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Thread: Bad Astronomy ALert: Movie "Sunshine"

  1. #61
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    The foil was to prevent people from instantly freezing because they were in shadow. At least one character did indeed instantly freeze, and I think he shattered on the side of the ship some moments later. Coz exposure to vacuum is exactly the same as being submerged in liquid helium, right?

  2. #62
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    Ok, that's just stupid.
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  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    This comes up time and again and it makes no sense to me. It seems to suggest that if the writers do their homework then the entertainment will somehow evaporate and the film will turn into a boring lesson.

    To my mind, it is a lot easier to engage with the fantasy aspects of a film if the reality bits are portrayed well.
    I certainly agree with this sentiment. If only a panel of scientists could review each scifi script before it ever made it to production!

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weltraum View Post
    I certainly agree with this sentiment. If only a panel of scientists could review each scifi script before it ever made it to production!
    The bigger issue is if they'll listen to them. Ben Bova long ago wrote about his experience as science adviser to the long forgotten series Starlost. He said they would come to him, ask him questions, and when he explained the issues, they would thank him enthusiastically, then would go off to do what they had planned to do in the first place.

    Really, I think one student from a local college could make a huge difference in a lot of these movies. The problem is that people who can come up with this nonsense in the first place aren't going to care why it doesn't make sense.

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  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    The foil was to prevent people from instantly freezing because they were in shadow. At least one character did indeed instantly freeze, and I think he shattered on the side of the ship some moments later. Coz exposure to vacuum is exactly the same as being submerged in liquid helium, right?
    Even exposure to liquid helium isn't exposure to liquid helium; it takes time for even something as cold as that to make something as large as that to chill to the point of shattering on impact.

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravens_cry View Post
    Even exposure to liquid helium isn't exposure to liquid helium; it takes time for even something as cold as that to make something as large as that to chill to the point of shattering on impact.
    Good point well expressed.

  7. #67
    Hey everyone. Sorry if I am reviving an old thread. I saw this movie a while ago and was wondering if such a thing is possible. I was reading on various websites and I bumped into this thread. I noticed a lot of people kept saying how tis movie is not scientifically accurate and is Hollywood crap.

    First of all Sunshine is not made by Hollywood.
    "The film was a co-production between the motion picture studios of Moving Picture Company, DNA Films, UK Film Council, and Ingenious Film Partners. Theatrically, it was commercially distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, while the 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment division released the film in the video rental market."

    Second of all. Everyone assumed the sun is dying in the normal sense as in 3 billion years later will become a giant red blob. This is not mentioned in the film. There is no mention that the Sun reached it's final phase of it's life in the movie because the sun is dying from another cause. The reason the sun is dying is unknown.

    I was reading online and it turns out such a thing is indeed possible by a phenomena called the Q-ball infection. Although highly theoretical they suppose that this stable arrangement leftover from the big bang can infect normal matter and cause it to become dark matter. So the sun is effectually turning into dark matter and is dying. To further clarify the idea is that Q-ball is not dark matter but that dark matter is normal matter infected with Q-balls. If you can kill the Q-balls you turn it back into normal matter.

    The idea in the movie was to create a bomb that will target the Q-balls and make them naturally decay in chain reaction.

    I think Sunshine gets a bad rep because it's associated with Hollywood and because nobody knows about theoretical physics and none of that was explained in the film. But in regards to the present state of knowledge and I'd say the movie is pretty accurate. As accurate as a movie can be. Ultimately is still entertainment.

    Oh and some people commented about the freezing in space. Turns out in vacuum things freeze much slower. So I did some research it turns out would take closer to 45 minutes to freeze in space. However you lose consciousness in about 5 - 10 seconds . The damaged done by vacuum is more damaging that the lower temperature of space. In vacuum you would spray blood out of every orifice and even if you survive to the other side you would need intensive medical intervention and transfusions and what not. So going out in space without a space suit more than 5 seconds is death and not instant frost. However the scene is cooler with instant freezing.

  8. #68
    I love this movie, it is my favorite Danny Boyle film I've seen and one of my favorite speculative fiction films along with Primer, Moon, 2001, Handmaiden's Tale, Colossus (The Forbin Project), Soylent Green, 1984, etc. That's not a name check, just a overview of where my tastes lie when it comes to this sort of thing.

    I love science fiction fantasy as well, but know its a different genre with different standards of scientific plausibility.

    The main scientific issues with Sunshine seem to be concerning how such a relatively small bomb could fix a dieing sun, and where the gravity is coming from.

    The Q-Ball infection has been covered, but I consider a relatively small bomb designed to cause chain reaction to decay a troublesome solar infection to be plausible. Besides, the solar problem is simply a MacGuffin, and it is simultaneously the most and least important aspect of the story. Even the physicist on board wasn't sure it would work, its simply the only option humanity has.

    I've yet to see anyone talk about the source of gravity that is BLATANTLY demonstrated in the film. It's the bomb itself. Sure it can't have enough mass to cause the 1g effect in the film, but we are dealing with near future technology and we STILL don't know how gravity really works. The payload (bomb) is more advanced then our current technology, so I imagine that some serious advances in graviton detection/manipulation would have had to been made to make this bomb (both for its mission and the gravity it produces). However, the effect of falling off the cube and then having that "cliff" realign itself as the new "floor" is pretty much a dead giveaway of where the gravity is coming from. This is called "SHOWING" instead of "TELLING", good films do this.

    Now, it does take a bit of back bending to explain why they were weightless OUTSIDE the ship instead of just falling towards the payload, but assuming if they can get the bomb to produce that much gravity, I also assume its plausible they can shield it to contain it inside the ship so the outer structures aren't put under any gravitational stress. That's my own speculation, but the source of the gravity overall is in the film in black and white.

    As a final note, this film is a narrative. Story, character development, themes, ideas, relationships, etc will always force scientific accuracy take a back seat when it conflicts with these elements. Same thing with happens with historical accuracy when it comes to biographies, period pieces, and "true" stories. It's good storytelling, and Sunshine is first and foremost a story. How writers handle this dissidence is a balancing act that few can get right.

    Boyle and Garland did a commendable job in my book.

  9. #69
    I did further read on the space freezing scene plus saw the scene again.

    According to NASA there were a few cases of astronauts being exposed to absolute vacuum. Here is some info from NASA.

    Seems the pressure that the human body is used to is 14psi (air pressure). Vacuum is closer to 1 psi. So that means we have a natural tendency to explode and gush blood from every hole in our bodies. However, NASA pointed out that although our bodies want to explode our skin keeps our bodies together. Just like the aluminium of a pressurized spray can, human skin (although not as hard as steel/aluminium) is strong enough to resist the vacuum of space .

    The human body is amazingly resilient. A human can take up to 50 psi impact damage , withstand absolute vacuum, and about 400psi of environment pressure providing is gradual. 400 psi means close to 1000 feet although it is suspected that we can withstand more. The biggest problem is breathing, oxygen chemistry and loss of consciousness not bone breaking.

    One thing that was noticed is anyone exposed to vacuum loses consciousness in 5-10 seconds although regains it later in normal pressure without any permanent damage. The reason this happens is we lose Oxygen is taken out of blood and in about 10 seconds maximum you run out of Oxygen and brain shuts down. Kinda like your computer when is overheating. Oxygen is for our brains the same way as cooling does to our computers.

    One big problem is severe sunburns in direct sunlight.

    Another problem is if you took a big breath of air before being exposed to space is vacuum will damage your lungs. So don't hold your breath in space.

    One astronaut noticed saliva stars boiling when exposed to vacuum.

