Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson Defies ‘Gravity’

Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson Defies 'Gravity'

Shocker: Science may not be 100 percent right

A Nobel Prize may be in astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson's future, because he has done what scientists never before believed possible:

He found some mistakes in a movie.

Also read: Can ‘Gravity’ Splashdown on Stage at the Oscars?

The head of the Hayden Planetarium took to Twitter on Sunday to educate “Gravity” viewers about a few flaws in the movie, wonder why we don't celebrate real astronauts more, and generally break the magical spell cast by director Alfonso Cuaron.

He first took issue with the film's title: “The film #Gravity should be renamed “Zero Gravity,” he tweeted. (But no, it shouldn't be, because it's also, like, totally about the gravity of the situation. Emotional gravity, man.) He suggested the alternative title “Angular Momentum,” which would not have looked as cool on a marquee.

Also read: Sandra Bullock-George Clooney's ‘Gravity’ Soars to Record $55M Box-Office Blast-Off

Then he started hitting the movie where it hurts: Going after its science. His tweets, and our rebuttals:

“Mysteries of #Gravity: Why Bullock, a medical Doctor, is servicing the Hubble Space Telescope.”

Okay, fair.

“Mysteries of #Gravity: How Hubble (350mi up) ISS (230mi up) & a Chinese Space Station are all in sight lines of one another.”

Because… it's a movie?

“Mysteries of #Gravity: When Clooney releases Bullock's tether, he drifts away. In zero-G a single tug brings them together.”

Because, ah… okay. But how great was Sandra Bullock‘s hair in the movie?

Actually, Tyson had issues with that, too.

“Mysteries of #Gravity: Why Bullock's hair, in otherwise convincing zero-G scenes, did not float freely on her head.”

The ultimate point, however, was that we are not sitting anywhere near Neil deGrasse Tyson at the movies. Wait, no. There's also another point:

“Mysteries of #Gravity: Why we enjoy a SciFi film set in make-believe space more than we enjoy actual people set in real space,” he wrote.

All that said, DeGrasse liked “Gravity.”

“My Tweets hardly ever convey opinion,” he said in conclusion. “Mostly perspectives on the world. But if you must know, I enjoyed #Gravity very much.”

  • Gerrit Verstoep

    There's an opinionated @$$hole born every minute. (I know, I'm one.)

  • Itsonlynatural

    To his defense, he also tweeted, “My Tweets hardly ever convey opinion. Mostly perspectives on the world. But if you must know, I enjoyed #Gravity very much.”
    And I think it's only natural for an astrophysicist to observe the science in a movie. Actors analyze the acting on the screen, costume designers analyze the wardrobe, etc.

    • Bill Kistler

      “My Tweets hardly ever convey opinion. Mostly perspectives on the world.” Specifically, Neil DeGrasse Tyson's perspectives on the world. In other words, his opinions.

      • Roy Batty

        No, in other words, basic facts.

        • Bill Kistler

          Your vocabulary could use some work, Roy. Perspective is by definition subjective, dependent on viewpoint. Facts are by definition objective, independent of viewpoint. One cannot give another's viewpoint on the world, only one's own. Therefore, Neil's statement is self-contradictory. To paraphrase, “My tweets hardly ever convey opinion. Mostly my opinions.”

          • bardthekid

            your syncatabasis could use work. opinions ≠ perspectives. I'd explain it you, but you sound close minded.

        • Out in the Street Films

          You can't determine scientific facts of what happens in a movie. There's no way to make measurements. At best this is all conjecture, and there is no room in science for conjecture, except when you're watching a movie and anything you have to say is effectively meaningless in the real world.

          Hence it is absurd to go to an astrophysicist for a movie review. Would you go to a film critic for an analysis of space travel? However, it's all wonderful marketing.

          Tyson relies on clues in the dialog, which may also be inaccurate. What if those stated facts were off? What if there were other forces at work? One satellite shot up another. All kinds of chaos could ensue, moving things into different orbits, different directions and so on. How can a person sitting in a movie theater determine with any accuracy exactly what happens in the fictional story somewhere hundreds or thousands of miles away off-screen? How could any astrophysicist even determine these things is a real situation without extensive investigation and empirical data, which would be impossible to ever have.

  • Bufford Simpson

    What a Jackass! Has this clown ever heard of suspension of disbelief? It is a MOVIE not a documentary on space.

    • Blurbird

      This “clown” is an astrophysicist. What are you? And he said he in fact liked the movie. Or did you not actually READ the article?

      • Bufford Simpson

        I am your father! LEL :)

      • Out in the Street Films

        An astrophysicist can be a clown.

  • David

    “Tyson wrote that the film Gravity should be renamed Zero Gravity”.

    This is incorrect. Masses in orbit experience microgravity, not zero gravity,
    microgravity due to the pull of the Earth that causes and maintains the
    orbit. If it were true zero gravity, the astronauts would float away.

    • Out in the Street Films

      It could be argued as “relative” zero gravity as a form of zero gravity. The gravitational pull of the earth keeps them moving in orbit and slowly descending. But relative to each other, and to the debris, and the other ships, and especially to our cameras’ points of view, everything is in zero gravity.

  • bob

    Tyson wrote, “Mysteries of #Gravity: Why we enjoy a SciFi film set in make-believe space more than we enjoy actual people set in real space,” he wrote.

    Someone should inform Mr. Tyson that NASA is no longer sending people in space.
    You would have thought an astrophysicist would have got that memo.

    • Bluebird

      Perhaps America's abandoned shuttle program is what he was referring to…? Duh….

      btw, I follow him on Twitter, and he tweets with a light touch. His tweets are never written with any vitriol or hatefulness. First and foremost, he seems to try to make science relatable to the masses.

  • JR

    Ha, DeGrassi forgot to mention, among the many “inaccuracies” he points out, that the bodies of the dead people were made of plastic, the space ships were toy miniatures, and the actors were suspended with wires, the movie was actually filmed in a studio located at ground level because technical difficulties made it impossible to film in the air, and… well, what else did DeGrassi missed?

    Just kidding, DeGrassi should stick to “talk” about someone's else research in “so called” scientific shows . As a movie critic, he fails miserably!

  • Out in the Street Films

    Why we enjoy a SciFi film set in make-believe space more than we enjoy actual people set in real space. Because real space is an enormously expensive total bore. At least Gravity makes a profit. But the real question is why was NASA defunded, the shuttle shut down, and NASA now under review to be shut down as well?

  • Al

    They spent millions of dollars on this movie and still made these mistakes. As someone extremely interested in space some of these mistakes took me out of the movie. There is no reason for any of these mistakes being in the movie other than laziness on the producer's part not to consult with physicists!

  • yer mum