Why Every Movie Space Battle Is Wrong! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)

Why Every Movie Space Battle Is Wrong! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)


– Imagine a sci-fi space battle. It’s pretty easy to picture the ships screaming through empty space, shooting lasers at each other. Now, consider a scientifically
accurate space battle. Not so easy, not just because there’s never been an actual battle in space but because no TV show or movie has really taken the time to get it right. And I’m not faulting pop culture here. I know that sometimes science has to take a backseat to the story. I’m just here to say that a real space battle would look a bit different. Half a century of the most
loved space based pop culture has ingrained in our subconscious what space battles look like, quick moves, laser blasts,
cool looking ships, instant communication, and so on. But an accurately portrayed space battle would have none of this. So, what would it have? Let’s start with the ships themselves. If you draw it poorly,
Disney can’t sue, I think. Now, unless you are a spaceship that enters an atmosphere regularly, there is no reason for you to have wings. Wings provide lift when
they encounter air, and so, if you spend most
of your time in space as it looks like most
spaceships in pop culture do, then in reality a spaceship
would look more like a box with guns. – [Fox] All-range mode. – No, Fox, I just said it
doesn’t matter in space. This is why Slippy died. Speaking of talking to
annoying crew members, depending on the size and the
location of the space battle, communication would be complicated. Let’s say that a space battle
breaks out around Jupiter, and pilots from Earth are
trying to get strategy from Earth command about
how to deal with the incoming alien armada. If we wanted to give our
pilots there a strategy, there would be at least a 33 minute delay, or 1961 seconds because
our signals can only travel at the speed of light, and Jupiter is 600
million kilometers away. A real space battle would
have to take this time delay into account and
instantaneous communication like you see in movies and TV shows would be impossible. – This is where the fun begins. This is where the fun begins. – Speaking of talking to
people who make sounds, a real space battle would be silent. I know you’ve all heard in space
no one can hear you scream, but this applies to explosions too. In space, there is no air
to carry pressure waves, which is what sound is. So, even the Death Star blowing
up would sound like this. And that’s it. Unless some debris rattled your ship, a space battle would sound like nothing. For a real space battle, even the interior of the
spaceships would have to change. Beep, boop. Beep, boop. I’m not doing that just for fun. This is how a starfighter’s
controls would really look. If you’re in a space battle, you’re going to be accelerating, and your weight depends on your mass and how much you are accelerating. So, if you are pulling high g
maneuvers in a space battle, your weight will literally change. Now, imagine having a throttle
like they do in Star Trek and operating it when
your hand and your fingers become three or four or five or 10 times as heavy. Nah, you can’t do that precisely. That’s why a real starfighter’s controls would allow for movement just
of the fingertips to work. Beep, boop. Just the fingertips, bop, boop. And while you’re beeping and booping, your crew around you won’t
be sitting in the starfighter like you may assume. Most spaceships that you’ve seen have their thrusters at
the back like this, right? Well, the only way to give
yourself gravity on a ship aside from spinning is to use this thrust and accelerate in the opposite direction that you want to feel your weight acting. – This is where the fun begins. (Kyle groans) – So, if a spaceship like this accelerated in this
direction most of the time, the floors and the people on those floors would have to be oriented
perpendicular to the acceleration to feel their weight and operate normally as if they were under gravity and not be oriented
parallel to the acceleration like you’ve always seen. And then there’s the battle itself. A real space battle wouldn’t
look like an aerial dog fight. It look more like asteroids. In space, because there’s no air for either pressure waves or screams, bombs wouldn’t be nearly as effective, but projectiles would. Because there’s no air
resistance in space, if you apply any amount
of force to some mass, that projectile will continue
off in a straight line at some constant velocity forever until it hits something. Why do they let him keep doing this? No. Guns and rail guns and
not torpedoes and bombs would be a real starfighter’s armaments, but the science doesn’t stop there. Because everything with mass
and velocity has momentum and momentum is conserved, if you fire mass away from
you in the form of weaponry, it can speed you up or slow you down. So, in a real space battle, you wouldn’t always see spaceships only firing directly forwards in the direction that they
are trying to accelerate in because that would rob them of velocity due to the conservation of momentum. More likely you would see ships firing not along this acceleration vector because if they lose velocity, that means they have to use precious fuel. But the biggest thing you would notice about a real space battle
is how the ships moved. In space, there’s no air to slow you down, so if you accelerated in one direction, you would continue on at
some constant velocity in a straight line forever. Unless you applied some
deceleration to your craft, you would whiz past your target or smash into a space station. You would have to spend just as much time slowing down as speeding up. This is why unless their designs changed, a sci-fi ship like the X-wing would be doing a lot of that, which we can all agree looks ridiculous. So, if every space battle
you’ve seen is wrong, what would be right? Well, you’d see box shaped ships firing projectiles silently in directions that wouldn’t
rob them of velocity according to directions
they got on a time delay from some command in a
way that they could input onto touch based screens. If you see any of that in a
movie or video game or TV show and you’re a nerd like me, you know that this is where the fun begins. Because Science. Thank you so much for watching. Make sure to follow me
on Twitter at @Sci_Phile, where you can suggest
ideas for future episodes, and on Facebook, where I have posted a very special edition
of this episode today on Nerdist’s Facebook page. If you’re a fan of hard sci-fi, I think you’re gonna like it. Go check it out. And on Instagram under the same name, where I’m now posting mini episodes. Bye. When you’re on Earth, if you’re in a dog fight in an airplane, it makes sense that you’d
be facing each other like this in the air because there’s a common
reference point of where down is. But if you’re in space for a space battle, there’s no down. Technically, every
direction could be down. So, why is every spaceship when they meet in a battle like this? Like in Star Trek, they
always meet like this. In reality, if they’re supplying
their own gravity somehow, they should be able to meet like this, and it wouldn’t matter. But they don’t. Maybe because it makes it look weird when you try to gesture it.