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

    October 10, 2013
    Josh Wolford

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


Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf