Astronauts & Space Experts Weigh In On The Science Behind 'Gravity'
As online commentators try to find something negative to complain about in the new film, astronaut Michael Massimino says that the depictions of space are accurate, but not everyone agrees
Gravity is still enjoying life as one of the most talked about and successful films of the year, and is currently riding a sky-high wave of warm critical reception all the way to the upcoming awards season and to another week of potential box office domination. But as is internet law when it comes to something being successful, there has to be some people out there who can nitpick the film and find something to complain about. With Gravity, it was the science behind the film that drew snide remarks.
Gravity is performing well on the back of it's overwhelming critical reception
There were murmurings about the accuracy of the film from early on, but it wan't until Neil deGrasse Tyson weighed in on the argument that people really began to get heated in their discussions. The renowned astrophysicist and poster-boy for internet nerds the world over posted a series of tweets on Sunday, 6 October, after seeing the film himself, and had a few problems with it, which probably drew this reaction whilst he was in the cinema. Other than wondering what Sandra Bullock's character (a medical doctor/engineer) was doing in space in the first place, Tyson had some other field notes that he had to discuss online after the viewing. A sample tweet offers this kind of musing: "Mysteries of #Gravity: Nearly all satellites orbit Earth west to east yet all satellite debris portrayed orbited east to west."
Mysteries of #Gravity: Astronaut Clooney informs medical doctor Bullock what happens medically during oxygen deprivation.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 7, 2013
His comments prompted some response by people asking him to stop ruining the film, with names like "Dr Buzzkill" getting thrown around like that kind of thing doesn't hurt people. Still, Tyson admitted that he does like the movie, he just had to get those few niggling issues off of his chest first. Kind of like the time he went on The Daily Show and told Jon Stewart that the globe in the opening sequence is spinning backwards.
Mysteries of #Gravity: Satellite communications were disrupted at 230 mi up, but communications satellites orbit 100x higher.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 6, 2013
Coming to Gravity's scientific rescue was astronaut Michael Massimino, an accomplished expert in his field who has spent more than 30 hours of his life on space walks. Owing to his experience of actually enduring the zero gravity conditions seen in the space, he said that the depiction of Bullock and George Clooney in space was an accurate one.
"It's a really, really, bad day in space," the 51-year-old said in his own tweets, adding, "It shows that space exploration can be dangerous," before going on to promote the film and saying he hopes it inspires future astronauts, engineers and scientists. He continued, "Movies have the power to inspire, and I hope the views of Earth inspire the young people to explore this field."
Tyson wasn't taken by the role handed to Bullock
Massimino isn't alone in hoping that the movie will inspire future space-enthusiast, rather than just picking apart flaws in the film. Amateur astronomer David Parmet, a board member of the nonprofit Westchester Amateur Astronomers, said (via USA Today), "I hope the movie inspires kids, especially girls, to pursue careers in science and engineering. Maybe we'll get a few more astronauts from the kids who saw it."
So the film isn't perfect on all fronts, but as far as a cinematic experience goes, anything that can put you this close to space must be worth seeing. Gravity is out in cinemas across the US now and arrives in the UK next month.
I hope young people are inspired by #Gravity as I was inspired by The Right Stuff, follow up by studying something you are passionate about— Mike Massimino (@Astro_Mike) October 9, 2013