    In Sunshine the instruction is to keep eyes shut and exhale slowly. That would protect the eyes and give them enough oxygen to last a bit over 5-10 seconds before passing out. So they could have probably done it. Freezing is the least of your concerns. According to NASA human body loses heat very slowly in vacuum. So it would take close to an hour until you're a block of ice.

    If the movie did not emphasize cold of space then the guy stiffing up and turning all blue could simply be a shadow or some faint blue light being cast while he lost his consciousness. He is not dead yet but now he starts dying. In other words the freezing scene could simply be a dramatic effect for death. I would consider that an ok alternative as in make it poetic (death = cold) rather than scientific (death = slow asphyxiation, saliva burning, loss of consciousness then 45 minutes of freezing). Another way the freezing scene can be interpreted is the movie does not have 1 hour to show the guy slowly dying. That would be scientifically correct but boring and stupid so they chose the dramatic effect. Once the guy has been lost in space it does not matter if he dies in 10 minutes or 60 minutes he's beyond help. He is dead. Show him freezing move on with the story. Audience does not need to know he is still alive but nobody can do anything. Then the movie becomes about saving this one guy who can't be saved. Although the freezing not correct the rest of the going out to space scene is scientifically correct.

    Sunshine is pretty accurate as much as science meets entertainment goes.

  10. #70
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    You mean this?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q-ball

    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki
    In the movie Sunshine, the Sun is undergoing a premature death. The movie's science adviser, CERN scientist Brian Cox, proposed "infection" with a Q-ball as the mechanism for this death, but this is mentioned only in the commentary tracks and not in the movie itself.
    (
    Post #17 noted the "it wasn't made in Hollywood" item.

    Posts #19, #20 and #49 mention Q-balls.
    )
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  11. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by trollworkout View Post
    Second of all. Everyone assumed the sun is dying in the normal sense as in 3 billion years later will become a giant red blob.
    No, everyone didn't assume that. Actually, as I said here:

    http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthre...91#post1428291

    I accepted the sun going dim bit as a basic premise of the movie. There's really no way you can make the "sun going dim quickly" idea work unless it's some effect that removes most or all of the sun (almost) instantly. So this is an issue you just have to accept if you're going to watch the movie.

    I was reading online and it turns out such a thing is indeed possible by a phenomena called the Q-ball infection.
    If Q-balls exist, it couldn't work like they showed. Time is one big factor - you couldn't make the sun go dim or light it back up on any sort of short time scale. But again, I didn't worry about that.

    I think Sunshine gets a bad rep because it's associated with Hollywood and because nobody knows about theoretical physics and none of that was explained in the film. But in regards to the present state of knowledge and I'd say the movie is pretty accurate. As accurate as a movie can be.
    It was incredibly inaccurate. The stuff that happened at the ships was ridiculous, leaving the sun issue aside entirely (never mind that the physics issues there are not fixed by Q-balls). And it certainly could have been more accurate, they just didn't care.

    Ultimately is still entertainment.
    Which failed for me, and not just because of the technical issues. I didn't like the characters at all, and their actions were bizarre.

    Oh and some people commented about the freezing in space. Turns out in vacuum things freeze much slower.
    Right, under conditions they showed, the instafreeze was nonsense (not accurate).


    However you lose consciousness in about 5 - 10 seconds . The damaged done by vacuum is more damaging that the lower temperature of space. In vacuum you would spray blood out of every orifice and even if you survive to the other side you would need intensive medical intervention and transfusions and what not.
    You would lose consciousness quickly, but you're wrong about the blood. The closest you could get to that is IF you tried to hold your breath, you could rupture your lungs. There was a technician exposed to vacuum in a spacesuit test 1966, and he got through it fine. There was also quite a bit of animal research on this. See:

    http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/ca...1969004637.pdf

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  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by trollworkout View Post
    First of all Sunshine is not made by Hollywood.
    I think some of the detractors are using "Hollywood" as an adjective - "Hollywood crap" can mean "the sort of rubbish typified by Hollywood".

