Ben

    Ah well, didn’t we all enjoy Space 1999 too?
    (edit: Utakata, you beat me to it!)

  10. 0_O

    I think I got a brain cramp.

  11. Patimus

    May I have your brain, Phil?

  12. Patimus

    What does fiarly mean?

  13. magista

    Should we even try to muster up a crumb of gratitude that they launched “scientists” to deal with the problem and not oil riggers?

    Yeah, that’s all I’ve got. Now I have to go read something to try to reclaim my lost IQ points…

  14. kikilis

    ..I.. I think I just regurgitated a bit…
    But i didn’t puke..

  15. rob

    hmmm…i feel like i need to blow brown dwarf chunks.

  16. Brian M

    Darren, a movie with good science doesn’t have to appeal only to geeks. A good story is a good story and the best science fiction is always a good story backed with reasonably feasible science as a backdrop.

  17. Brown

    And of course, rocks don’t go “Whoosh!” before hitting the Moon and “Blammo!” after they do.

  18. OtherRob

    I saw the trailer for this yesterday and my first thought was of Phil. :)

  19. SafirXP

    hahahahah! this was good! :D

    since we’re talkin about science fiction, any news on the status of Rendezvous with Rama movie?

  20. CameronSS

    Hey, there’s a second plus…James Cromwell, who played Zephram Cochran in First Contact.

    Most painful bit for me was the diagram of the moon orbiting the earth, and spiraling in…seconds after they said “the moon is now twice as heavy as the earth.” Shouldn’t that make the Earth orbit the Moon?

  21. amphiox

    Darren, I remember watching Babylon 5 back in the day, and noting that their attempt to model real world physics in the space battles (I don’t know how well they actually succeeded in this, though) made those sequences more interesting and compelling to watch.

    Sometimes I think that all this bad movie science has got to be deliberate. They are specifically targeting a segment of audience that will go see these things specifically because they get their kicks out of spotting all the errors and then discussing it ad infinitum with all their friends, and they will go back and watch it again with those friends, to point out the specific scenes, and they will buy the DVD so they can extract the specific frames in question and analyse them sequentially with various image software, and blog about it.

    Yes I know the Fell Beast of Parsimony eats this theory for lunch, but still.

  22. Gareth

    I saw this when it was on TV over here a month or so ago. It was phenomenally bad.

    It also had the obligatory atheist (Henstridge) who, by the end of the film, finally accepts that religion and God may just have something to do with saving mankind.

    *vomit*

  23. majkia

    What makes it worse is the deep male voice sounding sepulchral. Talk about melodrama.

  24. Utakata

    @ #8, Ben:

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist. <3

  25. nobody

    OMG!!! OMG!!! I’ve lost more brain cells by watching this trailer than after I have drank a dozen beers…

  26. Stone Age Scientist

    Ha, Phil, and who would put your brain inside the jar? Professor Myers? Is that how you bury the hatchet with him? :)

    Attention Mrs. BA: put Phil’s body in the fridge until his Brain comes out to reclaim it.

    In the meantime, I need a barf bag myself for thinking about such dreadful things. 8O Ugh…

  27. Phil please talk about this when you are interviewed on Skeptically Speaking this week

  28. Patimus

    more emoticons :)

  29. T.E.L.

    This is right up there with The Black Hole (2006): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0433883/

    Like so many of the best sci-fi TV movies (e.g., The Andromeda Strain), it was filmed in Vancouver, the Hollywood of Vancouver.

  30. omellet

    I think I prefer this sober documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Csj7vMKy4EI

  31. *cries*

    Also? Meteors don’t streak parallel to one another, but radially from a point on the sky. I had a few more, but I think everyone else got them. This looks to be terrible; they couldn’t even get Newtonian gravity right. I think I do feel stupider for watching that. :(

  32. bradley547

    Since I can’t be the first to make a Space 1999 reference, I’ll just say that this clip is awesome if you imagine it with a laugh track and some “Yakkety Sax” in the background.

  33. I couldn’t even watch the rest after the people being pulled up in the air toward the moon, and the comment that the moon was now twice as heavy as the Earth. How is that even possible?

  34. Quiet Desperation

    The anime series Cowboy Bebop did it best. One of the early hyperspace gateways on the Moon overloads and blows a huge chunk of the Moon out. It all just sort of hangs around Earth’s orbit in a billion pieces, and the Earth is regularly peppered by meteors and they spiral in. Most are tiny, but some make big hits. There’s guys who make their living chasing down the impact sites and selling the data to the mapmakers. Fortunately, most of the Solar System had been terraformed and colonized by this point.

    The best “moon getting closer” shot was in the newer Time Machine film. Just a quick shot in the sky of the Moon drifting by, but it was nicely creepy.

    Also, I’d like to say I do NOT wish for the death of billions (by lunar collision) because of a bad sci-fi flick. ;-)

  35. Stone Age Scientist

    Phil, thanks for reigniting my (amateur) interest in astronomy. I always knew that the moon faces us in only one direction, but never thought that in order to achieve that effect, it has to rotate.

    Now forgive me if I say that I was still muddled even after having read your article Spinning The Moon. I did perform the experiment you asked: about marking an X on a ball, and having that ball rotate around another ball (which is the representation of Earth). Even as an outsider looking into the Earth-Moon System, it seemed unlikely that the Moon could be rotating whilst only facing us in one direction.

    So I did a casual research in order to forever clarify the matter (clarification of which you started), and found this video on Youtube.

    You’re right. If the moon weren’t spinning at all, we would then see all its sides as it orbits around us.

    My question now is, will synchronous rotation really eventually happen to the Earth (with relation to the sun)? That would be like Romulus, right?

  36. llewelly

    What does fiarly mean?

    Phil had to invent a new word to describe the stupid.

  37. Gary

    At least, after “39 days” this will all be over. There’s that…

    Gary

    P.S.: Dang! I forgot about all the reruns on the cable channels who can’t afford anything else.

  38. BJN

    You HAVE to watch it. You’re the Bad Astronomer — you suffer the lunacy so that we don’t have to. On the plus side, I’m betting that the plucky band of astronomers figures out how to use alternative physics to save the Earth, God bless ‘em.

  39. Phil,

    Your post reminded me of another craptacular movie from the SciFi Channel (go figure) called “Earthstorm”:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0491764/

    It’s not exactly like “Impact” but it has a similar idea: the moon is hit by an asteroid and one of the Baldwins has to save mankind.

    Well, OK, Mr. Stephen Baldwin isn’t in “Impact” either, but in both movies (series) they go to the moon to drop a bunch of bombs.

    This movie was found while really bored one Saturday night and channel-surfing. And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it :)

  40. Help! My brain asploded!

    If a brown dwarf hit the moon, it’ll eat the earth too, wouldn’t it. Since, a brown dwarf is like ganormous compared to the earth.

  41. T.E.L.

    Susan B. Said:

    “I couldn’t even watch the rest after the people being pulled up in the air toward the moon, and the comment that the moon was now twice as heavy as the Earth. How is that even possible?”

