4400 mistakes

Watched the pilot episode of 4400 today (yeah, so we're a couple of years behind. No worries.)

While I really liked the show, the physicist in me screamed at the crappy physics. If a thing is approaching Earth 3000 km/s, and it takes about a half an hour to impact, it's about 5.4 million kilometers away. Now, a Titan II missile may have the capability to reach space (and even achieve escape velocity, 11.2 km/s), but a it most certainly does not travel 5.4 million klicks in 30 seconds. That would make it go at about half the speed of light. They could've rigged a VW Beetle to drive down the freeway at Mach 3, and it would've been more believable.

Of course, all nuclear weapon carrying Titan II:s were dismantled in 1984, 20 years before the show timeline, but...

It's just that if a show is scifi, the writers could at least try to stay true to some reality. Remember the math problems at school? The "If Jill starts from New York on the 10:02 train, and Jack starts from Cleveland on the 9:30 train, at what point do they meet?" This is just the same:

"If a comet is hurtling towards Earth at 3000 km/s, and is 28 minutes away; and we launch 15 missiles towards it with the top speed of 12 km/s, how far away from Earth will the nuclear explosions be, and would it do any good to you to put a paperbag over your head?"

(Having said that, yes, I liked the pilot episode, but I sincerely do hope the writers stick to the human element of the story, and steer away from any scientific explanations of anything. Calculating such basic things as speeds can be so difficult.)

Update: I said the VW Beetle part as a joke, but it turns out someone already fitted a jet engine on a Beetle. Via Slashdot.


I saw the first season and surprisingly I quite liked it. I've been thinking about getting the second, too.

--kolibri, 05-May-2006

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