Why Every Movie Space Battle Is Wrong! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)
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Why Every Movie Space Battle Is Wrong! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)

– Imagine a sci-fi space battle. It’s pretty easy to picture the ships screaming through empty space, shooting lasers at each other. Now, consider a scientifically
accurate space battle. Not so easy, not just because there’s never been an actual battle in space but because no TV show or movie has really taken the time to get it right. And I’m not faulting pop culture here. I know that sometimes science has to take a backseat to the story. I’m just here to say that a real space battle would look a bit different. Half a century of the most
loved space based pop culture has ingrained in our subconscious what space battles look like, quick moves, laser blasts,
cool looking ships, instant communication, and so on. But an accurately portrayed space battle would have none of this. So, what would it have? Let’s start with the ships themselves. If you draw it poorly,
Disney can’t sue, I think. Now, unless you are a spaceship that enters an atmosphere regularly, there is no reason for you to have wings. Wings provide lift when
they encounter air, and so, if you spend most
of your time in space as it looks like most
spaceships in pop culture do, then in reality a spaceship
would look more like a box with guns. – [Fox] All-range mode. – No, Fox, I just said it
doesn’t matter in space. This is why Slippy died. Speaking of talking to
annoying crew members, depending on the size and the
location of the space battle, communication would be complicated. Let’s say that a space battle
breaks out around Jupiter, and pilots from Earth are
trying to get strategy from Earth command about
how to deal with the incoming alien armada. If we wanted to give our
pilots there a strategy, there would be at least a 33 minute delay, or 1961 seconds because
our signals can only travel at the speed of light, and Jupiter is 600
million kilometers away. A real space battle would
have to take this time delay into account and
instantaneous communication like you see in movies and TV shows would be impossible. – This is where the fun begins. This is where the fun begins. – Speaking of talking to
people who make sounds, a real space battle would be silent. I know you’ve all heard in space
no one can hear you scream, but this applies to explosions too. In space, there is no air
to carry pressure waves, which is what sound is. So, even the Death Star blowing
up would sound like this. And that’s it. Unless some debris rattled your ship, a space battle would sound like nothing. For a real space battle, even the interior of the
spaceships would have to change. Beep, boop. Beep, boop. I’m not doing that just for fun. This is how a starfighter’s
controls would really look. If you’re in a space battle, you’re going to be accelerating, and your weight depends on your mass and how much you are accelerating. So, if you are pulling high g
maneuvers in a space battle, your weight will literally change. Now, imagine having a throttle
like they do in Star Trek and operating it when
your hand and your fingers become three or four or five or 10 times as heavy. Nah, you can’t do that precisely. That’s why a real starfighter’s controls would allow for movement just
of the fingertips to work. Beep, boop. Just the fingertips, bop, boop. And while you’re beeping and booping, your crew around you won’t
be sitting in the starfighter like you may assume. Most spaceships that you’ve seen have their thrusters at
the back like this, right? Well, the only way to give
yourself gravity on a ship aside from spinning is to use this thrust and accelerate in the opposite direction that you want to feel your weight acting. – This is where the fun begins. (Kyle groans) – So, if a spaceship like this accelerated in this
direction most of the time, the floors and the people on those floors would have to be oriented
perpendicular to the acceleration to feel their weight and operate normally as if they were under gravity and not be oriented
parallel to the acceleration like you’ve always seen. And then there’s the battle itself. A real space battle wouldn’t
look like an aerial dog fight. It look more like asteroids. In space, because there’s no air for either pressure waves or screams, bombs wouldn’t be nearly as effective, but projectiles would. Because there’s no air
resistance in space, if you apply any amount
of force to some mass, that projectile will continue
off in a straight line at some constant velocity forever until it hits something. Why do they let him keep doing this? No. Guns and rail guns and
not torpedoes and bombs would be a real starfighter’s armaments, but the science doesn’t stop there. Because everything with mass
and velocity has momentum and momentum is conserved, if you fire mass away from
you in the form of weaponry, it can speed you up or slow you down. So, in a real space battle, you wouldn’t always see spaceships only firing directly forwards in the direction that they
are trying to accelerate in because that would rob them of velocity due to the conservation of momentum. More likely you would see ships firing not along this acceleration vector because if they lose velocity, that means they have to use precious fuel. But the biggest thing you would notice about a real space battle
is how the ships moved. In space, there’s no air to slow you down, so if you accelerated in one direction, you would continue on at
some constant velocity in a straight line forever. Unless you applied some
deceleration to your craft, you would whiz past your target or smash into a space station. You would have to spend just as much time slowing down as speeding up. This is why unless their designs changed, a sci-fi ship like the X-wing would be doing a lot of that, which we can all agree looks ridiculous. So, if every space battle
you’ve seen is wrong, what would be right? Well, you’d see box shaped ships firing projectiles silently in directions that wouldn’t
rob them of velocity according to directions
they got on a time delay from some command in a
way that they could input onto touch based screens. If you see any of that in a
movie or video game or TV show and you’re a nerd like me, you know that this is where the fun begins. Because Science. Thank you so much for watching. Make sure to follow me
on Twitter at @Sci_Phile, where you can suggest
ideas for future episodes, and on Facebook, where I have posted a very special edition
of this episode today on Nerdist’s Facebook page. If you’re a fan of hard sci-fi, I think you’re gonna like it. Go check it out. And on Instagram under the same name, where I’m now posting mini episodes. Bye. When you’re on Earth, if you’re in a dog fight in an airplane, it makes sense that you’d
be facing each other like this in the air because there’s a common
reference point of where down is. But if you’re in space for a space battle, there’s no down. Technically, every
direction could be down. So, why is every spaceship when they meet in a battle like this? Like in Star Trek, they
always meet like this. In reality, if they’re supplying
their own gravity somehow, they should be able to meet like this, and it wouldn’t matter. But they don’t. Maybe because it makes it look weird when you try to gesture it.