    What they said (at superfast trailer-speed) is that a lump of “brown dwarf” plowed into the Moon and got stuck in there. It has very large mass, and so the Moon-dwarf-combo is more massive than Earth. I think they confused brown dwarf with white dwarf. A brown dwarf isn’t especially more dense than rocky planets tend to be (it’s probably even less dense).

    But, if a lump that massive and dense crashed into the Moon, it’d just pulverize the Moon and keep on going.

    The fluctuations in gravity are “possible” (heavy emphasis on the quotes!), but only in the sense that a super-strong magnetic field can affect neutral matter by diamagnetic properties. In fact, it’s just not gonna happen by accident out in the wild.

    And the Moon, as an orbiting satellite, can only spiral steadily inward if it’s orbital velocity is being steadily changing, that is to say, if it’s being steadily shoved backward. Otherwise, the impulse delivered by the initial impact will only alter the shape of the orbit’s ellipse, once & for all.

  42. I wholeheartedly agree. I mean, they said this was the best meteor shower in 10,000 years, but everyone knows the Earth was only created 7,000 years ago!

    /kidding

  43. Padawanpooh

    As a Brit I want to know what the heck the BBC were thinking allowing their news channel design to be used in this rubbish, and where that dreadful actor posing as the stuffy BBC news presenter came from.

    Does this infusion of American cash to the Beeb mean my TV licence fee will be cheaper next year, or will we have this miniseries inflicted on us over this side of the Atlantic?

    I suppose it could mean more Doctor Who & Torchwood being made though…*tries to be optimistic*

  44. I think I’ll pass on watching this… don’t want the bad science to infect me.

  45. james wheaton

    Most of the comments I have read on this blog are kind of fun – maybe that’s as far as we ought to go. But there is something more serious about this kind of thing. ABC has some big players at the top like any major corporation does, who make decisions which involve big money. Some must know just how bad this series is – not only is it seemingly a conglomeration of already used impact movie plots, but the (non)science appears to set a new water mark for idiocy. Can it be that ABC actually thinks this series will be a big deal for them? If it turns out to be a success (i.e. good ratings), what does that say about the US populace….

  46. Yojimbo

    That was painful, even with the sound off. I think they thought a brown dwarf was like a neutron star. ” I mean, it’s brown, right? So it has to be heavier than if it’s white, right?”

  47. Kyle

    OK that really did make my head hurt. So I guess brown dwarf material is super-gravitic or something? Yikes this will set back good science in movies years.

  48. Tony

    You are all ripping it, but I’ll bet at least half of you will still watch it. I will, if only to laugh.

  49. Richard Smith

    On the point of “brown dwarf chunks,” once any chunk of brown dwarf was outside the gravitic influence of its parent, wouldn’t the atomic forces take over once more and pretty much blow it into dust as all the atoms continued to push against each other?

    Minus the heavy Moon, this sounds a bit like the TV movie “Earthstorm,” where a meteor hits the Moon, creating an instability which, if not stopped by The World’s Best Demolitions Expert, will split the Moon in two, all resultant bits falling to the Earth and wiping out humanity. If only there were some central point of mass about which all the Moon-y bits could congregate using some strange force based on mass and volume…

  50. @ gareth:

    It also had the obligatory atheist (Henstridge) who, by the end of the film, finally accepts that religion and God may just have something to do with saving mankind.

    American media seems to be going through one of its periodic “end of everything” cycles. There was some horrible apocalyptic movie on one of the networks last night, and I hear there are several “2012: A Mayan Idiocy” projects in the works.

    I’m sure someone less lazy than me (about 99% of the population) could figure out a correlation between these doomsday cycles and American politics or sunspots or something. I suspect this current one has something to do with the evil Muslim/antichrist/non-old white guy in the Oval Office, but that’s just the laziness talking.

  51. Ah I can see the increase of new The Sky is Falling people. The same people who believe Nibiru is going to smack into the earth or when the planets align, the forces of gravity will be too much for our planet to handle and KABLOOEY!

  52. Bob

    Time for Salvage-1 to make the rescue….

  53. Personal SinR

    Would it kill the budget to hire science advisors!?

  54. Maria

    Wow, this is just a step above “bad movie of the week on Sci Fi channel”. I think I suffered a mild stroke while watching it! I might watch it just for laughs. *SHUDDER*

  55. Doc

    Gah! Thanks, Phil – I’ve just lost about 50 IQ points.

    Im gonna go wach COPS an drink sum beers now.

  56. Alex

    Ha! I’ve been wondering when this would come out. They filmed parts of it at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, where I work. They ran the script by some of the Astronomers up here to check its plausibility and got mostly facepalms in response. Apparently that equates to a rousing two thumbs up in the world of the sci-fi miniseries.

  57. zaardvark

    6000 km / min = 100,000 m/s or 1/3 the speed of light. That’s a fast chunk of rock/metal.

  58. bliprob

    Sorry, Phil. This is your chosen field. You started this blog calling out the bad science in movies. This is what you do, and do well, better than anyone else. I’m begging you, watch this sucker.

  59. dhtroy

    Frankly, what I find more disturbing than all the gross inaccuracies of TV shows like this one, are the number of people that watch it, believing it could actually happen.

    I’m sure many of you here have seen the website I am about to post the link to, but just in case you have not (it’s a lot of fun to read):

    How To Destroy The Earth

  60. theMark

    Ouch! Then again, it seems to take place in an alternate universe, where things are strangely similar to ours, EXCEPT for the physics part. Y’know, kinda like THE CORE. I liked The Core. In that campy, over-the-top way. People shouldn’t even begin to hope to get an edumacation from their TV set these days, sad as that may be.

    Maybe TV stations should be forced to start each broadcast with “Not Based On Real World Rules” or something :)

  61. Umm, guys, and ladies… this is science FICTION….

    I can’t see it being any worse than, say a movie that involves a nuclear explosion on the Moon, ripping it from its orbit…

    Oh, I see that’s already been covered…

    How about being anymore nonsensical than a “Doctor” that rides around in a Police Box…?

  62. If you watch this right it is very good for your brain. You just have to tell it that what it is about to watch is comedy.

    Laughter is good for your brain – and booooyyyyy did this rediculous teaser make me laugh!!

  63. Chris

    is “Brown dwarf chunks” some kind of euphamism?

  64. Well, I’m not watching it… I’m already stupid enough, thank you very much…

  65. Junkit

    Ummm…

    Yeah…

    I think I’m going to have to go have a child and then refuse immunization shots just to regain some brain power after watching that trailer.

    Oh, and, this may just be a good reason to increase copyright restrictions. That way, any movie dealing with an object hurtling towards Earth is prevented from being made ever again.

  66. What did people expect? One of the “Big Three” (HA!) to actually produce a well planned and intelligent show?

  67. Brain.wav

    Saw that last night on TV… my reaction was akin to The Doctor seeing the Titanic crash through the wall of the TARDIS.

  68. JeffS

    Check your math zarrdvark, you’re off by about three orders of magnitude.

  69. RL

    Hmm. I’ll probably DVR it and watch it when I can. Thanks for drawing attention to it. I might have missed it.

