Science Fiction Space Art and Story Fallacies
Science fiction authors and artists of pulp magazines, comics, and pocket books have often been prophetic in depicting technology of the future. However, more often, have their depictions/predictions been scientifically flawed. Below are two examples. The first is from the 1865 novel by Jules Verne FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON. The tale has a crew of three men being launched from a 900 foot cannon.
America’s early concern for astronauts was the acceleration forces the body must endure to achieve the speed to reach the Moon. This speed is known as “escape velocity”, the velocity needed to break free enough from Earth’s gravity to orbit the Moon. By gradually accelerating a Moon rocket, these forces rarely exceeded 10 g’s. Based on this, a spaceman’s weight would increase by ten times during the ascent to an Earth/Moon trajectory.
However, for Verne’s canon launch system, the total acceleration from zero to seven miles a second would occur over the 900 foot path within the canon. The laws of physics compute the g-force thousands of times greater than the Earth weight of those fictional 19th century space travelers. The crushing force would immediately result in a mire of flesh and blood at the base of the shell-like space capsule.
NASA exposed astronauts to the stress of launch g-forces using centrifuges. Click here for a video demonstrating the uncomfortable experience of centrifuge training. Next click here to enjoy a Hollywood clip from the movie Rocketman for a centrifuge training mishap.
The Above Drawing is Altogether Scientifically Flawed
Below are a pair of comic book panels depicting the use of an Earth orbiting space station as a “service-station” for NASA’s space shuttle. Knowing that space is a vacuum, i.e., devoid of air, and that the station is in zero-G, i.e., without the effects of gravity, what is flawed about the drawings? Write a one page explanation explaining your answer(s).
What’s Wrong Here?
For Extra Credit, could the shuttle perform the indicated maneuver? (Hint: Every action requires an equal and opposite reaction.)