Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Fun: Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics

The weather is gorgeous, my office smells like gardenias (courtesy of another professor), and all in all, it is a day to enjoy life, possibly through some harmless mocking. Enter Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics. This site--and as of December 2007, a book--examine the plausibility of action seen in movies. The authors, self-proclaimed technonerds, have developed a simple rating system:

  • GP = Good physics in general

  • PGP = Pretty good physics (just enough flaws to be fun)

  • PGP-13 = Children under 13 might be tricked into thinking the physics were pretty good; parental guidance is suggested

  • RP = Retch

  • XP = Obviously physics from an unknown universe

  • NR = Unrated. When a movie is obviously a parody, fantasy, cartoon or is clearly based on a comic book it can't be rated but may still have some interesting physics worth discussing.

Newer movies are reviewed individually in addition to treatises on generally bad movies physics, such as explosions, laser beams, flashing bullets, etc.

Not without educational merit, the site also offers information on movie physics in the classroom and recommendations for people interested in studying basic physics on their own (i.e., adults who never took physics or at least don't remember actually taking physics, and now wish they did).

Get together with your physics study group this weekend, choose a good physics movie to watch, and discuss those concepts that are sure to show up on your upcoming final exams.

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