  70. Paul

    Michael L says “Umm, guys, and ladies… this is science FICTION…. ”

    Oh, the old “But it’s science fiction–it isn’t supposed to be good” argument. Real science fiction–the stuff in books, not the stuff you see on TV or in the movies–can be and used to be quite accurate on the science. When Arthur C. Clarke wrote about a radio relay station in geosynchronous orbit with technicians on board to swap out vacuum tubes and whatnot, he may have missed the boat on the technology but the science was spot on. (He also wrote a lesser-known followup story in which someone realized that he could make big money using geosynchronous satellites to broadcast material that was too raunchy for network TV.) The orbital mechanics that drive the plot in Heinlein’s The Rolling Stones were all accurate–he and Virginia had to work it all out with paper and slide rule. His version of Mars is no longer plausible, alas, but back then no probes had been sent yet.

    Oh, Phil said “…makes as much sense as saying a chunk of Saturns’ rings.” I thought that Saturn’s rings were chunky, up to about automobile-sized. OK, so you can’t deliver a mountain of ice like in Asimov’s “The Martian Way”, but chunky enough.

  71. Paul, I meant like “an intact chunk” so I’ll fix that.

  72. Rob

    Is this a joke? I thought it could not get any worse than Armageddon, but Impact looks like it might be the new king of the bad-science hill. Brown dwarf chunks? Meteors in space? Electro-magnetic fields overriding local gravity? It hurts my brain and makes me cry a little inside, especially considering the fact that 75% of Americans will not see anything wrong with any of it.

  73. Flak

    What’s so foolish is that it’d have been so easy for the producers to get the science right. They could have gone to… well any decent astronomy student really, and said “Hey, we’re producing this TV show and we need SOMETHING catestrophic to happen to the moon that would cause its orbit to erode and eventually hit the Earth, can you help?” Said person would have given them a far better doomsday scenario and *bingo* halfway decent science. Of course the series would probably have still been crap, but at least the science would have been plausible.

  74. DLC

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste. And this thing wastes big chunks of minds. It’s a Stupid-orite… a giant burning hunk of space stupid.

  75. Joseph

    @ Michael L: The Doctor in the police box is well explained by numerous fans using known science and a fare amount of good trek type science babble. Though true the Doctor can still be rather goofy I would take him and his Class III or higher civilization built, folded space containing, spacetime warping police box over this heap of Earth destroying asteroid/meteor rubbish any day, farmer Hogget or no.

    Perhaps saying “This is Fantasy!” would make it sound better. Fiction, to me, implies realms of possibility unless that extra word “fantasy” is thrown in too.

    Only way this movie could possibly be redeemed is if James Cromwell finishes the movie with “That’ll do scientists… that’ll do.” and pats them all on the head when they return to Earth.

    Wait… no…

    -Joseph

  76. Zippy the Pinhead

    57. zaardvark Says: “6000 km / min = 100,000 m/s or 1/3 the speed of light.
    That’s a fast chunk of rock/metal.”

    If by 1/3rd you mean 1/3000th, then yes that’s (still) pretty fast.

  77. Laura

    Mmmmm… Brown Dwarf Chunks sound like a tasty breakfast cereal. At least some good came from that clip.

  78. Geoff

    Where’s Duck Dodgers when you need him?

  79. Gary

    @Personal SinR,

    No, it probably wouldn’t kill them to hire science advisors, and in fact, they probably did. The hard part is getting the script writers to listen to them. From one of the other comments here, it sounds like the script was written in a vacuum and *then* run past some science-y folks after being greenlit… and script changes on the order of what would be needed to fix this mess are almost never done at that point, ’cause it’s incredibly expensive.

    I kind of have to wonder if any of the writers from The Core were involved in this… there’s a similar degree of random, pointless electrocution scenes and completely impossible “science” conversations peppered with actual scientific terminology going on here. Jeebus, at least Star Trek and Stargate had the decency to invent new words when they needed to do something crazy…

  80. amphiox

    Regarding the density of brown dwarfs, since they are all about the same volume as Jupiter, and Jupiter is about 0.3x the density of earth, and the mass boundary between super Jovian and brown dwarf as hovering around 15J mass, a 20J mass brown dwarf would be 6x the density of earth, right? And a big brown dwarf on the heavy end of the spectrum, say 60-70J, would be around 20x the density of earth.

    That’s pretty dense, not just ‘around the density of earth’ as previously posted.

    Of course, brown dwarfs are made mostly of hydrogen, so a ‘chunk’ of it somehow separated from the rest would rather rapidly inflate, free of the compressing gravity, and would be no more denser than a ball of hydrogen gas of equivalent mass.

  81. «bønez_brigade»

    Oh, the dumbosity!

  82. Barry

    Can’t James Cromwell could just bend down and lift the moon back into orbit?

  83. Gary Ansorge

    The very least they could have done would have involved an impact with a small(say, 100 meter) chunk of neutron star. Of course, I have no idea if neutronium would be any more stable than highly compressed H2, but at least that “gap” (in knowledge) allows for interesting speculation and a 100 meter chunk of neutronium would be a whole lot easier to hide behind a debris cloud than a near 2Xs earth mass of anything else. My feeling however, is that ANYTHING much more massive than the moon impacting that old rock would impact and then just keep going,,,which would leave us with a big cloud of debris, no point source gravitational effect on earth and no tides(ok, we’d still have solar tides) and w/o tides we’d have no more surfers,,,bummer, Dude,,,

    See how easy that doomsday scenario was???

    GAry 7

  84. #70, Paul
    I did not mean to imply that because it’s sci-fi, it’s bad! What I meant was why can’t people just enjoy it for what it is… science fiction. Leave behind your day jobs as physicists, astronomers, neutrino experts, quark theorists, black hole specialists, kick back, crack a cold one, and watch a movie… chill… ;)

    Hey, they got some science right in this movie! The Moon does orbit the Earth

  85. Blondin

    It’s “Deep Armageddon Meets the Core”!

    I think I’ve figured out how they do this stuff. A bunch of drunken producers story-board a sequence of special effects they want to use in a movie and then they hand it to a bunch of drunken writers and say “create a script to go with this”. Then they use all the bits they liked the best.

  86. Brown Dwarf Chunks sounds like a problem best addressed by a gastroenterologist.

  87. Mchl

    I can haz my IQ bak?

  88. rob

    the science in that trailer gives me the urge to blow “brown dwarf chunks.”

  89. Alien Death-Ray

    I couldn’t make it 2/3 of the way through. Wasn’t that a fiery impact on the moon? And what of this mysterious Brown Dwarf chunk? Being of greater mass, wouldn’t it reach the moons Roche Limit, causing the moon to break apart? If the moon was more fluid, an object of greater mass could become embedded in it.

  90. It just sucks. Oops, in space it actually blows. Oh this does both.

  91. Dave

    This nonsense has already been shown on the Sci-Fi channel, here in the UK. It’s being repeated tonight – in about a quarter hour – and I won’t bother watching it again. There are two great things in its favour:

    1) the cast includes Natasha Henstridge

    2) the cast does not include Stephen Baldwin

    but that’s nowhere near enough to make up for the rest of it.

