Category Archives: Film

The Andromeda Strain (1971)


This article is part of a series:
Most Believable Sci-Fi Movies

This is one of those “I wish it weren’t here” entries. The fact that 1971’s Andromeda Strain is considered scientifically accurate and even remotely plausible should scare the living hell outta you.

The premise is simple: US government uses a satellite to capture what they believe to be an extraterrestrial virus, said satellite crashes into New Mexico town, everyone in aforementioned town dies.

Why is that relevant to this article, you ask? Because everything we know (and theorize) about bacteria and pandemics and the origins of life indicates that this could really happen. We know that bacteria actually can survive the deadly vacuum of space. We know that space flight can actually alter the structure of bacteria, turning it into a more infectious and deadly pathogen.

We also know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the US government is dumb enough to try and capture an extraterrestrial virus with a satellite. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

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Blade Runner (1982)


This article is part of a series:
Most Believable Sci-Fi Movies

No, this entry isn’t here because of the Replicants, so relax. I don’t think that we’ll be engineering (or hunting) synthetic humans anytime soon. Nor do I believe that we’ll discover a way to genetically engineer and implant false memories in the human brain. Although now that you mention it, that would be preeeetty sweet. Almost as sweet as a Blade Runner sequel. Almost.

Ridley Scott’s 1982 neo-noir sci-fi masterpiece was actually scientifically accurate from an entirely different standpoint. The bleak dystopian setting of the film, might have actually predicted the fate of our world. At least, that’s what the science nerds say. The perpetually-blackened skies seem to hint at an atmosphere suffering from carbon excess, and some of the technology in the film kind exists today. Those futuristic Spinner transport crafts? Yeah, we’ve got that. And they’re about the get a whole lot cooler, too. WEIRD, RIGHT?

Best of all, European tech company Aeromobil has a flying car that will apparently be available to the public very, very soon. Toyota’s been trying to build a hovercraft-type car but….eh. Not as exciting when you’ve got the real thing!

Fun Fact: Philip K. Dick, author of the 1968 novel that inspired Blade Runner, made some eerily accurate predictions; he wrote of nuclear meltdown in the Soviet Union by 1985 (Chernobyl blew up in 1986), and artificial life by 1993 (Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1997).

If you haven’t read it, do it now. It’s called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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Gattaca (1997)


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Most Believable Sci-Fi Movies

While the Neo-Nazi inspired society of Gattaca hasn’t come to pass, some of the science that drives the movie already has. Don’t worry, geneticists aren’t inspecting every human embryo, removing undesirable traits and creating the “master race”. They are, however, able to make genetic modifications to living tissue and enhance traits for strength, intelligence, and cognitive function. It’s already been done in animals, so the only logical next step is human testing, right?

Strangely enough, most of the genetic alterations seen in 1997’s Gattaca are either already possible or expected to be possible in the very near future. Designer babies are a very real thing, and it’s now possible to have our entire genome mapped and sequenced in order to screen for debilitating diseases.

Don’t be surprised when parents start pumping out Super Babies. It’s inevitable.

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Contact (1997)


This article is part of a series:
Most Believable Sci-Fi Movies

Nearly 20 years after its big screen debut, Contact is still regarded as one of the most complete and accurate science fiction films ever made. It makes sense, seeing as the book that inspired it was penned by none other than the beloved Carl Sagan.

Jodie Foster’s attempts to find extraterrestrial life via radio signals and the deconstruction of an alien language using mathematical equations are both rooted in very firm science. SETI is a massive scientific undertaking that uses (surprise, surprise) radio frequencies in its search for ET and his pals. The Arecibo Message set parameters for the (hypothetical) translation and decryption of alien language, as math is essentially considered a universal language.

 

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Deep Impact (1998)


This article is part of a series:
Most Believable Sci-Fi Movies

“[Deep Impact is] almost a lesson,” said NASA astronaut Tom Jones. “To find a movie that was accurate to asteroid physics was a nice surprise.” Hey, if a real-life Space Cowboy says it’s on par, it’s getting put on the list.

It gets the nod here for a few other reasons, too. First, the whole ‘amateur astronomer discovers the doomsday comet’ thing is believable, as non-pros contribute quite a bit to the astronomical community. Next, the government’s plan to divert the comet with a nuclear missle is probably exactly what we would have come up with back in 1998. Or 2016. Whatever. Double next, the catastrophic super-tsunami that occurs after fragments of the comet splash down in the Atlantic is considered highly accurate by one particularly well-known authority on science, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Lastly, Deep Impact accurately predicted our first black President. I see you, Morgan Freeman.

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Minority Report (2002)


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Most Believable Sci-Fi Movies

Japanese scientists and renowned criminologists have recently announced that they are very, very close to perfecting the PreCrime technology – PreCogs and all – seen in Minority Report.

Totally kidding, but you should still click the link.

Steven Spielberg’s 2002 futuristic crime drama displayed some pretty advanced technology – it was, after all, based in the year 2054. Spielberg consulted with a variety of scientists and tech experts over the course of production, creating what many consider to be the most realistic and plausible environments in sci-fi history.

