Science in Jurassic World

I finally got a chance to watch Jurassic World, and although it was entertaining, I was a little disappointed. I had seen the original Jurassic Park movies when I was little, and was fascinated enough to consider being a paleontologist for a time period. I didn’t know much about dinosaurs -and still don’t actually- but watching the Jurassic Park movies made me admire them and  the scientists who studied what is left of them. And this is one of the problems with Jurassic World. There is no science. None of the main characters are scientist and the main scientist is just a flat antagonist. As for the dinosaurs, they seem more like fantasy monsters rather than real animals. The velociraptors in the original movie were the most cunning and dangerous hunters of the nature. The chase scenes would and still does give me the chills. Now, in the new movie, they are reduced to pets. I don’t think anyone who grew up with Jurassic Park movies would find this idea credible. Sure, it is a movie and suspension of disbelief is a movie watcher’s best friend, but this one doesn’t create enough verisimilitude to facilitate that.

The video above is the scene from Jurassic Park where we are first told about the raptors. Compare it with the raptors in Jurassic World and you’ll see the problem.

The second issue with Jurassic World has nothing to do with science, yet in terms of believability it’s even worse. Our female protagonist Claire Dearing spends the entire movie in high-heels. Considering she works as a executive manager to at this park, it is perfectly OK for her to be dressed in this attire. Until she starts running from the dinosaurs in the woods in the same heels. Deciding on a character’s outfit doesn’t require scientific counselors, it is just common sense. Jurassic Park had Dr. Ellie Sattler, who, as a paleobotanist, made for a much more suitable protagonist. You can read more about the contrasting styles on Clothes on Films¹ .

Claire Dearing vs. Ellie Sattler

These two are the problems that bothered me. Of course, as it is expected from any blockbuster, there are many scientific inaccuracies that bother the scientists and other knowledgable people on these areas. Here are a few I thought that were the most interesting.

The Feather Debate

No one knows what the dinosaurs exactly look like, but still we have a somewhat rough idea. Their depiction of the carnivores in Jurassic World is not exactly accurate, which is actually a little understandable. You want them to look especially dangerous. However, there is one aspect that was completely ignored. We know dinosaurs are the ancestors of the birds, and there is more to that. According to a recent discovery, almost all dinosaurs had feathers covering their bodies.

Velocity Issue

In the Jurassic Park movie, we see a T-Rex chasing a Jeep. In Jurassic World, we see Claire Dearing (in her essential heels) outrunning a T-Rex. Which one is correct? Surprisingly, Jurassic World got this one right. According a study, a T-Rex’s max speed is between 10 and 25 miles an hour, which is roughly between 15 and 40 km/h. It means if you are fast, you can actually outrun a T-Rex.

For more scientific issues in Jurassic World, you can check this article on Vocative.

¹Clothes on Film is a very interesting site which feature detailed and also fun analysis of costumes in movies, with lots of interviews and reviews. It’s definitely worth checking.


How to Save Lois Lane

In my previous post I talked about how it is nearly impossible for Spider-Man to save a falling person by shooting a web. The necessary force to immediately stop fast-moving things are too great for human bones to handle. So if that’s the case, how can superheroes constantly save falling people while still being scientifically accurate. Well, one good example of the is from Superman, where Superman saves first Louis Lane and then a falling helicopter. I haven’t seen the movie, but was aware of the scene due to this discussion in The Big Bang Theory.

For those who are too lazy to watch it is basically the same argument. As soon as Superman catches Louis, she should be sliced into three parts because of the force Superman’s arms insert. But this time, Leonard proposes a solution. If Superman matches Louis’ speed and decelerates, then he can hold her without damaging. Of course, Sheldon dismisses this and says there isn’t enough space and time.

Yesterday, after writing the post, I was reminded of this scene. So I decided to watch it and realized that Leonard was, in fact, right. If you look closely you can see that when Superman catches Lois, they are still going downwards. This means that Superman indeed matches her speed and the decelerates to cause no harm. Now, that’s how you save falling people.

What Ever Happened to Gwen Stacy

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen The Amazing Spider-Man 2, or aren’t familiar with the comics, read at your own risk.

Up until The Amazing Spider-Man franchise, Spidey’s girlfriend in the movies and the cartoons was Mary Jane, and Gwen Stacy was never mentioned. If you’ve ever wondered why, you got your answer at the end of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Gwen died during a battle between Spider-Man and Green Hoblin. Although Spider-Man claims Goblin “killed the woman [he] loved,” it is actually Spidey himself who caused Gwen’s death. Here is a physical explanation:

In physics, impulse is the change in momentum and expressed as follows:

F • t = m • Δv

We can use it to estimate the force Gwen experiences when she is suddenly stopped either by hitting the ground or by Spider-Man’s web. Since Emma Stone is 52 kg, we’ll take it as Gwen’s mass. Let’s say the time the force is applied for 0.1 seconds. Now all we need is the change in her velocity. Gwen falls from the George Washington Bridge, which has a height of 184. For the sake of simplicity, we will assume that g (gravitational constant) is 10m/s^2. Using 

Vf^2=Vi^2 + 2ad

the final velocity of Gwen is found to be 60m/s. It is also the change in her velocity when Spider-Man stops her with his web. Putting this all in the initial equation, the force Spidey’s web apply on Gwen is nearly 30,000N. For comparison our bones can withstand up to 4000N. So in Gwen’s instance the only way Spidey could save Gwen, would have been shooting a large web and using it as a life net in order to increase the time the force is applied.

Here is the scene from the movie. It’s a little ambiguous whether she hits the ground or not, but there is a clear snap sound that would imply that.