  92. T.E.L.

    Blondin,

    Disney actually used that approach to producing The Black Hole. The script kept getting rewritten because artists were assigned the job if making up spectacular SFX scenes (out of context), and execs would pick ones they thought had marketing potential. The writers were then instructed to (somehow) work them in.

  93. jay

    bad sci fi is better than no sci fi…..the network could have easily put in a Desperate Housewives marathon for better ratings….ugh

  94. T.E.L.

    Dave,

    Stephen Baldwin could sure use the work: his mansion is under foreclosure. That’s what happens when playing Barney Rubble is the career move of choice.

  95. Mena

    Coming this Fall? June 21? They couldn’t even get that right!
    Solstice, not equinox people…
    Actually while it did look bad from the start, it seemed almost doable until the electricity on the baseball field and people floating on the train. Then it became a trailer for “Plan 9 From Outer Space- the Next Generation”.

  96. Bob

    Bah – they all ready blew up the moon -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Csj7vMKy4EI

  97. bob

    At least we all didn’t go blind and the triffids got loose!

  98. Redstar

    “Brown Dwarf Chunks” is my new favorite phrase.

    Example: “That series looks like a steaming pile of Brown Dwarf Chunks”.

    If you’ll excuse me, I’m now going to repeatedly smash my head against something solid until the knowledge of that trailer is erased.

  99. IVAN3MAN

    Phil Plait:

    I know, we’re all a little bit dumber for having watched that.
    [...]
    “A chunk of brown dwarf” makes as much sense as saying a chunk of Saturns’ atmosphere.

    Possessive apostrophe. ;-)

  100. Selasphorus

    I think I’m in pain.

  101. Dave

    T.E.L.,

    Clearly, then, someone needs to hurry up and finish off that script for Earthshock II. I hope they don’t, though: not because I want Mr Baldwin to be homeless, but because civilisation’s done nothing that deserved the original, much less a sequel.

    Edit: I meant Earthstorm II, of course.

  102. Alex

    I love the grace with which it goes from merely outrageous to complete insanity.

  103. keith

    > Do they get anything right in that clip?

    Isn’t the Earth spinning backwards at the start of the clip?

  104. need to get your IQ back? go rewatch Cosmos

  105. Gareth H

    Well, well, well. I just got back from my usual monday night game of touch rugby and was flicking through the channels. You’ll never guess what I saw on Sci Fi*…

    Yup.

    Impact. Part 1.

    I’m not going to put myself through watching that again though. Terminator 2 is about to start on another channel.

    *UK, btw…

  106. I made it about halfway through before my brain just kind of shut down and reflexively pressed ctrl-W as a matter of self-preservation.

  107. Oh, no! The Moon’s coming to get us! Let’s nuke the snot out of it!!!!!!

  108. @ amphiox:

    Of course, brown dwarfs are made mostly of hydrogen, so a ‘chunk’ of it somehow separated from the rest would rather rapidly inflate

    Didn’t you read the NASA UFOs thread? Gas in space behaves like beach balls hit with a garden hose.

    Dontchaknow.

  109. Matthew Ota

    I will be sure to miss this show. Who wrote the script to this garbage?

  110. Charlie Young

    WHAT!?!?!? What’s the deal with “chunk of brown dwarf”? The moon has twice the mass of the earth after impact? Where do all the electromagnetic disturbances come from? How is the train full of people supposed to float off the ground? And the list of stupid pseudo-science goes on. Will this whole idea float off into the stratosphere and beyond? We can only hope it does…although if gravity can change like that and we can figure out why, maybe we’ll have an answer for the graviton.

  111. IVAN3MAN

    Phil Plait:

    Don’t even get me started on the electromagnetic effects. Erf.

    That mini-series will only appeal to “Electric Universe” nutters. :P

    Matthew Ota:

    I will be sure to miss this show. Who wrote the script to this garbage?

    Probably OilIsMastery (“Electric Universe” nutcase). :P

  112. Bjoern

    I watched a bit of the movie (it aired some weeks ago already on TV here in Germany), and hence I can shed some light on some of the problems discussed here.

    * It isn’t a piece of a brown dwarf (although they keep repeating that in the movie), but judging from the description (IIRC, they said it is the remainder of a burnt-out star or something like that), they mean a black dwarf (white dwarf which has cooled down enough that it doesn’t emit light any more) or a neutron star. They even explain a bit why such a thing would have a very large density and magnetic field (although I doubt that a “chunk” of a black dwarf or a neutron star would keep that density and magnetic field without the strong gravity of the whole star – and I don’t know how such a star is supposed to break to chunks!).

    * Initially, they explain the magnetic levitation superficially right – but then they go off the deep end by babbling about things like “electromagnetic waves”, caused somehow by this magnetic field, hitting the Earth periodically and locally, and causing this levitation. Oh, and for explaining why people are also levitated, they say something like “everything consists of electromagnetic energy, hence magnetic effects work on everything.” Ouch!

    * The moon is said to be in a stable orbit, then the next sentence, it has again moved closer to Earth, then is it said to be stable again etc. Nowhere it is explained how this is supposed to work. Probably they think that planetary orbits can only be changed in quantum jumps… ;-)

    * The nuclear rockets aren’t supposed to push the moon back or pulverize it – the chunk already caused a big rip in the moon by hitting it, and the rockets are only supposed to do the rest of the job. This makes it at least a tiny bit more plausible…

    In some places it becomes visible that there was indeed a science advisor, because some of the explanations indeed sound right at the beginning. Unfortunately, they all don’t remain that way, but quickly go off the deep end…

  113. Davidlpf

    Ivan3man I had the same thought about the EU crowd.

    Also this movie is below “the stupid it burns” category.
    added: I think Armegeddon has serious competition one the worse sci-fi movie ever.

  114. nicolew

    I am SO watching this! This may be the very worst of bad sci-fi. It is an event not to be missed, although I may need a receptacle for any “brown dwarf chunks” that are elicited by this tripe.

  115. Who cares, it’s a TV show.

  116. doofus

    “…one people, with one common cause…”

    What would that be?
    We all move and stand in Australia to cause the Earth to wobble out of the Moon’s way?

    (Could someone quickly cook up that animation please.)

  117. coolstar

    Ah, but if it had good caricatures of old tv show characters AND was written by
    that paragon of getting the science right, J. J. Abrams (anyone see Armageddon?) THEN
    the BA would have loved it!
    I will agree that Natasha Henstridge made She Spies a guilty pleasure……(I know, I know, I do feel bad about that re Gresham’s Law and all).

  118. jf

    Hi Phil,

    fight it with humor. E.g. you might grant it “The BA’s award for the show with the highest density of scientific nonsense outside of the Creation Museum”.

    ;-) Cheers, Jörg

  119. Mike

    The terrible response to this will enable the networks to proclaim, once again, that sci-fi isn’t marketable. That happens every time the spend a fortune on some intellectually dead piece of garbage.

