Hollywood is a land of broken dreams and deranged imaginations. From exaggerating the end of the world every year to the ability to travel at, if not faster, than the speed of light. And while it does make for some interesting entertainment, even if you’re watching the millionth Transformers movie, it does contain a lot of scientific inaccuracies.
Even though this isn’t just limited to movies – look at video games and especially pulp novels – accuracy doesn’t always make for good storytelling. After all, would Armageddon be as enjoyable if we stopped to think about how ludicrous the entire premise is?
Here are a few Hollywood science fiction myths that are… just myths.
Your DNA contains your memories
In recent years, this is been brought to the forefront with the video game series (and its spin-off movie), Assassin’s Creed. According to the creed of that universe (or Ubisoft’s writers), all of your ancestor’s memories are stored within your DNA, going all the way back to the Third Crusade and beyond. Not only that, but you’ll be able to re-live most of their lives on a day-to-day basis and pick up any abilities and skills that they had.
There is some truth to this, but not on the scale that has been shown throughout the series. A group of scientists were able to breed mice that passed down maze navigation to their ancestors, though this could be chalked up to instinct more than anything else. Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to live through your great grandfather’s time in World War II or experience the black plague for yourself.
One of the biggest misdemeanours is that you can lock down your entire house with the push of a button. Is there an intruder on the property? No problem, your windows will have automatic shutters, every gate and door in the house will be barred, and even your walls will be reinforced. Of course, you cannot forget the automatic sentry turrets and radar as well. While this is the dream, it’s not reality.
While it’s entirely possible to secure your house, having it on lockdown isn’t something that exists. The sheer amount of power required and intricate technology to do so, not to mention the house plans that will have to be approved by your local council.
One of the easier ways is to build a panic room that has a video wall controller, phone, and supplies. It’s a tad more realistic, but an airtight chamber isn’t.
DNA out of eggs
When Jurassic Park came out in 1993, who didn’t go digging around in their garden, looking for insects encased in amber? If you haven’t seen the movie yet – and really, who hasn’t – Jurassic Park’s universe establishes that DNA can be extracted from mosquito which were trapped in amber millions of years ago.
From that, scientists are able to recreate long extinct dinosaurs by filling in a few strands of frog DNA. Yes, in the world of Jurassic Park, everyone can have their own velociraptor to cuddle.
Well, that’s not really the case. As much as that happening would be the scientific achievement of the century, it’s not possible. While the substance can keep fossils intact, the DNA extracted from it will be that of the insect itself and not those it fed on. After all, living tissue and matter do decay, regardless of how well it’s preserved.
Also, mosquitos do feed on different animals at a time, so the chances of ever actually finding Raptor and T-Rex DNA that hasn’t been mixed together is pretty slim at best.
You also cannot splice every bit of DNA to something else. Say, a frog and a bull, or a cheese pizza and pineapple.
The length it takes to terraform planets
Okay, this point hasn’t been seen in quite some time, but it’s still worth bringing up. In the grand scale of things, Earth is an absolute anomaly and one that may never be naturally replicated somewhere else.
In order to sustain life, the planet is the perfect distance from the sun, has a moon (or moons, actually), an atmosphere with breathable gasses and protection from the sun’s radiation.
While it is theorised that Mars may have once had water on it, putting things back to the way they were would take thousands of years. There are several theories around establishing a habitable planet. Firstly, there would need to be water, which would require a transplant from somewhere else.
After that, bacteria would need to be introduced and microbiotic entities that could photosynthesise. This would begin the process of introducing breathable gasses to the planet, but it’s still an uphill climb from there.
There is also the problem of gravity, which is less than Earth. Apart from that, there is still a myriad of factors that we may never be able to overcome. As for terraforming planets in our solar system, well that may be many, many years off.
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