    Quote Originally Posted by trollworkout View Post
    Second of all. Everyone assumed the sun is dying in the normal sense
    For "everyone" read "some people, maybe". Like many detractors I got it that something unexpected had happened to the Sun, and scientists were trying something desperate that stood a good chance of failing. I had no problem whatsoever with this aspect of the film.

    Quote Originally Posted by trollworkout View Post
    I think Sunshine gets a bad rep because it's associated with Hollywood and because nobody knows about theoretical physics and none of that was explained in the film.
    Do you? I think Sunshine gets a bad rep because it's a terrible, terrible film.

    Quote Originally Posted by trollworkout View Post
    Oh and some people commented about the freezing in space.
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by trollworkout View Post
    Turns out in vacuum things freeze much slower.
    Well duh.

    Quote Originally Posted by trollworkout View Post
    However the scene is cooler with instant freezing.
    This is where "Hollywood crap" comes in. It's broadly synonymous with "dumbing down". When something happens that obviously wouldn't really happen, but it's considered "cool", you are talking about a film which (deliberately?) excludes those members of the audience who are actually interested in the hazards of outer space.

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by AverageDrafter View Post
    I love science fiction fantasy as well, but know its a different genre with different standards of scientific plausibility.
    Many of us are very clued up about science fiction and its related genres. Several of us write the stuff (although the best of us died recently).

    This is part of the problem. 2001 (for instance) is at least partly about serious speculation and realistic portrayal of near-future space exploration. Back To The Future (for instance) is a playful, fast-moving adventure with a lot of laughs and some suspenseful bits. It is very easy to enjoy both in their different ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by AverageDrafter View Post
    The main scientific issues with Sunshine seem to be concerning how such a relatively small bomb could fix a dieing sun,
    Again, I don't think that's the issue for many people at all. It certainly isn't for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by AverageDrafter View Post
    and where the gravity is coming from.
    That certainly rang the alarm bells. The one that said, "This film is apparently presenting itself as a fairly serious film about space travel in the near future. So why the heck is it doing the brainless 'down is towards the floor' nonsense?"

    Quote Originally Posted by AverageDrafter View Post
    I've yet to see anyone talk about the source of gravity that is BLATANTLY demonstrated in the film. It's the bomb itself. Sure it can't have enough mass to cause the 1g effect in the film, but we are dealing with near future technology and we STILL don't know how gravity really works. The payload (bomb) is more advanced then our current technology, so I imagine that some serious advances in graviton detection/manipulation would have had to been made to make this bomb (both for its mission and the gravity it produces). However, the effect of falling off the cube and then having that "cliff" realign itself as the new "floor" is pretty much a dead giveaway of where the gravity is coming from. This is called "SHOWING" instead of "TELLING", good films do this.

    Now, it does take a bit of back bending to explain why they were weightless OUTSIDE the ship instead of just falling towards the payload, but assuming if they can get the bomb to produce that much gravity, I also assume its plausible they can shield it to contain it inside the ship so the outer structures aren't put under any gravitational stress. That's my own speculation, but the source of the gravity overall is in the film in black and white.
    Sorry, but this is the most ridiculous thing I've read about the film.

    Quote Originally Posted by AverageDrafter View Post
    As a final note, this film is a narrative. Story, character development, themes, ideas, relationships, etc will always force scientific accuracy take a back seat when it conflicts with these elements.
    But that's the problem. The technical problems are trivial compared to those things.

    Quote Originally Posted by AverageDrafter View Post
    Boyle and Garland did a commendable job in my book.
    You are entitled to your opinion.

