Entertainment: October 2013 Archives

An Astronaut Fact-checks Gravity, Vulture

"Former U.S. astronaut Scott Parazynski has done seven space walks, including the time he spent seven hours dangling from a robotic arm at the International Space Station, repairing a solar panel array that could have electrocuted him at any time. He had to watch that very solar panel get slashed to bits during Gravity, but aside from that moment, Parazynski loved the film. Vulture had a long, spoiler-filled conversation with the astronaut about space debris, jet packs, tears in space, and Sandra Bullock's underwear."

Keith's note: Clearly Dr. Tyson is unaware of the cross training and multiple skills possessed by NASA astronauts. Astronaut Scott Parazynski did a solar array repair on STS-120. He's an MD. John Grunsfeld did a number of arduous Hubble EVAs involving hardware repairs - no astronomy. He's an astronomer. Sally Ride (a physicist) was a robotic arm expert as was elementary school teacher Barbara Morgan. Rick Linnehan is a veterinarian and did a Hubble repair EVA (with Grunsfled the astronomer). With one exception, every human who has walked on the Moon doing geology was not a geologist. And so on. There are endless examples of people in the astronaut office trained in one area becoming experts in others. That's why they were selected in the first place. But Tyson did not bother to do even superficial research before Tweeting. So much for accuracy.

If you read Tyson's tweets you'll see that he clearly did not like "Gravity" - a movie that is breaking box office records (a movie that actual astronauts seem to really like). This is rather odd for someone (Tyson) who complains about the way that space exploration is portrayed to the public. The public is speaking with their wallets. He's not listening.

Alas, it will be interesting to see what nitpicking is done when the reboot of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" comes out - with Tyson as the host. I am certain he'll have music and sound effects during scenes depicting events that occur in space - i.e. sound in a vacuum - even though its totally inaccurate from a technical perspective.

Keith's note: Around 1:00 am EDT Tyson tweeted: "My Tweets hardly ever convey opinion. Mostly perspectives on the world. But if you must know, I enjoyed #Gravity very much." Contrary to his claim, his tweets regularly contain opinion. Usually, that is why his tweets are interesting - unless he's wrong, that is.

'Gravity': Panel of astro-experts on the science behind the film, Entertainment Weekly

"Would she, a medical doctor, have been needed for a spacewalk in the first place?

Leroy Chiao: It's certainly plausible. It's not at all uncommon for medical doctors of different backgrounds to be trained for a spacewalk, because if you show an aptitude for that, then it doesn't matter what your background is, whether you're an engineer like me or a medical doctor like some of my colleagues. You would be trained to do spacewalks."

Gravity Review: In Space, Everyone Can Hear You Dream

"I saw "Gravity" yesterday - in all its glory - in 3-D on a monster screen. I did so in the middle of the day so as to get the perfect seat. As it happens, any seat in the theater would have been perfect - with or without 3-D - this movie is that good. In watching the film I immediately felt myself pulled into the world that this film created. Only two other films have ever managed to do that to me: "Avatar" and "2001: A Space Odyssey". When I first saw "2001" during its initial run, I was lucky enough to see it in Cinerama - the IMAX of the day. I was already interested in space, but that experience left me changed forever. I can imagine how "Gravity" could have a similar effect on young people today."

Gravity Fact Check: What the Season's Big Movie Gets Wrong, Jeff Kluger, Time

"... the physics of moving about in space--thrusts requiring counterthrusts, spins requiring counterspins, the hideous reality that if you do go spiraling off into the void your rotation never, never stops--are all simulated beautifully, scarily and accurately."

NASA expert explains what the Gravity trailer gets wrong, Michael A. Interbartolo III, Blastr

"I am all for an entertaining movie, but when I go into a Michael Bay Armageddon movie I know to turn the brain off. This one tries to pass itself off as something more than that, but to me, it is the same flash and sizzle with a pretty lax understanding of orbital mechanics and spaceflight operations."

Keith's note: Michael Interbartolo actually does this space stuff for a living.



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