100 thoughts on “Why Every Movie Space Battle Is Wrong! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)

  1. Someone CAN hear you scream in space if you do it in a sciencey way. New mini-episode over on my Insta (https://www.instagram.com/sci_Phile/). Thanks for watching! — KH

  2. Another method of simulating gravity would be to use centrifugal force, such as in a continuously rotating space station.

  3. Well TIE fighters kinda need their wings cus they literally double as solar panels so if they’re lost or out for too long they can still get power. That’s legit lore.

  4. I understand that you simplified things when explaining this, but Keppler would not agree with you about "traveling straight line with a constant velocity forever" 😀

  5. remember in mass effect 1? the first time you go to the citadel there is a commander telling his troops this sort of stuff, and that a single missed shot on an enemy will hit a planet somewhere later.

  6. Have you ever heard about Discworld (by T.Pratchett)? We are not stupid, we only don't care about errors for "dramatic purposes". Hard sci-fi is often too boring.

  7. The catch is to assume these so advanced ships do no have the technology to resolve this problems and make an easier and more intuitive enviroment for the users. But its a really great video and I love it

  8. 40k actually addresses the silence of space battle although I was wondering if you can actually hear the vibrations of recoil, explosions like how Astartes can hear it inside their armor.

    I can also see why Imperials like to ram their ships.

  9. Leia has a boxy ship,and some ships(like Fox's Arwing or an X-Wing) need those wings because they often fly through the atmosphere, whether they are defending a planet, landing or being deployed. Also most communication is done from nearby ships like other fighters. Not to mention some Star Wars scenes show fighter flying "upwards" from underneath a Stardestroyer

  10. Wouldn't the box ship be a bad idea seeing how they have low surface area for heat exchange and would wings be great for losing heat?

  11. it would be somewhat similar to fights between submarines. lots of hiding and using long range weapons like rockets and maybe some point defense weapons for the purpose of destroying enemy missles. mines would probably be unrealistic in space due to… ya know… infinite space in all directions it would be hard to get something to realistically move toward a mine reliably

  12. the reason they use laser weapons is because light has no mass, so then you won't have to account with the recoil of the weapons pushing against the ships

  13. 02:15. Doesn't that mean that orders can be given to fighters/flagship and fighter to fighter in relative short times, as a fleet would be in relatively close proximity of each other, so while there might a pause between orders, it would quicker to receive commands? Also, most sci-fi tend to explain that away by having a FTL type of communication system in place.

  14. Did Kyle forget that the spaceships also fly on the planet where there is gravity and site resistance? If you make a ship that's made to only travel in space it can't go planet side because it wouldn't be designed well for it. Why? Because thinking

  15. Why would you be able to see so well in these battles with no source of light? because most of these battles don’t take place near a sun. Or do the stars produce enough light in order to see?

  16. The "wings" on the tie fighter are not for lift. They are solar panels to provide ion propulsion. Just like a
    satellite. That's what TIE stands for. Twin Ion Engine. The X-Wings use their wings for battle not for flight.
    They only spread apart during battle. No other reason. I suggest you do some more research.

