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Entertain Me, But Don't Insult Me
Kirt's Cogitations™ #180

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Entertain Me, But Don't Insult Me

Engineers and other technical types (myself included) seem to enjoy pointing out inane and totally unrealistic special effects and dialogs in sci-fi movies. Examples are legion, from uploading a virus to an alien computer in Independence Day (surely aliens have Norton AV), to Day After Tomorrow when the water freezes in NY, but no expansion effects are visible. That's nothing compared to the early films, though. In the first science fiction film produced, "A Trip to the Moon," in 1902, six travelers (not even yet termed astronauts) were fired from a large cannon while inside a protective capsule. The unsuspecting explorers are quickly captured by lunar inhabitants. In a daring scene, an escape is made where our heroes manage to make it back to the capsule and nudge it off the edge of the moon so it can fall back safely to Earth, and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, even if a cannon could be built that was capable of launching a projectile into space, no human could survive the acceleration. Then there is that fact that while walking on the moon it appeared to have gravity like the Earth's, but when it came time to push the capsule off the edge, suddenly the gravity was gone. The entire 14-minute epic is one bit of laughable absurdity after another. As the general public gets more sophisticated, however, the effects must be more believable. Who amongst us that was around for the original Star Trek episodes thought them outrageous? Now we watch re-runs and think differently. Sci-fi has thus transformed in a century from being inspiring and thought-provoking, to being fodder for a good belly laugh.

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