Some of his predicted technologies have already been realized, like gesture-based computer interfaces, and retinal scanners, while others are still in the early stages, like the facial recognition-driven advertising software.

Fun Fact Round 2: Philip K. Dick wrote the book that inspired this movie, as well! The man was a genius!

 

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Her (2013)


This article is part of a series:
Most Believable Sci-Fi Movies

Probably not one you expected to see here, eh? Believe it or not, Spike Jonze’s 2013 RomCom / Sci-Fi mashup is based around (and rooted in) entirely plausible speculative science. A fully self-aware and sentient AI is no new plot device, but Jonze’s vision and story introduces quite a bit of technology that is (surprisingly) only a few years away.

Since the film is based in a not-so-distant future, there’s not a ton of science or fiction to speak of. However, the science that it does rely on has garnered praise from authorities like Ray Kurzweil, renowned computer scientist, inventor, and futurist. (Futurists are scientists that try to systematically create and explore predictions and possibilities about the future. Thanks, Interwebs!)

Kurzweil had this to say about the film:

“[Her] compellingly presents the core idea that a software program (an AI) can – will – be believably human and lovable. This is a breakthrough concept in cinematic futurism in the way that The Matrix presented a realistic vision that virtual reality will ultimately be as real as, well, real reality.”

Putting his mystical futurist powers on full display, Kurzweil suggested that we would see certain tech from the film (like that trash-talking videogame character and the itty-bitty face cameras) as early as 2020. Sadly, he doesn’t think we’ll see AI as advanced as Samantha until 2029.

Guess that means I’ll remain single for another decade or so…

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Interstellar (2014)


This article is part of a series:
Most Believable Sci-Fi Movies

The final act of Interstellar was, for lack of a better way to put it, total shite. There’s just no denying that. Before the whole “strange Limbo Bookcase” thing, however, the film was ripe with jaw-dropping intergalactic visuals and engrossing storylines.  More importantly, Christopher Nolan’s 2014 space blockbuster featured some of the most realistic and accurate depictions of both speculative science and provable physics theories in the history of Hollywood.

Nolan and his crew worked tirelessly with Kip Thorne, a professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology, to portray scientifically-accurate black holes and wormholes. They deserve massive props for their passion and commitment to the sciences and to the film itself. In classic fanboy fashion, they later published two papers detailing the entire process in lots of science-y science words. Hell, even their theories on time travel and relativity are firmly rooted in well-documented research.

Dr. David Jackson, who printed one of the papers in a 2015 edition of The American Journal of Physics, paid Nolan & Co. a huge compliment: “Publishing this paper was a no-brainerThe physics has been very carefully reviewed by experts and found to be accurate. The publication will encourage physics teachers to show the film in their classes to get across ideas about general relativity.”

Touché, Mister Nolan. Touché.

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The Martian (2015)


This article is part of a series:
Most Believable Sci-Fi Movies

To date, no other film has been able to do what The Martian did in 2015. It’s touted as the most scientifically accurate movie ever made, thanks largely in part to the wonderful novel (same title) by Andy Weir. Astronauts, scientists, and fans alike can’t stop raving about just how well Weir’s fictional novel (and the subsequent film) captured the human elements of space travel; every piece of the puzzle, from the astronaut’s team-first attitude to Watney’s survival strategies, were clever and correct.

The inflatable HAB is already in the works. The “poo-tatoes” are sustainable and achievable. Even the Rich Purnell Maneuver had roots in real life science, although many considered it to be a clever Hollywood plot device. Turns out that the whole ‘gravity-assist trajectory’ thing was conceived back in the 1960’s by Michael Minovich and put into effect by NASA for the 1977 launch of The Voyagers, a twin-craft designed to take a tour of our solar system’s furthest reaches.

Ladies and gentleman, MATT DAMON.

166 Documentary Films You Can Watch Right Now (126-166)


This article is part of a series:
List of 166 Documentaries You Can Watch Right Now

126. Ayahuasca: Ancient Plant Medicine

127. Hempster – Plant the Seed

128. Coca Lives

129. Forks Over Knives

130. Dirty Pictures (The God Father of Ecstasy)

131. All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

132. The Money Masters

133. The Secret of Oz

134. Spirit Science 1-15

135. Garbage Warrior

136. Top 10 Eco Films of All Time

137. What Babies Want

138. Ring of Power

139. House of Numbers

140. SiCKO

141. True History of Marijuana

142. Run From The Cure

143. Eye of The Illuminati

144. Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business (2011)

145. Shaman Voyage

146. Libertopia

147. Zeitgeist

148. Stepping Into The Fire

149. Propaganda

150. Secret Ancient Knowledge

151. The Holy Mountain

152. Food Inc.

153. The Silent Revelation of Truth

154. The Obama Deception

155. The Great Culling: Our Water

156. Dreaming Awake At The End of Time

157. The New American Century

158. ZERO: An Investigation into 9/11

159. The House I Live In

160. Black Whole

161. We Are Legion – The Story of the Hacktivists (2012)

162. Sirius – 2013

163. The Shock Doctrine

164. Manifesting the Mind: Footprints of the Shaman

165. Genetic Roulette

166. The Disclosure Project