Category Archives: Physics in Movies

Conclusion & Results Section – Group 12

Attached is our PowerPoint  presentation on ‘MythBusting Physics in Movies’.

Our group chose to debunk some particularly over-the-top examples of inaccurate physics in action movies. We hope you enjoy!

Here is our presentation:


*file extension should be changed to .key.


* saved as a .ppt:


Preston Miller

Kamran Jehle

Ashlei Hardenburg

(Additional Preliminary Data) Mythbusting Physics, rough data. Group 12

Kamran Jehle

Ashlei Hardenburg

Preston Miller

Lasers/Technology Group Project Data

From Films:

Goldfinger (1964)

The SPI Laser (cutting) torture device used by Goldfinger while interrogating James Bond at the end of the film. The visible (red) diagonal laser inches closer and closer to our hero tied up on a table. Bond’s only question to the evil genuis is, “Do you expect me to talk?”… To which the laser wielding villain replies, “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!” The scene is both timeless, and doesn’t stray very far from reality (especially considering it is a James Bond film).

Mission Impossible (1996)

The security laser-tripwire maze the Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) must carefully avoid while breaking into the CIA headquarter building from a duct in the roof. This scene is brilliantly suspenseful, and the laser technology used (tripwire, detection lasers) is not at all overly fictional, quite the opposite in fact. Even in 1996, when the film came out, lasers were being used for security purposes in museums, Government buildings, banks, and so on. The visibility of the laser maze is a slight scientific inaccuracy we should excuse in the interest of dramatic storytelling.

Daybreakers (2009)

Laser-sights (visible) are mounted on guns used throughout the movie to hunt vampires, especially in the darker scenes. This technology certainly exists; one example most people are familiar with are the laser guns used in laser-tag businesses. Because the playing court is kept dark, the laser sights mounted on the laser beam/infrared(IR) toy guns produce futuristic-ally visible “laser bullets”, complete with tracing tails.

Data: Some Mythbusting of Bad Physics

In our research for our project film on Bad Physics in film, we discovered multiple clips that break some pretty simple physics rules. Here are a few of the clips we found and the data that says the physics is wrong!

The above clip is from George Lucas’ Star Wars. What’s wrong with it? Well, first off, there are laser beams shooting from those spaceships, and that is not realistic. Even if deathly laser beams were real, they would not be visible because they would travel at the speed of light. These lasers would have to have pulsed waves because they would more energy to destroy a target. Because they are pulsed they are less monochromatic, making them colorless as opposed the reds and greens seen in the clip. (Data from our wonderful LTT class!)  Another thing that is wronf with the clip is the explosions. Those can’t happen in space because there is no oxygen available to continue the explosion. You also would not be able to hear the explosion (or the laser beams for that matter) because there is no sound in space. This is because there is no gas in space to transmit the sound waves.

There are a lot of things wrong with this clip, but we’ll start with the man stopping the van 30 seconds into the clip. Not possible. Here are some calculations!

CALCULATION: p = mv; (2,700kg*27m/s) = 72,900 N*s (for typical ~6000lb van going 60 mph) ; (70kg * 4.4 m/s) = 308 N*s ( for typical 154 lb human with a running head start @ 10 mph to stop truck).  The human would gain a lot of momentum in the opposite direction and the van would lose a small amount of momentum. Momentum is conserved. Human is crushed.

Of course sometimes, Physics in movies can be correct. The following clip is a ‘how they did it’ scene for the Guiness record-breaking car flip in Casino Royale.

The funny thing is, the car flip is definitely possible if used with the right machinery. At first, the stuntmen could not get the car to flip the way they wanted it to because of what they were using. Then they used some new things, as seen in the clip, and they car flipped a lot more than they thought it would. But if you were to watch the scene straight from the film, you would think it was naturally possible for a car to flip that many times just by swerving your car off the road. But you can not. You would need the proper equipment to do so.

There is more information, calculation, and resources to come later, but we don’t want to give it all away now!

Project plan

Project Plan

Below are our proposed plans for this project!


Preston Miller – Media gatherer
Ashlei Hardenburg – Film editor
Kamran Jehle – Film design
Once weekly Wednesdays 2pm-3pm @ Library, more meetings if necessary.
Video editing software, internet
Technology used:
Internet, computer programs

BAD Physics in Movies

Michael "King of Explosions" Bay

Action movies have never been known for adhering to the theories of modern physics. Instead, they often deviate into a world where gravity exists to a much lesser extent and super human feats are commonplace. Our group has decided to find the most ridiculous (read: humorous) examples of over the top Physics- someone has to stop these kids from jumping off their roofs with capes.


This is the Student Project Group for Ashlei Hardenburg, Kamran Jehle, and David Miller. This is the section of the LTT website where you should place all of your posts that relate to your group project. Once you have read the “How To Post” page and have decided upon a physics project for your group, you should follow along with the assignments listed in the Course Syllabus to know what should be posted here, and when. Remember that any comments on others’ work should not appear in this category, but should be made as comments underneath their respective posts. As soon as you finalize your project plans, keep up with the assignment due dates on Moodle, and have fun posting. Good luck!

Getting Started…

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