1. This Sounds Like a Bad Idea.
We learned last week that a Japanese firm has built a billion dollar drill that will be used to drill into the mantle of the Earth. This sounds like a bad idea. If we’ve learned anything from science fiction movies and stories, it’s that there are certain things you don’t mess with, like the center of the planet we’re standing on. You can see the drill, which looks like something out of the Alien movies, in the video.
2. You Really Want To Let Those Out?
I mean, what if there are undiscovered creatures down there? Seventies monster movie At the Earth’s Core has a group of explorers dig deep into the earth only to find that there are some very bad things under the Earth’s crust, like evil overlord races and giant, carnivorous reptiles.
3. But, ‘At The Earth’s Core’ Isn’t The Only Movie About Drilling Deeper Than Might Be Prudent.
Okay, so there probably aren’t any giant monsters living in labyrinthine tunnels below the Earth’s surface. But, At the Earth’s Core isn’t the only movie about drilling deeper than might be prudent. In The Core, scientists drill under the earth’s surface in order to create weaponized earthquakes. But, their actions have unintended consequences, including causing the earth’s core to stop rotating.
4. Of Course, This is Hardly The Only Time That Scientists Have Walked Away From a Story With The Wrong Message.
In Jurassic Park, scientists gathered dino DNA from the stomachs of mosquitoes frozen in amber. Shortly after the movie’s premiere, a team of researchers claimed that they had used the methods in the film, and had gotten a usable DNA sample. The group was unable to reproduce their results, leading to other researchers calling the experiment a hoax; but, that hasn’t stopped scientists from trying to bring back dinosaurs through other methods. One group of researchers is attempting to turn on dormant strings of DNA code in chicken embryos that they believe carry information from the birds’ prehistoric ancestors. They’ve had some success, too. By playing with the code, they’ve managed to give the birds reptilian tails and even teeth. If they wind up with velociraptors rampaging in their lab, they can’t say nobody warned them.
The Jurassic Park franchise will soon have the chance to inspire irresponsible science all over again. The 3D remake of the original Jurassic Park is coming to theaters on April 5, 2013. Jurassic Park 4, the first of the movies in the series to be shot in 3D, is set for release June 13, 2014.
5. Who Got the Bomb? We Got the Bomb.
In the 1914 H. G. Wells novel The World Set Free, Wells imagines a future where we harness energy from the atom. And then, we have a devastating world war where that energy is deployed in massively destructive weapons. Wells even coined the term “atomic bomb.” Physicist Leo Szilard read the book in 1932, and figured out how to incite a nuclear chain reaction just a year later. The book also inspired him to become an anti-nuclear weapons advocate, but, we all know how that turned out. Wells’s warning was ignored – about eight countries worldwide hold a stockpile of around 17,000 nuclear weapons – but, he was in good company, at least. Nine years before H.G. Wells wrote about nuclear weapons, Irish science fiction writer Robert Cromie wrote The Crack of Doom, a novel about atomic weapons that could destroy entire cities.
6. Don’t Tase Me, Bro!
Decades before that phrase was uttered, NASA researcher Jack Cover began developing the Taser. He was inspired by an electric gun created by fictional adventurer Tom Swift. The Taser even gets its name from the Tom Swift novels – Taser is an acronym that stands for Thomas A Swift’s Electric Rifle. However, Cover should have paid more attention to the weapon he was emulating. Swift’s electric rifle has a stun setting, but it can also function as a lethal weapon. Like its namesake, the Taser is more dangerous than originally thought. About 550 deaths in the US have been attributed to Taser shocks since 2001. Concern is high enough that some police departments have altered their Taser policies, and the American Heart Association has recommended that it no longer be considered a non-lethal weapon.
7. Now This is How You Learn From the Movies
The White House’s We the People site allows ordinary citizens to create petitions for any cause they like. If the petition gets 25,000 digital signatures, the President’s team must respond. Recently, a petition to start construction on a Death Star before 2016 gained 34,435 signatures. Paul Shawcross, the chief of the Science and Space branch of the budget office wrote his reply earlier this month. Death Star proponents will be disappointed to learn that the project has been nixed, but, Shawcross gave some compelling reasons for the decision. First, it’s estimated that a Death Star would cost roughly $850,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s eight hundred fifty quadrillion dollars). Also, construction of a Death Star would go against the White House’s policy of not blowing up entire planets. Last, would you want to create a military weapon with a fundamental flaw that left it vulnerable to attacks by a solo space fighter?