In the 1996 Independence Day movie when we see Jeff Goldblum's and Will Smith's charcters flying into space in order to transmit a virus, there doesn't seem to be anything floating around as you would expect in space. For example, in this video we can see Jeff's character putting the cigar down and Will's character bobbing up and down getting comfortable on the chair when they make their escape:

Has this ever been addressed either in-universe (maybe the alien ship has some sort of gravity-generating technology) or out-universe (they didn't want to spend extra money for special effects on the tiniest of details)?

  • 7
    This movie has more plot holes than swiss cheese. Do you remeber undestructable palm trees? Compuiter virus built for unknown system?
    – Yasskier
    Apr 10, 2017 at 22:47
  • 3
    Another example of bad script writing. :-)
    – RichS
    Apr 10, 2017 at 22:53
  • 1
    @RichS, one of the reasons why i'm avoiding to see Resurgence ;-)
    – user35594
    Apr 10, 2017 at 22:56
  • 2
    I always assumed the alien ship had artificial gravity. This is always my assumption when space films appear to have normal gravity.
    – Tim
    Apr 10, 2017 at 23:02
  • 2
    @MrLister That wouldn't result in objects settling like they do in terrestrial environments. ;-P Apr 11, 2017 at 23:28

3 Answers 3


After their ship is reactivated, we can see it floating unsupported in the underground hangar. It clearly has some anti-gravity technology. We also see it putting on crushing acceleration without harming the humans inside.

Both point to gravity manipulation technology (or symptomatically equivalent force fields) which are presumably employed to provide some level of internal gravity for the crews comfort.

  • The first sentence should have been impossible in reality. No way would they be able to float that quickly.... unless there was some anti-gravity technology involved...
    – Mr Pie
    Feb 27, 2018 at 15:03

It's not gravity per se but they're still under acceleration so everything is pinned back by the force the engines are exerting on the vehicle, nothing floats away. The only scene when they're not under acceleration, either coming or going, is when they're locked into the docking clamp on the huge ship that clearly has some form of internal gravity field given the large infantry division seen not floating away inside it.


How do you think the Moon orbits the Earth and the Earth orbits the sun? Of course there is gravity in space. Gravity is space, but just distorted.

In this scene, nothing would be floating around because it would be inside Earth's gravitational field, and thus slowly be pulled towards Earth (unless it was closer to the Moon). Because Jeff, Will, and the aliens are flying inside Earth's gravitational field, they, and other objects in the ship that they are flying, are not floating around as you would expect, and given the fact that Jeff is flying towards the Earth at high acceleration, then the reality is, he and Will would be able to sit pretty comfortably (by that, I mean not float off their seats).

enter image description here

The circled area is the earth's gravitational field. The tugs demonstrate the force of the Earth's gra-vity and the Moon's gravity, and how they pull objects towards them. (On Earth, this would demon-strate how and why we fall to the ground after jumping in the air.) The tides are irrelevant to the to-pic, so don't worry about that. The point of this picture is to visualise what I am saying, and so in other words, the alien mothership is inside this circled area, which is distorted by Earth's mass. By distorted, I mean that objects can't float around when inside this area, and this is how gravity works (in a nutshell).

This also answers your underlying question, because since Jeff and Will are accelerating towards Earth (faster than the speed of the Earth's gravitational pull, in fact) then they won't float towards the Earth either as much as you would expect them to just float around in any direction (inside the ship that they are flying, at least).

You might have seen astronauts float around in documentaries, but that is because they are quite far away from Earth. It is unlikely that they will be away from Earth's gravitational field (because they would probably have to orbit around the Earth, like when fixing a satellite or going to the Interna-tional Space Station -- ISS for short), however it is likely that they will instead be located at the edge, where gravity is weak. Near the green circumference of the Earth's gravitational field in the picture above, this area is where you experience microgravity. The entire scene you showed was clearly close to Earth, so gravity was not weak enough for Jeff and Will to float.

One of the main details that the producers missed was the fact that there is no sound in space, so you would not be able to hear the alien mothership moving, or the explosion at 0:52. This is because molecules are so disperse in space that the development of sound is impossible. On earth, sound travels to your ears by vibrating air molecules via a longitudinal wave. Through this process, the molecules must compress and then pad out for the vibration of sound to travel through them and reach your ear, which constructs the form of such a wave.

If the molecules are distributed across very large areas, like in space, then they cannot compress, and thus sound would be impossible because there is not enough molecules to compress in order to allow for sound vibrations to pass through them and into your ear.

I apologise if this is too physics related and not quite independence day related.

  • 2
    i guess that explains why these guys spectrum.ieee.org/image/MjU2NDY3Mw.jpeg aren't floating around either.
    – ths
    Feb 27, 2018 at 16:38
  • @ths hahahah :)
    – Mr Pie
    Feb 27, 2018 at 21:13
  • "given the fact that Jeff is flying towards the Earth at high acceleration, then the reality is, he and Will would be able to sit pretty comfortably" -- only if they are seated such that the direction of acceleration is effectively upwards, which given the streamlined design of the relatively small ship they're in seems to be unlikely to be the case.
    – Jules
    Feb 28, 2018 at 23:36
  • @Jules yeah, you might be right, actually. Like standing on a train without holding anything, and then when the train advances. you fall back. But aren't Will and Jeff holding onto a steering wheel or something? We know that Will is (as he screams), but Jeff isn't. So what happens to Jeff, then? Well, he should lean back on his chair from the acceleration, which is what we see him doing from 0:58. So the producers have that part covered.
    – Mr Pie
    Mar 1, 2018 at 5:16

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