  120. Chris

    Sigh, can’t people be more original when they want to indicate that something is happening worldwide than a shot of the Eiffel tower and someone with a fake/hammed up British accent talking?

    At least science is going to be played as a mysterious benevolent force rather than the evil it often is in such shows.

  121. Albert Bakker

    A few weeks ago I sat through the whole ordeal in silent admiration for the actors, who managed to keep a straight face right until the end.

  122. Gareth H

    @jf:
    —–
    E.g. you might grant it “The BA’s award for the show with the highest density of scientific nonsense outside of the Creation Museum”
    —–
    I don’t think it is quite at the same level as Armageddon for scientific nonsense. It certainly has a LOT of nonsense, but Armageddon gets about one thing wrong every thirty seconds on average! Or something like that.

  123. anon

    During the first few scenes involving the entire world looking up at a spectacular meteor shower, a small part of my brain was hoping you’d cunningly disguised a trailer to a Day of the Triffids remake.
    My hopes were soon dashed.

  124. Chip

    Worst of all, its a “mini-series” and not just a one-off show. But all is not lost. There’s actually a way this could all be salvaged despite the unbelievably bad science and ridiculous non-science:

    Slap some swell songs into it. You know, some snappy dance numbers! Sure. That’s it! Swell!

    And have a witty “comic relief” character making jokes all the time. That will improve it!

    And the moon getting hit, that’s too simple – it needs a subplot – how about in the middle of everything a beautiful alien lady rides in on one of the asteroids, (i.e. “meteors”,) and (get this,) steals the brain of the lead scientist! That’s right – takes his brain and runs off!
    They have to go to the moon, put the moon back on course AND get the scientist’s brain back in his head – with plenty of songs and dance routines!

    Yeah. Sure. Swell! ;)

  125. Porky Pine

    It’s all perfectly simple folks! All you have to do is reverse the polarity of the metaquantum beam and the Moon will return to it’s optimum orbit.

    It’s basic physics fer Chissakes!

  126. Andy

    Errrr….

    “Pants”

    That’s it. That’s all I need to say.

  127. Pete

    Wasn’t James Cromwell the President in “Deep Impact”? Didn’t he learn from that?

  128. T.E.L.

    Pete,

    In Deep Impact the President was played by Morgan Freeman.

  129. Davidlpf

    No, that was Morgan Freeman as the President in “Deep Impact”, but Cromwell is it as supporting character.

  130. “128. Pete Says:
    June 15th, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Wasn’t James Cromwell the President in “Deep Impact”? Didn’t he learn from that?”

    Yes. He learned that no matter how bad the film, they would still give him a pay check at the end.

    Alas.

  131. Stone Age Scientist

    Is that really President Obama @ #116?

  132. 112. IVAN3MAN Says:
    Matthew Ota:
    I will be sure to miss this show. Who wrote the script to this garbage?
    Probably OilIsMastery (”Electric Universe” nutcase). :P

    No, I think OIM was their ‘science advisor’.

    119. jf Says:
    Hi Phil,
    fight it with humor. E.g. you might grant it “The BA’s award for the show with the highest density of scientific nonsense outside of the Creation Museum”.

    I’ve got it! The Annual “Plaitlite”* Awards, worst science in movie, worst astronomy in movie, most outrageous single line, etc.

    *kind of a play on ‘platelets’

    125. Chip Says:

    Slap some swell songs into it. You know, some snappy dance numbers! Sure. That’s it! Swell!

    a beautiful alien lady rides in on one of the asteroids, (i.e. “meteors”,) and (get this,) steals the brain of the lead scientist! That’s right – takes his brain and runs off!

    Did your local ST:TOS syndication just run “Spock’s Brain” this weekend? Did here…

    Springtime for Science and Asteroids….

    J/P=?

  133. This is off the charts ridiculous (although the cast looks reasonable.) Summer pickings are slim so I might tune in, if only to point out its failings.

  134. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    it takes a LOT of energy to move the Moon appreciably from its orbit.

    More precisely, out of that context, it takes a lot of momentum. (Otherwise it would be enough to explode a nuke to counteract any scifi movie bad plot. …, no, targeting Hollywood wouldn’t suffice.)

  135. 23. majkia Says: “What makes it worse is the deep male voice sounding sepulchral. Talk about melodrama.”

    You get my vote for the best use of language in this thread!

    - Jack

  136. 34. Quiet Desperation Says: “The best “moon getting closer” shot was in the newer Time Machine film. Just a quick shot in the sky of the Moon drifting by, but it was nicely creepy.”

    I’m embarrassed to admit that this was the first thing I thought of when watching the teaser. That movie was equally ridiculous, if not more so. Our nuclear waste dump on the moon explodes (hmmm, sound familiar?) and blows it into chunks…which fall to Earth! The moon just erodes from one side (not like gravity would pull it back into a sphere or anything) and the pieces head for Terra Firma like they’re falling from a big balloon suspended up there. Gaak!

    - Jack

  137. defective robot

    Wouldn’t a gravity pull strong enough to pull a bullet train from its tracks rip off the Earth’s atmosphere first?

  138. 58. bliprob Says: “You started this blog calling out the bad science in movies. This is what you do, and do well, better than anyone else. I’m begging you, watch this sucker.”

    I’m still waiting for his review of the new “Star Trek” movie.

    - Jack

  139. 72. Rob Says: “I thought it could not get any worse than Armageddon, but Impact looks like it might be the new king of the bad-science hill.”

    Armageddon, the next generation. Remember that we’ve had more than a decade of dumbing-down of the general culture since that landmark film, and this has to reach further to seem equally absurd.

    - Jack

  140. 133. John Paradox Says: “The Annual “Plaitlite”* (kind of a play on ‘platelets’”)

    What’s wrong with “Plaitlets”?

    Could rank up there with the Razzies.

    - Jack

  141. 132. Stone Age scientist: I don’t think so. See, even I can be Barack Obama. Which adds weight to Ivan3Man’s call for registration.

    100. Ivan3Man: Was your post a correction showing what Phil originally had or what he should have done? Because if the latter, then your apostrophe is one letter too far to the right.

  142. Cairnos

    53. Personal SinR Says:
    June 15th, 2009 at 9:51 am
    Would it kill the budget to hire science advisors!?

    They did, it went something like this:

    “So what did you think of our script?”
    “IT BURNS…OH GOD IT BURNS!”
    (over cell phone) “The science guy says it’s hot, damn hot! Get it into production right away”

    BTW: Obviously brown dwarf chunks are the unrefined form of red matter

  143. Decados

    The scientific advisor of that movie should have EVERY degree of his stripped away… all the way down to his kindergarten graduation.

  144. IVAN3MAN

    #142. Mark Hansen:

    Was your post a correction showing what Phil originally had or what he should have done?

    It is the former case — what Phil had originally written, but he has corrected — which is why I had highlighted the error in red.

  145. owwwwww the Stupid, it hurts so much my nose is bleeding. and i feel dizzy

  146. Quiet Desperation

    Finally got to watch the clip, and I know what it is.