  17. This video makes no sense what so ever. Why space battles in movies are wrong? Ridiculous!

    In my opinion, they are right for its purpose. We are talking about "science fiction!" Fiction, which by definition means fake, not real or made up. So, science fake, science not real, or science made up. Nothing in science fiction has to make sense because it's fake, not real, made up. Let that sink in for a minute. The purpose of science fiction is for entertainment only.

    Now, with all that knowledge you have about "science" can you do videos teaching this generation and every generation after, about "science" so that we as humans can actually set foot on other planets and explore other star systems. This video you just made is a waist of resources. We need to get people excited about science so we can better ourselves as humans.

  18. 1:14
    The "wings" of the Tie Fighters are solar panels, and given their vertical fixed position they wouldn't provide much lift.

  19. I have been told that The Legend of Galactic Heroes gets pretty close to a more realistic depiction of space battles. Long ranged, synchronized bombardments with lasers, missiles and fighter craft meet in the middle but don't really engage the bulk of the enemy fleets, and so on.

  20. There are no Ships in Star Trek that utilize a Throttle to control the speed unless you are talking about that pitiful excuse of a program called Discovery. Battle Star Galactica's viper attack ships used them to accelerate mostly for dramatic effect.

  21. nice channel but this. ugh.. thanks science,, or because science.. is,, weird to put it nicely.. I don't speak then stop occasionally and go. Thanks English or apply my brakes and go, thanks friction or thanks science. When i taught time to my niece or math to my children i didn't go,, Thanks math. etc. You get it,,
    It was all started too mock Religious people who stated "Thanks God or Thank God".
    It's a retort in other words. Like when someone is rude and you still hold the door and go, "well thank you or manners".
    This rude phrase became really popular about the time that atheists start mocking people who had the symbol of a fish on their car with the word Jesus in it with doing one with Darwin.
    Now people like this guy do it and it's just so smarmy and rude but. People don't care because. Well it's popular to mock Christians for one and people are just not caring for another.. I'm not a snowflake and don't need an apology. Im not asking for boycotts. Just.

  22. thanks kyle, now i can think of ways to overcome those things by researching pseudoscience and looking up what weaponry would be most effective in spce
    you're a big help
    btw, i actually think the way a x wing would move in space looks pretty cool

  23. Why would the battle be silent? I am on a ship it fires rail guns at the enemy. The firing of that weapon, the cycling of aummintion, the rotation of the weapon as it tracks the target, all of those would generate sound which would travel through the body of the ship to where I can hear it. Sure, I will not hear the sounds of the enemy ship firing its weapons but I will still hear my ships systems giving alerts when it detects enemy fire.

    Finally it is possible that a ship may be designed to add in additional audio cues when weapons are fired to alert the crew in a quick and easy to comprehend manner. One example being a ships speakers playing a machine gun like sound when point defense guns fire to help let everyone know what is going on quickly and letting the crew know they should check a screen for detailed information.

    Audio cues are good because once you get used to them a person can respond to them reflexively without having to read something which requires looking at a screen of some sort.

  24. The last question on the "where is down?" I believe the it may be possible that the planet on their starcharts would be "down" in orientation and positioning. But even this doesn't fully answer that question, but i believe it would be a good start.

  25. What about the massive amount of air inside the death Star wouldn't that have allowed the explosion to create sound waves?

  26. I've searched for thermal management on space conditions, and so it seems there are several designs, thermal pipes, pump loops, and non-conventional designs such as awesome liquid droplet radiators ( that extend surface area thru spraying liquid coolant from end to end! ).

    A-(::::::::::: : : : : : :)-B
    > heat loss >

    But so it seems that the answer is here already as LED light emission may cool the environment thru usage of electrical energy, thus serving as an electrical heat-light radiator. So why not have a system that redirects surplus energy with conventional convection conduction methods and then radiates it with LED light conversion. Maybe even reinvest the light energy into polarizers to filter coherent photons and reuse them to implement laser firing mechanisms, the problem then becoming that of light coherence instead of thermal management. Nonetheless it would be a sight as a laser firing gun would fire bursts as it radiates incoherent light all around.
    In a second thought I wonder if guns have to be attached to the main hull at all!
    Wouldn't it be possible to eject a laser firing/cooling system and remotely control it to fire, as their temperature could exceed human enduring capacity and be safely isolated from the ship. Space battles would be sorta like a bunch of floating guns exchanging energy and radiating it afterwards as they reenter the ship.


  27. It was postulated that 1g could be simulated with tiny holes in the floors to use negative atmospheres to pull a crew towards the floor. Also, there may be future ways to make delta V faster on slowing down than speeding up. Yet I don't know where in space we could produce friction:) (not a scientist, just an enthusiast)

  28. I think you are absolutely and totally Wright!
    So, you must love „The Expanse“!!!!!

    Well, I am crazy about this show!

