Top 5 Myths About Space that Hollywood Taught Us

Written by Michael Wynands Space may be the final frontier, but it’s made in a Hollywood basement. And in Hollywood, the laws of physics rarely seem to apply. Welcome WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the top five myths about space that had us falling out of orbit. Special thanks to our users Ashjbow and Christopher Iturrizaga for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Written by Michael Wynands

Top 5 Myths About Space


Space may be the final frontier, but it’s made in a Hollywood basement. And in Hollywood, the laws of physics rarely seem to apply. Welcome WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the top five myths about space that had us falling out of orbit.

#5: Asteroid Belts Are Dangerous


“The Empire Strikes Back” features perhaps the most iconic asteroid field in cinema, but Han is anything but Solo when it comes to navigating these obstacles in sci-fi films. Asteroids belts are THE go to hazard in any chase scene set in space. While asteroid belts are very real, the tightly packed asteroid formations that make for such high stakes piloting are total works of fiction. In reality, asteroid belts are immense - our solar system’s own belt contains somewhere between 1.1 and 1.9 million asteroids. But these asteroids are spread far apart, often with hundreds of thousands of miles of empty space between them. Basically, Jar Jar Binks could drive an Imperial Star Destroyer through an asteroid belt without scratching the paint.

#4: Humans Instantly Freeze In Space


Space is not the death trap Hollywood would have you believe. You will die if you suddenly find yourself jettisoned into space without the appropriate equipment, but it won’t result from a sudden flash freezing as depicted in so many films. Given that space is a vacuum, there is a lack of particles to soak up your body’s natural heat, meaning that your body would cool unnaturally slowly for such low temperatures. The most likely cause of death in a real world space scenario, is asphyxiation. In space, you’ll likely to run out of oxygen in as few as 15 seconds due to the difference in pressure, and your brain will die minutes later. So forget the cold, you’ll be dead long before you freeze.

#3: Astronauts Exist in Zero Gravity


When an astronaut floats around in space, we often refer to it as “zero gravity”, but the truth of the matter is that gravity exists everywhere, in varying degrees of force throughout the universe. For example, at the International Space Station (ISS), astronauts still experience 90% of earth’s gravitational force. What we often refer to as “zero gravity” is in fact microgravity, which might give the appearance of weightlessness, but is in fact, a form of perpetual freefall. In freefall all objects fall at the same rate, regardless of mass, which means that everything appears weightless. Thus, astronauts experience weightlessness, while remaining fully in gravity’s grasp as they freefall in orbit around the planet.

#2: There Are Explosions in Space


There’s no explosion like a space explosion. Because... there aren’t really explosions in space. Or at least, not fiery explosions as we typically see in film. In order for combustion to take place, there needs to be oxygen, and if space is known for one thing, it’s a distinct lack of oxygen. While a spacecraft contains oxygen for the astronauts to breathe, providing some fuel for an explosion, any sort of fire would almost instantly be snuffed out by the vacuum of space - the oxygen immediately consumed. You can criticize sci-fi filmmakers for exaggerating, but the honest truth is, space combat would be significantly less thrilling if it were grounded by physics. The vacuum of space means no explosions and... no SOUND.

#1: Black Holes are Vortexes of Destruction


Black holes… we still have a lot to learn about them, but one thing we do know is that they have their limitations. Like with anything else, mass dictates their gravitational force. They are not constantly expanding, insatiable doorways to nowhere hungrily sucking up the universe. To better understand black holes, consider the “Bart Simpson Effect”, as illustrated by Principal Skinner’s 3-D model. Bart is a black hole of failure, that pulls every student around him into a “cone of ignorance”. But even his reach is limited, and the students on the periphery of the classroom are unaffected! That being said, if you ever find yourself within range of a real black hole, the repercussions will be significantly worse than failing grades.

So how many of these myths did you believe? For more intergalactic top 10s and out-of-this-world Top 5s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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