Questions tagged [physics]

Questions about the physics of a fictional universe. Questions purely concerning real-world physics are off-topic.

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177
votes
8answers
32k views

Was the Millennium Falcon too slow?

I've always been puzzled by the speeds of space craft in Star Wars. The Millennium Falcon was said to travel at "point 5 beyond the speed of light" - which I guess is 1.5c: HAN: She'll make point ...
68
votes
3answers
57k views

How does Captain America's shield work?

Captain America is able to throw his circular shield and have it return it to him like a boomerang. Is this even possible according to physics (especially considering the ranges at which he uses the ...
52
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9answers
70k views

How did the cookfire get hot enough to melt gold in Game of Thrones? [closed]

In the television series A Game of Thrones, Khal Drogo melts gold in a cookpot over a seemingly ordinary fire, and then pours the melted metal on Viserys' head. How could the cookfire get hot enough ...
48
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12answers
25k views

Why and how can you hear explosions in space in Star Wars?

Considering that sound can't travel through vacuum.
47
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4answers
10k views

Is Sheldon right that Superman would have killed Lois when he caught her? [closed]

Quoted from The Big Bang Theory: Penny: Yeah, I do like the one where Lois Lane falls from the helicopter and Superman swooshes down and catches her, which one was that? Leonard, Sheldon ...
45
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11answers
17k views

Is there a canon explanation for how Proton Torpedoes were able to turn 90 degrees at the end of Star Wars: ANH

Based on this question: Why did Luke need a targeting computer in the first place? Proton Torpedoes launched from Luke's X-Wing were able to change direction 'on a dime' 90 degrees to get into Death ...
45
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4answers
10k views

In Stargate why can you go only in one direction through the gate but radio signals can go both ways?

So why can people and other objects just go in the one direction while radio signals can go both ways? Is that ever explained or is it just fact?
38
votes
5answers
10k views

From the bridge why can you see another ship in space, shouldn't there be no light?

Sorry if this has been asked before but I searched and was unable to locate an answer. Something that has always bothered me is in Star Trek whenever the Enterprise comes upon another ship in deep ...
27
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1answer
8k views

In Star Wars, is there a pretend-science explanation of how lightsabers work (like midi-chlorians for The Force)?

In Star Wars, Luke wielded both a lightsaber and the Force, neither of which was explained in much detail. In The Phantom Menace, it was explained that intelligent microscopic life-forms called midi-...
26
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7answers
12k views

How was Jim able to space walk when the ship was traveling at .5 c?

Until now any space movies that I've seen where they have shown space walk, they show that either the ship isn't moving or the character is on the spaceship because of the magnetic boots. However in ...
26
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3answers
15k views

How does mass conservation work in the MCU Ant-Man movie?

In Ant-Man, it's (briefly) explained that the Pym particle reduces the distance between molecules, allowing a person to shrink while retaining his mass and strength. Much of the movie is consistent ...
23
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6answers
3k views

Is there a canon explanation for why Star Trek ships bank when turning?

This is quite obvious if, like me, you've played the Star Trek MMO where the game designers were inspired by the motion of the ships in the movies. I think it's most noticeable when the Bird of Prey ...
23
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6answers
3k views

When a ship drops out of warp does it retain the speed it was at when it entered warp?

Within the Trek Universe, if a Starship was to enter warp while at full impulse, would it still be at full impulse when it dropped out of warp? In the same vein; Is it even possible to enter warp ...
22
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5answers
4k views

How to get sunburned through the window of a General Products hull?

In the short story Neutron Star by Larry Niven, the main character Beowulf Shaeffer's face is sunburned somehow when his ship - built from a General Products starship hull - passes very fast and very ...
22
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2answers
3k views

What happens to lasers in space battles?

In Star Wars, we see many space battles and there are many missed shots. What happens to the lasers when they fly off into space? Do they eventually just fizzle out, or do they continue on forever? ...
22
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7answers
13k views

Do ships at warp experience time dilation?

From the Gene Roddenberry quote in this answer: 'In answering these questions, I came up with the statement that "this time system adjusts for shifts in relative time which occur due to the vessel'...
21
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2answers
5k views

Why does Captain America's Shield make noise?

