Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Famed Astrophysicist, Total Gravity Buzzkill

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Famed Astrophysicist, Total Gravity Buzzkill

If you recently watched Alfonso Cuaron's marvellous outer-space odyssey Gravity, you probably walked out of the theatre with your mind just a little bit blown. Or, if you're renowned astrophysicist and science distributor Neil deGrasse Tyson, you came out and decided to kill everyone's buzz by nitpicking the film.

Heads up, some of these tweets contain spoilers.

Tyson's observations -- mostly framed as cheeky/smarmy "mysteries" -- ran a full gamut, from being prickly but informative:

Mysteries of #Gravity: How Hubble (350mi up) ISS (230mi up) & a Chinese Space Station are all in sight lines of one another. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 6, 2013

Mysteries of #Gravity: When Clooney releases Bullock's tether, he drifts away. In zero-G a single tug brings them together. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 6, 2013

Mysteries of #Gravity: Nearly all satellites orbit Earth west to east yet all satellite debris portrayed orbited east to west -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 6, 2013

...to just sort of annoyingly nitpicky:

Mysteries of #Gravity: Astronaut Clooney informs medical doctor Bullock what happens medically during oxygen deprivation. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 7, 2013

Mysteries of #Gravity: Why Bullock's hair, in otherwise convincing zero-G scenes, did not float freely on her head. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 6, 2013

...to non-annoying and fully interesting:

The film #Gravity should be renamed "Angular Momentum" -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 6, 2013

FYI: Angular Momentum -- The tendency, once set rotating, to keep rotating, unless another force acts to slow or stop it. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 7, 2013

Earth's gravity extends to infinity. To experience "zero-G" simply requires you move through space without rockets firing. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 7, 2013

Earth's gravity extends to infinity. To experience "zero-G" simply requires you move through space without rockets firing. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 7, 2013

Fall towards Earth. Fall towards the Moon. Fall towards Mars. Fall towards anywhere at all, you'll be weightless in zero-G -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 7, 2013

An Orbit is a continual state of free fall, but while moving so fast sideways that the surface curves away at the same rate. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 7, 2013

Cool Experiment: Poke a hole anywhere in a paper cup of water. Drop cup. Water, while weightless in free fall, stops spewing. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 7, 2013

Thought Experiment: Stand on a scale in an elevator. Cut the cable. You, the scale, and the elevator fall -- scale reads zero -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 7, 2013

...to, on a couple of occasions, just flat-out annoying:

Mysteries of #Gravity: Why we enjoy a SciFi film set in make-believe space more than we enjoy actual people set in real space -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 6, 2013

Mysteries of #Gravity: Why anyone is impressed with a zero-G film 45 years after being impressed with "2001:A Space Odyssey" -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 6, 2013

Sheesh, you'd think a scientist would get the concept of a false equivalency!

In the end, Tyson reassured the world that he enjoyed the movie, too:

My Tweets hardly ever convey opinion. Mostly perspectives on the world. But if you must know, I enjoyed #Gravity very much. -- Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 7, 2013

As much as I'd like to bag on Tyson for killing everyone's buzz, for the most part I enjoyed his Twitter fact-checking tirade. I'd imagine watching Gravity as Neil deGrasse Tyson is a bit like watching The Wizard as a hardcore gamer -- you see every little thing they got wrong, and can't help but want to tell people.

I tend to be with The Village Voice's Stephanie Zacharek, who writes, "Incidentally, the first person who tries to tell me Gravity is "unrealistic" or "implausible" is going to get a mock-Vulcan salute and a kick in the pants." But ok, ok. Astrophysicists get a pass.


Comments

    He's not killing people's buzz -- you don't have to read his tweets. Simple!

    I see at least one argument I told my friends and they still argued in the favour of the movie. It wasn't a bad film though some things did not make sense. Especially some character decisions.

      Unfortunately that's modern cinema, here are a few of my gripes that seem to happen more and more:
      completely improbable character actions used to advance plot
      massive, glaring plot holes
      absurd premises
      out of character dialogue that only serves as exposition because the writers are too lazy
      'twist' endings, complete with ubiquitous red herrings

      ...and my least favourite:
      blatant lack of explanation for key elements of the film, for the sole purpose of helping producers get a sequel made so they can make more money off an already paper thin franchise (see: Paranormal activity).

    Really enjoyable film. Amazing to watch.

    Sure the mechanics of everything isn't plausible, but in the film world that is. Everything is in orbit near each other. At least they based a lot on real stuff. It would not have been as good a film if they fully went sci-fi. So these nit picky complaints couldn't be made.

    The problem is, all the different orbits, would mean there's no film. Just open water made in space. Not very interesting.

    "Mysteries of #Gravity: Why we enjoy a SciFi film set in make-believe space more than we enjoy actual people set in real space" This is a point he has made many times before. It isn't really annoying. Pretty sure there is a quote out there of him comparing the cost of sending the rover to Mars to the cost behind making Avatar.

    So many people in De Neil!
    Keep speaking truth-to-entertainment Neil - Pluto is an asteroid and don't let those Pluto-ites reverse hystery.

    Last edited 09/10/13 5:32 pm

    Don't understand why he can't give the same slack to movies that he does to scientific research. Hasn't he ever hear of Scientific Uncertainty? I can't think of a single thing that can be measured by a physical object that is 100% accurate. There are always error margins in scientific research and results. Why does a fucking movie have to be 100% accurate?

    Everyone has been talking this movie up as being utterly terrifying, the Rooster Teeth guys said one trailer for the movie made them sweat with fear.

    Now, I've got a weak constitution for scary stuff. Seriously, I find the zombies in Pirates of the Caribbean are scary. But the trailers for this movie barely raise a hair on my head. They look like 100% CG. I think people just want to find this movie scary Is an astronaught stranded in space really that terrifying? Sure it sucks, but it's hardly heart pounding stuff.

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