    This miniseries is the backstory lead up to a live action Thundarr The Barbarian series.

    From the cartoon’s opening narration:

    “From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the Moon, unleashing cosmic destruction! Man’s civilization is cast in ruin! Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn… A strange new world rises from the old: a world of savagery, super science, and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice! With his companions Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword against the forces of evil. He is Thundarr, the Barbarian!”

    If you search your heart, you will realize I am correct.

    I nominate Claudia Black for the role of Princess Ariel.

  147. TS

    Now that someone brought up the name, I quite often check out the OilIsMastery blog. It is hilarious, I mean the sheer scale of stupidity is just knee slapping fun and despite me hating internet lingo, it have me ROFL.

    A news article from BBC about how planets orbits in the solar system might change more than earlier thought over periods of millions of years, is seen as a vindication of Velikovsky’s theories.

  148. Flying sardines

    @ # 84. Michael L :

    Hey, they got some science right in this movie! The Moon does orbit the Earth.

    BZZZT! Wrong. :-P

    Our Moon actually orbits a barycenter or common centre of gravity for the Earth-Moon system which is currently – & only just – located within the Earth’s mantle. Our Moon (Luna? Selene?) is gradually from receeding due to a tidal effect and may eventually split from the Earth’s control assuming it survives that long ..

    (Think our Sun may go red giant and vapourise both worlds before this happens?)

    I did not mean to imply that because it’s sci-fi, it’s bad! What I meant was why can’t people just enjoy it for what it is… science fiction. Leave behind your day jobs as physicists, astronomers, neutrino experts, quark theorists, black hole specialists, kick back, crack a cold one, and watch a movie… chill…

    I wouldn’t dignify this steaming pile with the term “Sci-fi.” It is pseudo SciFi-fantasy rubbish.

    More to the point we (okay I) find it hard to watch at any level because it is just so plain dumb. I don’t mind allowing a bit of artistic license but there’s a point beyond which things just get too frustratingly, face-palming-ly dumb for this indulgence. Even done as comedy or childrens cartoon – make that esp. as a kids cartoon because impressionable minds deserve better treatment – it gets a huge FAIL.

    Have you heard of suspension of disbeleif and consistency?

    Imagine you watch a RomCom where Osma bin Laden pops up as the gay love interest for an ultra-camp hairdresser. Imagine a medical drama where the Dr makes his ill patient all better by slamming his head against the wall or a legal drama where the lawyers clever winning defence is “hey ..well … just … because.”

    This really is that level of Stoopid – and fails to even entertain (speaking personally) because of it. If TV producers wouldn’t treat medicine and law for instance with such utter contempt -why is it okay for Science? :-(

    Some nice eye candy with special effects but we need more than just that.

  149. Buzz Parsec

    Joseph, thanks for the Babe references… They help heal the cracks in my skull where my brain was oozing out. There’s a little still left, enough to realize Zaardvark’s math was wrong, but not sure by how much or which way. Is Brown Dwarf Chunks a new brand of chunky peanut butter? Made from tiny peanuts?

    QD, I think you’re right. Claudia Black…. mmmmmm. Chunky Peanutbutter… mmmmmmmm.

  150. Darn it!

    What about the Chandryaan 1 and LRO/LCROSS missions (the former still in orbit around the Moon, the latter about to launch) — what will happen to them NOW?

    Finger nails, finger nails…I need more finger nails….ooooohh :-)

    John

  151. LSandman24

    “That’s no moon…”

  152. Nigel Depledge

    Zaardvark (57) said:

    6000 km / min = 100,000 m/s or 1/3 the speed of light. That’s a fast chunk of rock/metal.

    Um, no.

    C = 300,000 km/s, not 300,000 m/s.

  153. Nigel Depledge

    Personal SinR (53) said:

    Would it kill the budget to hire science advisors!?

    They probably did. They just didn’t listen to them.

  154. Sandy L

    Gee thanks – now I have to watch it… because I watch ALL potential end of the world shows.

  155. SionH

    Why don’t the people who make these types of shows ever consult an expert on such matters, it would only take a phone call .

    Perhaps it’s just that there is no-one out there to answer such questions. If only there were a professional astronomer of some kind would write a book which details realistic ways in which death might actually come at humanity from the skies. Something which presented the ways that the world will end, and available from all good retailers priced at about $26. But perhaps I’m just dreaming…

  156. Greg

    I might watch this just to see eleventy zillion warheads heading to the moon, but I guarantee that I won’t be watching it sober.

  157. Positronic Brain

    This has already aired in Spain. I watched the last 20 minutes of the first episode last night – and it is worse than the trailer makes it look like. Not only is the science a complete wreck, the human drama is nothing to write about.

    Favorite part – when the Protagonist Science Guy says, with a straight face, that we all are made of the same electromagnetic force, so it’s reasonable the moon would pull us to her. Hope it was a translation error. (And people are pulled to the moon, but somehow trees and buildings and everything else is not affected – and they go from full weight to weigthless instantaneously as the moon reaches an exact point in the sky, and then they instantaneously recover their weight some seconds after. Huh.)

  158. Joe Meils

    Finally! A movie that will challenge “The Core” as being the most scientifically inept production of the 21st century! (And this is only 2009…)

  159. Stone Age Scientist

    The Plaitlite Awards?? No, no. How about…

    The Annual Shattered Plait Awards

  160. Nigel Depledge

    Michael L (84) said:

    I did not mean to imply that because it’s sci-fi, it’s bad! What I meant was why can’t people just enjoy it for what it is… science fiction.

    Because proper science fiction recognises the definition of that first word.

    Stuff like this is better described as fantasy fiction.

    Leave behind your day jobs as physicists, astronomers, neutrino experts, quark theorists, black hole specialists, kick back, crack a cold one, and watch a movie… chill…

    Hey, you missed out biochemists! What about biochemists?

    Hey, they got some science right in this movie! The Moon does orbit the Earth

    Absolutely trivial “science”. This has been known for millenia.

    There are always a few people who believe whatever they see on TV as long as it looks plausible to their uncritical faculties. That would be fine, except these people are allowed to vote and drive and (in the USA) buy guns.

  161. Come on guys!

    Can’t believe you missed this so evident mistake in the very beggining of the trailer!

    http://twitpic.com/7jjc3

    Can you spot it? Can you?

    Clear skies!

  162. drow

    hey, if it gets joe six-pack to finally understand the significance and importance of NEO tracking, bring on the stupid.

  163. alfaniner

    M-O-O-N. That spells “Impact”.

    10.5:Apocalypse. Category 7:The End of the World. The Andromeda Strain. Three of the most pathetic, predictable, and annoying disaster miniseries ever. And now this.

    I predict:
    One of the main characters will be divorced, and have to work with the ex-spouse to find a solution.
    The military will nay-say any warnings by the scientists until it is impossible to ignore.
    Only three young, good-looking people will be working on a solution.
    Lots of iconic landmarks will get destroyed.
    There will be a countdown, and the Earth will be saved at the last minute.

