The Pseudoscience of: Epic

Hello Internet!

Man, I was this close to missing my deadline, but here is my next post. Today’s subject: Epic, which I have watched two times in as many days. I liked it a lot, although for some reason I felt that MK and Nod could have contributed a bit more, but something that really struck me were the explanations of how such tiny people would move faster, their incredible jumping, and the long falls. So today, or rather tonight, I’m also going to talk about the Pseudoscience in the movie. Warning: I’m assuming you have already seen it, so there will be spoilers, and lots of them.

First, the long falls with no injuries. That makes complete sense. No, really, I’m not being sarcastic here. We know that all objects are pulled by gravity at the same strength regardless of their mass, yet a rock will reach the ground much faster than a feather dropped from the same height and at the same time. This is because the feather is more susceptible to air resistance. What you may not realize is that eventually both the rock and the feather have a maximum speed at which air resistance applies an equal force as that of gravity in free fall, making it impossible to fall faster. This speed is known as terminal velocity. For many bugs and even some mice this speed is slow enough that no matter how high you drop them from they will survive, and possibly be unharmed. It makes sense that if a human were shrunk or was just born small they would have a greatly reduced terminal velocity, not to mention it would take them longer to reach it, but that they could still reach speeds fast enough to kill them, especially if they hit something sharp at the bottom or run into a moving vehicle.

Note that this is not the same thing as lower gravity, air resistance is what has changed. Consequently, this is not why they were able to jump so high and far in the movie. If anything, the greater proportional air resistance would make them jump slower. However, it turns out that although an ant can lift so much compared to its body weight, the muscle cells are no stronger than our own. This is because the ant itself weighs so much less, so the muscles don’t have to work so hard keeping the ant standing, allowing them plenty in reserve for lifting other things. I’m guessing this is what the filmmakers were going for with the super jumping, since the leaf men have the same muscle to mass ratio but have much less total mass, they also need less for basic standing and walking, thus giving them reserves for incredible jumping. Granted, this isn’t a very strong reason, but it is the best I could come up with.

Finally, the speed. I personally find the idea of them being in another dimension of time rather flimsy. I’m not saying that the idea of them living faster isn’t a good one, but I think the mere fact that they were smaller would lead to this. Think about it, say I’m a leaf man and you are trying to step on me. You begin lifting up your foot and the light bouncing off of it changes. Your eye picks up this change and sends it through your optic nerve towards your brain, same as with mine. However, that signal has a lot less distance to travel, so it will reach my brain while the signal from your eyes is still travelling. The messages to my legs telling them to run will also reach them faster. Furthermore, let’s assume that, given that I have a lot less body to keep track of and control, I can process what i see a lot faster. Before you say “but you also have fewer brain cells to do the processing”, remember that as a very general rule larger animals have smaller brain to body ratios, so it stands to reason that if two organisms have the same kind of brain, in our case, a human brain, and the same brain to body ratio, the smaller one will think relatively faster. The end result is that the leaf men can react faster to things, but to them they have normal reflexes and we take too long to make movements. Honestly, the only weakness I can see in this explanation that would suggest the dimension theory is more feasible would be when the coffee cup falls in slow motion in spite of almost everything else falling at normal speeds, which I can’t really explain. If we ignore that though, everything else makes sense.

Well, other than a slug finding Nod ugly enough to mock for being humanoid (flat face), yet finding MK attractive enough to flirt with. That’s just plain weird.

Till next time,

Goodbye Internet!

The Pseudoscience of: Sonic’s Rings

ShinyHello Internet!

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now: continue “The Pseudoscience of” series. Today’s subject, the gold rings of Sonic the Hedgehog.

If you have ever played a Sonic game you should know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, in pretty much all the games you will encounter golden rings floating in midair which you can collect by running into them. As long as Sonic (or whoever you are playing as) has at least one ring you can survive any damage except bottomless pits or being crushed by certain walls or objects. However, you drop all or most of your rings when hit. When you think about it, this doesn’t make that much sense. You could just say they are magic, but I have come up with another explanation.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the rings are hardly ever mentioned in the game stories. Sure, they are used in shops during some games, but other than that the only mention of that kind of ring in the cutscenes is Tails asking where he puts them, but since he doesn’t get an answer and he uses the rings himself we can ignore that. So what if we assume that they don’t necessarily appear to the characters the same way we see them, or even at all?

I’ll start with Sonic himself and then explain the slight differences for other characters. What if the rings Sonic collects are really small changes in air pressure that Sonic can collect using his quills? Under water they would be air bubbles large enough for him to collect but too small for him to breath. If he is hit he instinctively releases this air to form a very brief shield strong enough to even deflect laser beams. This would also explain his ability to use rings in Unleashed and Generations to increase his speed with the boost created by a controlled release of a small part of the air while still leaving some for his reflexive shield.

For other characters, they would get “rings” from different sources depending on their abilities. Knuckles and Shadow would get their rings from Chaos Energy (and I do have a non-magical explanation for that too, but that is for another day), while Blaze get hers from variations in air or water temperature, etc.

Is this a perfect explanation? No, but I like it anyway.

In other news, as of a short while ago I was tied for first in the contest I mentioned in my last post. You still have until midnight tomorrow to enter and a week after that to vote.

Till next time,

Goodbye Internet!

The Pseudoscience of: Morph Balls

Hello Internet!

Today I will be giving a scientific (sounding) explanation for something that really should be impossible: the morph ball of Samus Aran.

For those of you who don’t know, Samus Aran is the galactic bounty hunter from the Metroid series, and as I understand it the developers of the original decided that having her turn into a ball would be easier than making a crawling animation, and thus the morph ball was born.

The exact size of the morph ball isn’t exactly clear, although in Metroid Prime it can fit in areas of about one meter, so that is the diameter in that game. That same game also states that when the space pirates tried to replicate it the test subjects ended up horribly mangled. So how does Samus do it?

Well, in Metroid Prime when you first (re)gain the morph ball ability you see her curled up in a fetal position and then encased by, well, a ball. So she can fit, and as for the games where the ball appears smaller, she has skin more like ours, while the space pirates seem to be either reptiles or bugs, neither of which have skin as flexible. Combined with some of the crazy things I’ve seen circus performers fit into, and size shouldn’t be too major of a factor.

Where does the ball even come from though, and how does she control it? My theory is that her armor has an outer layer which can reshape itself into the ball form when she curls up. The inside of the outer layer is magnetized allowing Samus to be suspended in a more or less upright position no matter how much spinning the ball does, and all steering takes is a minor shift of her body weight.

Finally, the bombs that can be dropped while in morph ball mode, both the normal and the power variety. You have unlimited of the normal bombs, which implies that they are created from the environment, so I believe she essentially destabilizes the molecules of a small amount of air or other matter, which a few seconds later explodes in a very tiny nuclear explosion. The power bombs are limited in number, so they are probably detached from the ball itself.

Well, I hope this sounds vaguely believable. Who knows, maybe in the future someone will actually make something like this.

Till next time,

Goodbye Intenet!