    And I am a Space Nerd, too!


  29. If the simulated gravity was set up like you drew, wouldn't you have to accelerate constantly to feel the effects? You'd pass C quickly!

  30. The Star Control games got the motion physics right, if you've ever played those. The battles look very much like what you did for the X-wing, where to change direction you need to spin the ship around and apply the thrusters again. You could also slingshot yourself around planets to gain momentum.

  31. About the comunication point, can't that be because of the Spook Action at a Distance?

  32. I actually think a realistic space battle taking place in the early 2050's could be very successful, and could be portrayed to be an extremely tense scene considering all the factors;
    * Poor communication if any
    * Poor conditions of being crammed in a small, badly air conditioned pod in the worst situation possible
    * All you hear as the viewer is the pilot breathing shakily and rattling of the ship as huge explosions and other ships are taken out in deadly silence
    * Laggy controls and intense G-Forces
    * Frantic controlling due to constant drifting and disorganization
    * Massive disorientation
    * The intensity of the fact that a single well placed shot could and will completely destroy your small can of air
    * The possibly pirate-esque broadside method of space warfair for larger ships due to the issue with firing forward cancelling out your velocity
    I would imagine this theoretical movie to be an impossible mix of Interstellar and World-War One, and to have the same constant feeling of dread as a movie about D-Day would. The movie would rely far heavier on acting rather than fancy effects and loudness alone, but if interstellar is anything to go by, it's entirely possible.

  33. The reimagined Battlestar Galactica got a lot of these things right turning the ship around and flying backwards and shooting back at bad guy. They also used a lot of ballistic weapons

  34. I love this topic, so… just to clear it up, every ship (i.e starfighter, huge ass sized ships) should at the very least be boxy in design with railguns and turrets for weapon compliments? Because I plan to get this concept across on a story I am making.

  35. When Nerdist cant even get lightsaber science or lore right 😛 PSSSST Most space ships have to go onto planets guess what they need wings. They use science fiction (subspace) or (dimensional conduits for speaking, some use lots of receiver transceiver probes to accelerate messages. or did you really think sound messages travel through a freaking vacuum? You then say they get it all wrong…….then literally quote star trek star-ship controls "Captain Picard face-palm" Um NO your really bad at this… you have no weight or mass in space….. you will generate a gravitational force if you rotate or if your ship has gravity, BUT then they have compensation technology for that inertia damper(s)…. NO again if you dont bother with the research you will screw up. Energy DISSIPATES WITH DISTANCE HENCE WHY PLUTO IS FROZEN AND WE ARE NOT. SIGH so if I fire lasers from my ship according to you this will push me back……. points out you keep moving in a direction until you apply a force to decelerate……. Pssst you can turn in space…. thought you mentioned space games? have you never played them? who does your writing?

  36. Regarding sounds… when you are within a cockpit or "the brigde", the sounds can come from AR to support you. I think I have even read that in a handbook of some computer game. 🙂

  37. We’re talking about Space battles with our current Technology, Physics And understanding of the universe. I believe it’s only science-fiction until it’s science fact. So in 1000 years or so I’ll never now, Because will be long dead.

  38. Can't we like invent a spaceship that makes use of multiple universe occupying the same room theory, so that the engine fills itself up with fuel from whatever universe that has perfect space fuel occupying the same room that the spaceship's fueltank is occupying at the moment?

  39. Why a box? Shouldn't they be a sphere, instead? That would make it harder for projectiles to penetrate. Also, it would make pivoting easier as there's less unnecessary mass to deal with. I'd think of DragonBallZ's space pods, but a little bigger to accommodate weaponry and some way to display everything happening around you. Also, explosives would have an affect in space, but only if they hit directly. Homing RPG shells, which send their shockwave mostly forward with molten shrapnel, would be useful for penetrating hulls or damaging weaponry and thrusters.

  40. I'm surprised there wasn't a reference to Babylon 5 in this. The human ships have thrusters all over to control themselves and the only sounds the fighters hear are muted sounds of their weapons.

  41. What if you just put engines on bigger aeilorons? Or however you spell it. And put auxilary engines infront to slow down?

  42. Watch the Expanse! They get all of this spot on (apart from the sound thing but they even make a point of that too).

  43. I think the game Elite Dangerous has some fairly realistic space combat. You still have a throttle setup, but otherwise.

  44. 1:20 no, the tie fighter,x wing… freuently enter the asmosphere,to land on bases like hoth,bomb,and have battles in the air…

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