In the movie Prometheus, we hear an exchange of dialogue which proceeds roughly as follows:
Janek: You know, if you wanna get laid, you really don't have to pretend to be interested in the pyramid scan. I mean, you could just say, "Hey, I'm trying to get laid." Heh.
Meredith Vickers: I could. I could say that, right? But then it wouldn't make sense why I would fly myself half a billion miles from every man on Earth if I wanted to get laid, would it?
As Neil de Grasse Tyson has pointed out, this is absurd, because it puts LV-223 well within the confines of our own solar system.
The minimum distance between earth and Jupiter is about 366 million miles. The maximum distance between them is roughly 602 million miles. The average distance between the two is around 490 million miles.
The film tells us that the planet (which is actually a moon of the gas giant Calpamos) LV-223, also known as "Varsa", is actually 35 light years away from the earth, which works out to roughly 206 trillion miles. This means that the real distance is 412,000 times greater than Vickers' estimate. When the earth is closest to Jupiter, it is only 32 light minutes away - the number of light years mentioned is greater than the actual minimum number of light minutes to Jupiter.
The screenwriter, Damon Lindelof, has commented on this issue, but refused to explain the contradiction:
Charlize [Theron] has a line in the movie where she says, “I wouldn’t be half a billion miles away from every man on earth if I wanted to get laid.” And Neil deGrasse Tyson [the well-known astrophysicist] came out said “This would put her somewhere in the neighborhood of Jupiter, when they are much, much further out.” I chose not to say anything because the line was intentional. It had been dinged before we even shot it. But we stuck by it for reasons I don’t feel like discussing.
We also know that there are other obvious goofs in the dialogue. From the same interview quoted above:
Q: There was also a lot of debate about a line in which David the android says that the crew has been asleep for “2 years, 4 months, 18 days, 36 hours, 15 minutes.” People didn’t understand why he wouldn’t have just said “2 years, 4 months, 19 days, 12 hours, 15 minutes.”
A: The “36 hours” line has been burning a hole in my side because I wasn’t there on the day they shot it. I don’t know if it was an ad-lib by Michael or an idea by Ridley, that wasn’t the line that we wrote. So when people contact me and say “Explain this. Is it a glitch in David?” I have to say “I can’t take responsibility for this.” So, I do think in terms of fair play with the audience, Twitter is a medium for me to say “I can’t come out now and bullshit you.” God forbid somebody pulls the script one day and sees that line is not even in the script. So I have to be honest.
How do we make sense of these conflicting accounts of where the planet is? How could the pilot of an interplanetary mission be so wrong about the distance her spacecraft has traveled?