You can hate Hollywood blockbusters for a lot of reasons; too many explosions, schmaltzy endings and Matthew McConaughy. But for one physicist these celluloid irritants pale in significance when compared to that most heinous of crimes – a lack of scientific basis.
Now, under guidelines being put forward by Sidney Perkowitz, physics professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, scriptwriters should be banned from contravening the laws of science with such ease.
“The hope is that it [the guidelines] will get better science into film while still making them interesting.”
Perkowitz, who can often be found in the front row of the Holloway Road Odeon shouting at the cinema screen, mentions the film version of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons as one such perpetrator. In the 2009 film Tom Hanks’ protagonist is tasked with looking after an antimatter bomb suspended in a miniature glass vial by a magnetic field, all powered by a small battery.
“The amount of antimatter they had was more than we will make in a million years of running a high energy particle collider. You can’t contain it with an iPod battery,” claimed Perkowitz, clearly more of a fan of Ken Loach’s gritty social realism than such fantastical nonsense.
Surprisingly enough, these views are being backed by major Hollywood players such as Raiders of the Lost Ark screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and Dustin Hoffman, star of the hyper-real 1995 film Outbreak.
But perhaps Perkowitz is being hasty. Just because a plot line is not an accepted theory now does not mean that it will not be proven in the near future. One case in point is Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny De Vito’s 1994 classic Junior, once considered to be pseudo-scientific and now indeed regarded as fact by many reputable newspapers.
Luckily Perkowitz has this covered: “I am not offended if they make one big scientific blunder in any given film. You can have things move faster than the speed of light if you want. But after that I would like things developed in a more coherent way.”