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!