  14. #74
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    I see there were two other posts approved that now appear before mine, but weren't visible when I was reading. Surprisingly active for this topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    This is where "Hollywood crap" comes in. It's broadly synonymous with "dumbing down". When something happens that obviously wouldn't really happen, but it's considered "cool", you are talking about a film which (deliberately?) excludes those members of the audience who are actually interested in the hazards of outer space.
    I sometimes compare this with sports. Say you go to a movie that's supposed to be about basketball, but instead you see players wearing football helmets throwing baseballs around the court. It just goes on with more stuff like this, but you're supposed to take it seriously. If you complain about it, somebody tells you that it looks better that way, it's just entertainment, and that you're being picky.

    Anyway, science is just part of the problem with this movie. I sort of remember it like this:

    "They're doing WHAT now?"

    "Okay, that person is an idiot."

    "Huh? I have NO idea what's going on now."

    . . . and so on. I reached the point where I was hoping everybody would get killed off because I disliked the characters so much and just wanted the movie over.

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  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    I sometimes compare this with sports. Say you go to a movie that's supposed to be about basketball, but instead you see players wearing football helmets throwing baseballs around the court. It just goes on with more stuff like this, but you're supposed to take it seriously. If you complain about it, somebody tells you that it looks better that way, it's just entertainment, and that you're being picky.
    Yes, that's perfect. Well, it's much better than the analogy I used sometimes, which was about watching a film set in Madrid, the capital of France. Anybody with the least knowledge of geography is going, "What the blue blazes?" (or something much stronger); if the writer can't be trusted to get that right, why should we invest any emotion in the film?

    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    Anyway, science is just part of the problem with this movie. I sort of remember it like this:

    "They're doing WHAT now?"

    "Okay, that person is an idiot."

    "Huh? I have NO idea what's going on now."

    . . . and so on. I reached the point where I was hoping everybody would get killed off because I disliked the characters so much and just wanted the movie over.
    Same here.

    Oh, and don't forget the sudden shift: "I'm bored of making a science fiction film. I think I'll make it about a slasher instead!"

    When people denigrate science fiction, films like Sunshine give them ammunition.

  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    ...and don't forget the sudden shift: "I'm bored of making a science fiction film. I think I'll make it about a slasher instead!"
    I've only watched the movie up until that point...then I turned it off...

    So how does it end?

  17. #77
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    Hollywood or not, we have good Sci/Fi and bad Sci/Fi.....Some adhering to science some not.
    At the opposite end of the scale we have of course 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Contact just to name two
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  18. #78
    This type of picture - like some of the comments say is just entertainment !
    They don't make documentary and educational films at all now !
    It didn't and won't happen !
    It's all just frothy fun - enjoy !

  19. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pennine View Post
    This type of picture - like some of the comments say is just entertainment !
    They don't make documentary and educational films at all now !
    It didn't and won't happen !
    It's all just frothy fun - enjoy !
    I don't think any of us are asking for a documentary. We're looking for a well-made film.

    I get annoyed by the phrase "just entertainment". It takes hard work to entertain - there's nothing "just" about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    I don't think any of us are asking for a documentary. We're looking for a well-made film.
    ...and as an "example", Sunshine just isn't that well made...oh, technically speaking it was fine...FX were great...the "problem" is the story (or to be more precise, the execution of that story) sucked.

  21. #81
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    And leaving that aside, who says they don't make documentaries anymore?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    And leaving that aside, who says they don't make documentaries anymore?
    March Of The Penguins did quite well, as I recall.

  23. #83
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    March of the Penguins is a wonderful film. It would be challenging to name other documentaries that do as well. I saw Oceans with the hope that it would be better, but it wasn't. it was not horrible, just not as good.
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  24. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    And leaving that aside, who says they don't make documentaries anymore?
    You're right; they most certainly do, and astoundingly good ones at that. I can personally recommend Searching for Sugarman and The Cove. Documentaries are alive and well; and that's a good thing.
    Last edited by Staiduk; 2013-Feb-02 at 11:38 PM. Reason: Removed a snide comment on Michael Moore.

  25. #85
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    I really enjoyed Searching For Sugar Man. Flawed but satisfying.
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