    Well, between this one and the new movie “MOON” maybe it will spark a renewed interest in our nearest planetary body.

    eta: I posted before browsing the previous comments. If it’s already been aired then my predictions are moot. (What? I don’t qualify for the $1 million?)

  164. Calli Arcale

    I’m trying to decide which is worse — the science or the acting. I’m tempted to call Poe’s Law on it — this almost seems like a parody. I mean, it contained so many absurd claims it’s hard to believe that wasn’t intentional.

    Unless, of course, I remember the other dreck that gets on the TV…..

    As far as anything done right, well, to paraphrase Phil’s excellent review of Armageddon, it involves the Moon. The Moon does, in fact exist.
    :-P

  165. JoeSmithCA

    What I’d like to know is how do these people get their scripts into film production? I generally switch off my brain when I watch any science fiction because it *is* fiction but a good science fiction and a bad science fiction film is where you stopping thinking about the science when the story is good enough for you to ignore all the plot flaws.

    Comparing to Space 1999–even when I saw it when I was kid old I just couldn’t wrap my brain around a giant rock like the moon being pushed at rediculous speed (ala Space Balls) but the stories where so much fun I forgot about the premise.

  166. Keith

    I swear most cartoons have better science than this. I actually feel like I need to read a textbook or something to make up for watching that.

    And here’s one question. Why is it that all the Moon related stuff happens at night? Hasn’t anyone in Hollywood EVER seen the Moon during the day?

  167. Bicky

    Sounds like a 50′s SF story. Why don’t movie makers for one time consult scientists and stick to physics? In movies…
    Thunder and lightning: will happen at the same moment, even if it is distant. Always. No romantic scene with lightning and delayed rumble.
    Explosions: sound and shockwave are immediately at the scene, even if the explosion is miles away. Looks like light effects 2 meters behind the scene.
    Sounds in space: there are none, stop bothering
    Heroes: never visit the bathroom which is cool and quite handy in space

  168. D Williams

    I am willing to suspend my disbelief, not hang it by the neck until dead, yet I watched.

    As I love bad movies, I sat through this epic with my wife; I don’t think she’s forgiven me yet. The way to watch this is to keep a running total of all the bad science to see if you got it all.
    Here’s the one that got me to laugh out loud; several thousand nuclear warhead hitting the moon make it fall faster, but it only takes one to magnetize it.

  169. SkepTTic

    What’s James Cromwell doing in this?!

  170. Naomi

    WHAT.

    This is clearly not science fiction. The science buggered off a long time ago.

    Why do I get the feeling that this is to astronomy what 10.5 is to geology?

  171. Keith

    This. Is. Stupid. Period. And it will get the woowoos all worked up. Way to go, you Hollywood douchebags!

  172. 163. Julio Vannini Says: “Can’t believe you missed this so evident mistake in the very beggining of the trailer!”

    Well, I “begg” you to use a spell checker to find the mistake in the “beggining” of your post, but to answer your question, you’re probably noting that the moon is a waxing gibbous in one shot and completely full in the next. That’s a mistake of unimaginable subtlety in a story like this.

    Do I win?

    - Jack

  173. Crewvy

    Lemme guess, the US saves the world by detonating nuclear bombs on the moon???????
    Am I right ? Huh, am I?

  174. sophia8

    alfaniner @165: You forgot the second-by-second “countdown to the end of the world OMG!!” meter with big red letters that appears in the corner of every monitor and TV screen; there’s a big version of it on the scientists’ office wall, in case they forget to check their screens.

  175. Nigel Depledge

    SionH said:

    If only there were a professional astronomer of some kind would write a book which details realistic ways in which death might actually come at humanity from the skies. Something which presented the ways that the world will end, and available from all good retailers priced at about $26. But perhaps I’m just dreaming…

    That looks like a really, really good idea.

    You’d better go and find an astronomer to write that book immediately, otherwise someone will steal your idea and beat you to it.
    ;-)

  176. SionH

    By Jingo, you’re right! I’ve also got a great idea for the front cover; a picture of the sun looking all orangey-red and menacing. I think it’ll sell well. Can’t come up with a title though…

  177. Matt S.

    I would like to invoke the concept of “Fractal Wrongness” for this series. It’s not just WRONG. It’s wrong on every conceivable scale of resolution. Zoom in on any part of the series and it’s just as wrong as any other part.

  178. Nigel Depledge

    Defective robot (138) said:

    Wouldn’t a gravity pull strong enough to pull a bullet train from its tracks rip off the Earth’s atmosphere first?

    What? No, air doesn’t weigh anything – after all, how come it stays up in the atmosphere in the first place instead of being smeared all over the surface of the planet…?
    ;-)

    NB – I was trying to enter into the spirit of things, but I think it just came out sounding insane.

  179. Nigel Depledge

    Flying sardines (149) said:

    Our Moon (Luna? Selene?) is gradually from receeding due to a tidal effect and may eventually split from the Earth’s control assuming it survives that long ..

    Nuh-uh.

    When the Earth and moon become tidally locked (i.e. once the moon has taken enough of Earth’s angular momentum so that the Earth rotates at the same rate as that at which the moon revolves about the Earth-moon barycentre) the moon will stop receding, as the mechanism of energy transfer only works because the Earth turns relative to the moon.

  180. Nigel Depledge

    Matt S (178) said:

    I would like to invoke the concept of “Fractal Wrongness” for this series. It’s not just WRONG. It’s wrong on every conceivable scale of resolution. Zoom in on any part of the series and it’s just as wrong as any other part.

    Hmmm . . . unless, of course, it falls into the category of “not even wrong”.

  181. Hugo

    Well, they did get something right in the trailer: Earth exists both in the series and in real life.

    That has to count for something right?

  182. Nigel Depledge

    @ Hugo (182):

    Yeah, that’s like getting 10% in an exam just for turning up and writing your name on the paper.

  183. Neil

    This is to science what Braveheart was to history.

  184. Another scathing review in Salon (including a link to this very blog)

    http://www.salon.com/ent/tv/review/2009/06/18/impact/

    19. SafirXP Says:
    since we’re talkin about science fiction, any news on the status of Rendezvous with Rama movie?

    Somewhere between ‘starting over from scratch’ and “dead”. SciFi Wire had some articles a while back that it seems to be dead (like a Marvel Comics character?)

    44. Grant Says:
    I think I’ll pass on watching this… don’t want the bad science to infect me.

    Remember to vaccinate your children against bad science!

    141. Jack Hagerty Says:
    133. John Paradox Says: “The Annual “Plaitlite”* (kind of a play on ‘platelets’”)
    What’s wrong with “Plaitlets”?
    Could rank up there with the Razzies.
    161. Stone Age Scientist Says:
    The Plaitlite Awards?? No, no. How about…
    The Annual Shattered Plait Awards

    Whatever, it DOES sound like a good idea to have a regular annual award, like, as mentioned, the Razzies.

    169. Bicky Says:
    Heroes: never visit the bathroom which is cool and quite handy in space

    Non Sci-Fi (except on SciFi Wire?): how does Jack Bauer (24) go an entire day without (be right back.. ah, better)peeing?

