Neil deGrasse Tyson: ‘Gravity’ Earned the Right to Be Criticized

    October 10, 2013
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

If you haven’t yet seen the movie Gravity, you may encounter spoilers ahead.

A few days after Alfonso Cuarón’s incredible thrill ride Gravity hit theaters, renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson took to Twitter to “fact check” the film – or at least talk about what he called the “Mysteries of Gravity.”

Over the course of a dozen or so tweets, Tyson highlighted some scientific inaccuracies in the film. For instance…


Ok, so here comes the “scientist” to rain on everyone’s parade. Just great, geez. Of course, Tyson is right about all of it (as he usually is), and his tweets spawned a bunch of headlines about how Neil deGrasse Tyson was hatin’ on Gravity.

Not so, says Tyson, in an open letter just posted to Facebook.

“To ‘earn’ the right to be criticized on a scientific level is a high compliment indeed. So when I saw a headline proclaim, based on my dozen or so tweets, ‘Astrophysicist says the film Gravity is Riddled with Errors’, I came to regret not first tweeting the hundred things the movie got right,” says Tyson. “No one was more stunned than I over the media attention given to my flurry of tweets posted this past Sunday.”

So, what did Gravity get right? Here’s his top 10 list:

1) the 90 minute orbital time for objects at that altitude; 2) the re-entry trails of disintegrated satellites, hauntingly reminiscent of the Columbia Shuttle tragedy; 3) Clooney’s calm-under-stress character (I know dozens of astronauts like that); 4) the stunning images from orbit transitioning from day to twilight to nighttime; 5) the Aurorae (northern lights) visible in the distance over the polar regions; 6) the thinness of Earth’s atmosphere relative to Earth’s size; 7) the persistent conservation of angular and linear momentum; 8) the starry sky, though a bit trumped up, captured the range and balance of an actual night sky; 9) the speed of oncoming debris, if in fact it were to collide at orbital velocity; 10) the transition from silence to sound between an unpressurized and a pressurized airlock; … and 100) the brilliantly portrayed tears of Bullock, leaving her eyes, drifting afloat in the capsule.

Those tears. Ah, what a movie.

Keep on critiquing, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Great films aren’t hurt in any way by great science.

Image via YouTube

  • Really?

    Here is a good fact for you:

    We were able to recover 80,000 pieces of the Columbia when it crashed. Columbia was traveling at a speed of 17,500 mph. We recovered black boxes, clothing, body parts, and landing gear. We literally put together the pieces in a huge hanger. Yet, on 9/11 at the PA and Pentagon sites, larger planes that were flying at only 500 mph seemingly vaporized into thin air. No black boxes, no body parts, no landing gear, no clothing. Read the first hand accounts of the PA rescue crews — they all know a plane did not crash there. Don’t even get me started on the bizarre happenings at the Pentagon.

    There is a space fact we can all relate to. Columbia we can put back together. Two planes on 9/11 we can’t.

    • Name

      Yes, I saw a special about that. It was amazing how they pieced together the Columbia. If I am not mistaken, you can go out to YouTube and see it. In fact, I think there is an excerpt called: “Should we ignore new 9/11 evidence”. Something to that affect. You literally see Columbia being reconstructed. It is amazing how they did it. What convinced me that there was not a plane at Shanksville is when I saw the video of the Mayor of Shanksville saying there wasn’t a plane. He was one of the first people on site. The crash site looks nothing like other plane crash sites either. It is strange.

      I have no idea what happened though. Your guess is good as mine. I just know that there was no plane there. Heck, anyone with half a brain can see that when they look at the video.

    • Larry

      I bet you’re really fun at parties.

      I.E. this article is nothing to do with your pet crusade.

    • Bill Scott

      Really? Tell me, where are the passengers from those two flights? Are they all in hiding somewhere, paid to keep a conspiracy silent,forever separated from their families?