If the shield doesn't vibrate, how could it produce sound? This would necessitate something vibrating to move the air. The only thing that I can think of that is plausible, is that vibranium is able ...
21
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2answers
2k views

Do spacecraft in Star Wars produce jet blasts when taking off?

I'm talking about this kind of effect: I don't remember this happening in any movies, but can't easily find scenes online where spacecraft are taking off. In A New ...
20
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1answer
2k views

In Stargate, why can radio waves propagate throught the wormhole, but not light?

Light and Radio waves are essentially the same, just at different power levels. Why can light not penetrate the wormhole?
19
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2answers
1k views

planetery system with two suns in K-PAX

In the movie K-PAX the character talks about his planet where there are two suns and he say that they only rise together once in many years. Wouldn't it be impossible to have one rising and the other ...
18
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5answers
22k views

What is the difference between photon torpedoes and quantum torpedoes?

It seems that quantum torpedeos are the next generation of photon torpedoes but I was wondering what made them better and what makes them 'quantum'.
18
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7answers
87k views

What is the best scientific explanation for how The Flash moves so fast without issue, or is it just “magic?”

The Flash goes from zero to ??? in an eye blink. As he does not have a Saturn 5 rocket on his back, how do you explain the acceleration? How do you explain his ability to stop on a dime and turn ...
18
votes
1answer
331 views

Sci-fi story with the premise that spacetime geometry is Riemannian

I'm trying to find a hard sci-fi story where one of the major premises was that the world has a Riemannian geometry (x^2+y^2+z^2 + t^2) instead of the real world's Minkowski geometry (x^2+y^2+z^2 - t^...
18
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3answers
769 views

Do you keep momentum when you Apparate?

For example, if you were falling, facing upwards, and you Disapparated, would you continue to move backwards really fast once you got there? If so, could you change your momentum by Apparating to a ...
17
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5answers
43k views

What is Iron Man's flight range and max air speed?

In the Iron Man movie Tony flies the Iron Man armour from Miami to Afghanistan, roughly 7800 miles. What is the maximum range of the Iron Man armour? What sort of speed does the armour cruise at? ...
17
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1answer
1k views

Looking for a book with a spacecraft with odd rules of physics

I think: The book is set aboard a spheric spacecraft which has very odd physical rules. It travels at the speed of light but the speed of light is the speed of sound aboard this ship. When people ...
16
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3answers
5k views

Are the equations in Interstellar real?

Are the equations appeared on the blackboard in the Interstellar movie real equations of Kip Thorne while working out equations for computing the image of a black hole? Or they are just random ...
16
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2answers
6k views

Why do diesel cars not work in Revolution?

Revolution is a post-apocalyptic TV series, where the main premise is that some sort of technology was used to disable electricity (as in not just the mains but electricity even in batteries doesn't ...
14
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1answer
1k views

How does Spider-Man manage to hold on to his webs?

When Spider-Man web slings across town, the general procedure is shoot web, hold it, swing, airtime, repeat. For good grip, the end of the web line he's holding should be well below the center of his ...
13
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6answers
4k views

Is it possible for so many technologies to cease working? [closed]

In the show Revolution, the world suffers a global blackout. However, the extent of this catastrophe goes far beyond a collapse of electrical grids. Any device that uses electricity stopped ...
13
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2answers
2k views

In WALL•E, why does everyone get thrown when the Axiom suddenly lists?

In WALL•E when Captain McCrea is fighting for control of the Axiom, he ends up forcing the ship to abruptly list when he's thrown off of Auto. This, of course, has the undesirable side effect of ...
13
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4answers
6k views

In Gravity, are the orbital mechanics of space debris plausible? [closed]

I Gravity, a satellite somewhere is shot down by a missile, and the debris from that hits other satellites causing a chain reaction of rapidly increasing amount of space debris. The protagonists are ...
13
votes
3answers
803 views

Why did the team members come flying through the gate when arriving on Destiny?

It has been well established in the Stargate universe that anything entering the gate will exit on the other side with the same velocity (speed and direction) as it entered. In the opening scene of ...
13
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4answers
5k views

Interstellar — Black hole manipulation?

