A fictional movie is very entertaining; however, movies can also make people pick up misconceptions. Here there are some of the more common movie plots that twist the truth.

A cigarette end can’t set petrol on fire.

Watched on: Zoolander, The Usual Suspects, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

In dozens of films and TV programmes major explosions are started, either accidentally or deliberately, by a cigarette dropped into petrol.

Researchers at America’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, did some tests at their Maryland laboratories. This government department conducted 2,000 attempts to start a fire from exposed petrol using a cigarette. They dropped cigarettes of different brands into the petrol to see if this made any difference. But the petrol did not ignite.

Actually, in the film industry they are pretty well aware of it. They don’t care.

Despite what you see in action movies, dropping a lighted cigarette on to a trail of gasoline won’t ignite it, assuming normal oxygen levels and no unusual circumstances. That’s because the gasoline has limited contact with the ash.

At the end of the experimental session, the gasoline could successfully be lighted using a single match attached to a long stick.

bourneA bang on the head won’t cure amnesia

Watched on: 50 first dates, The Bourne Trilogy, Muppets Take Manhattan, Laurel & Hardy, Tarzan the Tiger.

The plot device of a second bang to the head relieving the amnesia caused by a first is an idea that many people believe to be real. In a study conducted in the USA, almost 42% of the people agreed with the statement: “Sometimes a second blow to the head can help a person remember things that were forgotten”.

Whichever type of amnesia a person experiences, a second bang on the head is not going to repair the initial damage. Unfortunately, it’s not like banging a television to get it working again.

A second blow to the head could leave the brain more vulnerable and be fatal. This is known as second impact syndrome. There have been a few isolated cases of young people returning to sport after recovering from a concussion, getting hit on the head for a second time, and suddenly dying.

Tracing a call doesn’t take 60 seconds

Watched on: Thelma & Louise, Catch Me If You Can, 24.

The good guy receives a call from the kidnapper, the conversation should last at least 60 seconds for the cops to trace the call, but the kidnapper hangs a few seconds before the one-minute mark.

The truth is, tracing a call nowadays is immediate. As soon as the call is produced, it can be traced to where it is being originated.

If someone is calling from a landline, even if it comes up on your phone as unavailable, the phone company will know exactly where it’s coming from.

In the beginning, the myth was actually true. In the 1970s when telephone calls required several operators to manually connect circuits. Those first 60 seconds might only get the police to the first or second switching station. But manual switching died by the mid 1980s, when electronic switching systems enabled carriers to instantaneously match a caller with a location.

TV SCIENCE copyZoom in. Now enhance. Why is it still blurry?

Watched on: Blade Runner, CSI, Mc Giver, Numbers, Star Trek.

If you zoom in really close on a grainy security camera picture until the pixels almost fill the screen, you cannot then press some magical “enhance image” button and make it all perfectly clear. A pixel is a pixel.

There are real techniques that can get you to see details in a picture that’s blurry, grainy, dark or overexposed. It is also possible to compile data from several frames of video of a moving object to reduce the blurring. But the big blocky pixels you get when you zoom in too close on a picture are the only information that the picture actually contains. No matter what you do or how you do it.

In most examples of an Enhance Button, the tech is able to make out words on clothing and license plate numbers off vehicles even though if they’re blurred or pixelated enough. But in reality it would be far more difficult to guess if the tech can work out the general image.

A car door won’t protect you from a bullet

Watched on: Captain America, CSI.

Even though we have seen a thousand times how the good guys use their car doors as a shield during a gunfire, the truth is a bullet will go through a car door easily. You can tell Hollywood is mixing up concealment and cover.

Concealment: You can’t see through it. Walls, garbage cans, car doors. Some concealment objects may stop bullets. Others will not.
Cover: Stops bullets. A building, A transparent bullet proof shield is cover but isn’t concealment.

Car doors are mostly plastic with a thin metal plate on the outside, designed to maintain its structure against the pressure of another car impacting it, but most certainly not designed to stop bullets. Other than police cars which have been specially designed to resist the impact, there isn’t a car on the market whose doors could stop even low-caliber bullets. Car doors only give you concealment but not cover.

houseDefibrillators can’t save someone flatlining

Watched on: Grey’s Anatomy, E.R, House.

Apparently, the defibrillators they buy for fiction can revive anyone. The paddles, which are rubbed together rapidly before being applied, can bring back a patient from the death in the most dramatic situations. The patient will always jerk violently when the charge is applied.

In real life, the defibrillator is a highly useful and remarkable device, but it isn’t a magical “instant revival” machine. For dramatic purposes, the fictional Defibrillator almost never work on the first attempt, but a second try will usually revive the patient. In real life the odds of success go down the more shocks a patient requires.

A defibrillator does not restart the heart. It stops a dysfunctional rhythm (e.g. pulseless tachycardia: beating too fast without effective pumping, or fibrillation: irregular beating without pumping) in the hope that the heart’s intrinsic mechanisms will restore an effective rhythm.

Invisible force fields cannot stop visible laser beams

Watched on: Starwars

Laser beams are light. Visible light. Anything that stops visible light will stop them, anything visible light can pass through, they can pass through. So how on Earth do they get knocked aside by invisible deflector shields? Mr Lucas? Sir?

A force field is an invisible, impenetrable barrier. Impenetrable, that is, to everything except lasers. If something is transparent, then light can pass through it.

Posted by Shedka

Listen to the whole show here:     Part 1     Part 2


Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someone