There exists one glorious film that Neil deGrasse Tyson won’t nitpick

There exists one glorious film that Neil deGrasse Tyson won’t nitpick

Neil deGrasse Tyson, America’s Science Sweetheart and host of the relaunched Cosmos, made the news last year when he criticized the scientific accuracy of Gravity. In a series of tweets, the astrophysicist picked apart the Oscar winner’s depiction of a zero-gravity environment, among other things. 

While Dr. Tyson insisted he enjoyed the film, he took some time during an appearance at SXSW Film Festival to critique some other sci-fi films. The good doctor enjoyed The Matrix, but pointed out that the film’s evil robots building a giant contraption—a matrix, if you will—to use humans as batteries is less efficient than just using the energy it took to build and run the contraption. Even film’s best-regarded depiction of space, 2001: A Space Odyssey doesn’t escape Tyson’s red pen, as he points out a moment where an astronaut drinks from a pouch in zero-G, and supposedly absent gravity slides his backwash back down the straw. He didn’t actually express hope that someone got fired for that blunder, but it was strongly implied.

The one film that seems to have escaped Tyson’s nitpicking ire is Deep Impact. Best known as “the other asteroid movie,” as it was released the same year as Michael Bay’s far-more-successful Armageddon, Tyson approves of the film’s more-accurate, less-cinematic depiction of celestial bodies hitting Earth. (Impact’s impact is in fact caused by a comet, not an asteroid, so please don’t tweet about this article.)

[SPOILER ALERT FOR A 16-YEAR-OLD-MOVIE THAT, LET’S FACE IT, IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN AT THIS POINT YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO, BECAUSE IF YOU’RE IN THE MOOD TO SEE A COMET/ASTEROID-BASED MOVIE FROM 1998, THIS ISN’T THE ONE YOU’RE GOING TO PICK]

Not so fast, Tyson. Among the special-effects scenes in Deep Impact is a depiction of low gravity when astronauts land on the comet. We see that, when the heroes blow the comet into two pieces, the chunk that hits Earth lands in the water. Statistically, if something from space hits the Earth, it’s far more likely to land in the ocean than it is to specifically target well-known landmarks, as it does in Bay’s film. Tyson said the film “had really good science going there,” as he apparently didn’t notice that when the comet hits the ocean, creating a tsunami that devastates the U.S.’s Eastern Seaboard (and presumably the west coasts of Europe and Africa, although who cares about those places, right?), when the 50-foot-high tidal wave gets to New York, it floods Long Island, hangs a right, and then sweeps across Manhattan south-to-north, destroying first the statue of Liberty, then the still-standing World Trade Center, then sweeping through Washington Square Park and continuing uptown. Apparently, Tyson only catches errors that happen in space. [via BuzzFeed]

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