Neil deGrasse Tyson fact-checks new movie ‘Gravity’

By Arturo Garcia
Monday, October 7, 2013 23:09 EDT
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Neil deGrasse Tyson on On the Verge screencap
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For the record, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was among those who enjoyed the highly-acclaimed new movie Gravity, but he still took to Twitter to question many of the film’s plot points.

The Huffington Post reported on Monday that Tyson spent some time on Sunday speculating on what he called the “mysteries of Gravity,” like wondering how director Alfonso Cuaron decided to place the Hubble telescope, the International Space Station, and a Chinese space station in space so that they would be within each others’ sight lines, or how Sandra Bullock’s hair, “in otherwise convincing [zero gravity] scenes, did not float freely on her head.” More pointedly, he pondered to his readers, “Why we enjoy a SciFi film set in make-believe space more than we enjoy actual people set in real space.”

The Post reported that Cuaron has admitted to taking some creative liberties for the sake of stretching “the possibilities of certain things,” but did respond to one of Tyson’s critiques: that George Clooney’s character drifts away from Bullock’s at the time of the accident that kick-starts the story.

“In zero-G a single tug brings them together,” Tyson wrote.

“What happens is she’s grabbing the tethers and he comes with his momentum,” Cuaron responded. “His momentum pulls her. They’re moving together. There’s a wide shot that shows they keep moving and you can see the background keeps on moving. What happens is, if he lets go, his force stops and the force of the tether takes over.”

Meanwhile, astronaut Buzz Aldrin had kinder words for the film in a column for the Hollywood Reporter.

“We’re in a very precarious position of losing all the advancements we’ve made in space that we did 40 years ago, 50 years ago,” Aldrin wrote. “From my perspective, this movie couldn’t have come at a better time to really stimulate the public. I was very, very impressed with it.”

Watch a video report on Tyson’s criticism, posted on Monday, below.

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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