    J/P=?

  185. Brown dwarf chunks? Uh, what? A brown dwarf is a mega-planet, an object just barely too small to be a star but much more massive than Jupiter. “A chunk of brown dwarf” makes as much sense as saying a chunk of Saturn’s atmosphere.

    Tsk, tsk! Don’t you now that Brown Dwarf chunks make great weapons for blasting spaceships into evil parallel universes?

  186. Clinton

    The Stupid it burns.

    Oh wow, I can’t even discuss this intelligently there’s just nothing to say.

  187. Kevin

    May I suggest going to Sci-Fi Wire’s site, and reading what the star of this “show” has to say…

    http://scifiwire.com/2009/06/with-impact-and-storm-why.php

    According to him…

    “We seem to think we’re pretty safe from meteors since they hardly hit the Earth, or asteroids or comets. But in fact we’re not,” said actor David James Elliott in an exclusive interview yesterday with SCI FI Wire.

    “I found in doing my research that it’s totally possible. I was surprised. … They discovered recently that the Earth has been hit a lot more than we thought originally, like, 10 years ago,” said Elliott.

    Yeah, Erf is right.

  188. Kevin

    Oh yeah, and especially for Phil…

    A friend of mine saw this already, and told me that after seeing this, Armageddon will look like a science film documentary made by actual scientists.

  189. david

    I always wondered when the government would let us folk know that a brown dwarf is coming. It is plausible that this is their first communication on the subject. Ever wonder what happened to the Trillions that supposedly just disappear from the Pentagon and other government agencies. Maybe they are building undergroud superbunkers. Hugh.

  190. alfaniner

    Thank Universe for the DVR and Fast Forwarding. I saw only about two minutes of special FX in the first hour. The rest of it is talking heads and lots of people on cell phones. I have the feeling I can watch the rest of tonight’s part in about 5 minutes.

  191. Chris Winter

    #138. defective robot wrote: “Wouldn’t a gravity pull strong enough to pull a bullet train from its tracks rip off the Earth’s atmosphere first?”

    Yabbut, this is new science, see? So the stronger gravity can pull us toward it because we’re all made of the same electromagnetic force, hence large objects are affected more than small objects, unless they’re already fixed to the ground like trees and houses and swing sets. Got it?

    Oh, and the atmosphere is perfectly safe because air molecules are the smallest objects around.

    (Ducking…)

    Seriously, the farce is strong with this one. It is bad on just about every level.

  192. I started to watch “Impact” on ABC, but after the first five minutes of the show I was convinced that they had Paris Hilton and her little dog as science advisors. The show opened up with folks watching a meteor shower with telescopes! I do take my telescope out when I watch showers but that’s to look at stars or other celestial objects but not meteor showers; a few times by accident I did have a meteor zip past my telescope lens. Then the Moon gets hit by a brown dwarf! Chunks of the dwarf fall to earth in solid form and a scientist tries to pick it up! Brown dwarfs are between one and eighty Jupiter masses whose small mass failed to ignite and burn hydrogen by way of fusion reaction. Also we would detect something so massive coming our way because it would most likely affect the orbits of the planets. I threw up my arms in disgust, turned off the TV, grabbed my binoculars and went outside to gaze at the night sky. While I was doing my sky gazing I listened to Astronomy Cast – Questions: An Unlocked Moon, Energy Into Black Holes, and the Space Station’s Orbit, which made for a wonderful night of observing.

  193. Passin'Thru

    I went here http://www.moviemistakes.com/film8090 to see a full listing of every error in this movie.

    What do I find there? One generic entry. How sad is that? C’mon peoples, if each one of you list just one mistake you found, at one person per minute, the full list of errors should be done by 2012. Doncha think? I think it would be a riot to see it top the records in most mistakes ever in one video event. All other movies in the future would have something to shoot for. Might even make Guinness.

    However, after having read ALL of the above (no small task mind you), I started thinking about a brain-puzzler (for me at least). Let us for the sake of argument suspend all disbelief about the movie for a moment. Consider the same scenario, large chunk of neutron-star or black-dwarf embedded in the moon. A highly elliptical orbit. If you really did want the two locked bodies, dense-matter & moon, to part their merry ways as they were in a dance with earth, would you release the hunk of ultra-dense matter at perigee or apogee? (Or if you learned anything from this movie, “apogee” is now known as “axis peak”. :-) ) Perigee is when the dense mass is at highest velocity, Apogee at slowest velocity. It seemed, from a common-sense type of thinking, that to release it as it was almost stopped and ready to draw the earth nearer again, that would be the *worst* time to make the chunk & moon part company. But if being near the earth when moving fastest, would it cause the most disturbance to the earth when released? Or doesn’t it matter and it wouldn’t go anywhere anyway? Is there an optimal position in the densest body’s elliptical orbit to fling away something from 3 orbiting bodies, to leave the two less massive bodies behind the least disturbed? Is there a limit to the differences in mass ratios of all bodies concerned where it would be feasible to fling away the one with the greater mass by using the orbits of the two lesser masses?

    See? Really bad science got me thunking, probably very badly. :-)

    While I’m at it, how much less do you weigh from centripetal forces during new-moon when you are on the opposite side of the earth from the sun and the moon, when living near the equator some time during the night? I’ve so many silly questions. (The weight conscious are now booking flights to equatorial regions with scales in hand, awaiting the next new-moon.)

  194. Red Jones

    Actually, it was PROBABLY written by someone who knew real science. Then the editor got involved.

    Director: “Astroid heading for earth? Pfft, boring. Hey, let’s make it a chunk of BROWN DWARF that smashed into the moon! Yeah, and it’ll be magnetic and lift cars! Big special effects! It’ll be GREAT!”

    Writer: *sobs*

  195. Jac in SC

    Now for something totally different.

    I’m going to write a screenplay that involves a giant mass of fecal matter splattering the Moon. Part of the Earth’s atmosphere gets caught in it, everything starts smelling like crap, and people are starting to die from disgust. There will be a panel of scientists to back everything up, of course, and when they can’t explain something they’ll just say, “oh, that’s the way it is. Crap smells bad.” Involve the use of gigantic space elevator based vacuum cleaners to disperse the crap smell into space, and some serious looking astronauts in a capsule destined for the moon. Said astronauts will shovel the crap into lunar valleys and cover it up with chunks of Moon rock. One of them will die after sinking into a huge pile of crap. Add in a few beautiful people, a love story plus some sympathetic characters like kids and old people, get someone to play the President and you have a new miniseries! Look for my miniseries to appear on one of the networks this fall. I guarantee it.

  196. Alex

    If the moon is more massive then earth then earth whould be orbiting the moon… It was a dumb show. And Yes a Chunk of a borown dwarf, that whould just be hydrogen gas… So stupid

  197. Ben

    My brain needs a gun to shoot me with.

  198. I agree, the science is very bad. However, it was a really fun show to watch – I thought better than Armageddon and Deep Impact for story-telling. I wonder who the science advisor was??? Obviously, something more scientifically accurate could have been wound into a similar plot…..

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