Some things have confused me about the black hole in Interstellar. Namely: How did Cooper ever leave the black hole once he was inside it? How was Cooper able to suspend in the tesseract? Something ...
11
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4answers
10k views

How did the Avalon (seemingly) get to Arcturus so quickly if they're only traveling at .5 of lightspeed?

Assume spoilers about Passengers from here, but really this has nothing to do with the plot so... There are a number of tiny points to criticize in the film, but what I'm really coming up empty on is ...
11
votes
5answers
491 views

What was the first story where a universal constant had a different value?

In some stories, the value of a universal constant is different than it is reality. For example, in Going Postal: 'Something like that, sir, probably, something like that,' said Groat. 'Three and ...
11
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3answers
6k views

What kind of battery does WALL•E run on?

WALL•E has been working for several hundred years and one of the keys to this is his ability to use parts of broken robots to replace his own broken parts. Now this won't work with the electrical ...
11
votes
6answers
4k views

Does the ending of Tau Zero make sense?

Warning: I'm trying to obfuscate much of this question, and hiding the key elements in spoiler blocks..but some spoilers will probably be inevitable. At the ending of the book Tau Zero the ending ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

How can S-foils (X-foils) help with heating in space?

S-foils were made famous by Star Wars' X-Wing star fighter. But why were they needed in-universe aside from "Lock S-foils in attack position" sounding cool? S-foil Wookiepedia has this to say: ...
10
votes
1answer
807 views

Can Captain America's Shield Produce 0K Temperatures?

If Captain America's shield can absorb/deaden any vibrations, does this mean that it can create 0 Kelvin temperatures? Since heat is movement/vibration of atoms, then his shield would be covered in ...
10
votes
1answer
613 views

Was lightsaber physics planned from the start, or was it retconned later, possibly due to a “Discovery” episode?

Today apparently I'm being inspired by other answers. In Star Wars, is there a pretend-science explanation of how lightsabers work (like midi-chlorians for The Force)? describes that the ...
10
votes
5answers
3k views

How can Quicksilver run with someone without injuring them?

If Quicksilver can go that fast, if he didn't hold the person’s neck while running with them would his sudden burst of speed snap their neck? Or would they just have whiplash like in X-Men: Days Of ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

In the novel The Three-Body Problem, does the Sun's amplification of radio transmissions have a scientific basis?

Per Wikipedia [...] However, she is rescued at the last minute by Yang Weining and Lei Zhicheng, two military physicists working under Red Coast (a Chinese initiative for alien communication ...
10
votes
0answers
199 views

Television episode about scientists discovering the Grand Unification Theory, as each one discovers it they begin to vanish

I'm still trying to find another sci-fi show/series/episode - it has similarities to the one Twilight Zone with the downed WWII aircraft. But in this one, a bunch of scientists stumble onto ideas that ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

How do you 'travel' in a single dimension? [closed]

I do not know if I should ask this on the 'theoretical physics' stack, but I'm afraid I know nothing about Physics so I'll look like a clown there. There are many stories in which people travel ...
9
votes
2answers
691 views

Revelation Space - Why didn't the ship get trashed when Volyova put it into reverse?

In Revelation Space, Volyova puts the Nostalgia For Infinity into reverse at 10 g acceleration. This saves her life because she's falling down an elevator shaft at the time. It also kills Nagorny who ...
9
votes
2answers
4k views

Effect of Special Relativity in the Star Trek Universe [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How is the FTL drive supposed to work in Star Trek? In our known universe, people traveling close to or at the speed of light would experience time roughly 1000x slower than ...
9
votes
1answer
487 views

About Dan Simmons' description of the Doppler effect applied to light

I remember that, reading Hyperion's cantos, I'd been wondering whether there could be some kind of “altered” physical model which would support Dan Simmons' description of the Doppler effect applied ...
9
votes
2answers
359 views

Has X-Men ever offered an in-universe explanation for how the “impossible” arises from a biological explanation?

First, let me say, I know people are going to say "It's just a comic/movie franchise, you have to suspend disbelief". Please bear with me. X-Men is a little different than other franchises. We ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Physics behind the “force push”

When a gifted character uses "push" on something/someone, he/she doesnt get involved in action-reaction force pairs. Here is some force on human body as an action. Where is the reaction? On the ...