Hollywood, in its infinite desire to generate easy profits, has decided to do yet another remake of the Jules Verne classic Journey to the Center of the Earth -- this time in 3-D!. As we can see from the trailer, this movie is going to be a special effects extravaganza. Now, while we all know that the entire idea of traveling to the center of the Earth is pure fantasy, and any "science" represented in the movie is not to be taken seriously, we have so much scientific information about the state of the Earth's interior -- much more than Jules Verne ever could know -- that somehow the premise just falls flat.
(Probably, back in the more innocent year of 1959, when the original film version made its debut, it didn't seem so egregious.)
If you don't care, and simply want to escape into the fantastical special effects, that's fine, but for some it might be more fun to use the film trailer to highlight a few interesting principles of physics and geology that preclude a pleasant stroll down into the Earth's deep interior (and saving us eight-and-a-half dollars [a movie's $11.50 here in New York. -ed.] in the process).
Here are a few enjoyable discussion points:
1) Much of what we know about the structure inside our planet actually comes from seismic waves generated by earthquakes that travel right through the interior. Because we know the physics of these propagating waves, we can make very accurate estimations of the types and states of the material through which they travel. (This type of imaging is similar in concept to the CAT scans that we use to see inside the body).
2) Based on seismic data, we know that you don't have to go too far before it gets really hot, and the pressure gets really high. At the Earth's center the pressure is millions of atmospheres, with a temperature around 5000K. This would be an unpleasant environment for a family vacation, although not as bad as Buffalo.
3) The extreme pressure is simply a result of the massive weight of overlying rock. This pressure is so great that the idea of a system of caverns existing down there could only be possible if the gas pressure inside the cavern counterbalanced the surrounding rock pressure. While the most likely scenario is that there are no empty spaces down there, if there were, in addition to the protagonists being crushed into jelly, it would be pretty slow going through an atmosphere that thick. Maybe the body acclimates on the way down, like mountain climbers do as they slowly progress to the summit of Everest!
4) The high temperature results in part from the pressure, in part from the heat released by decaying radioactive materials, and in part from the original kinetic energy of colliding meteorites that formed our planet in the first place. Not such a good environment for finding undiscovered populations of prehistoric animals living in large bodies of liquid water -- although dinosaurs do make an adventure movie more fun.
5) Finally, it's always amusing to consider what happens to the force of gravity as one descends to the center of the planet. It gets weaker. In fact, at the very center of the Earth the net force of gravity acting on an object would be exactly zero because there is equal mass "above" the object in every direction. The total force cancels out. Anyone standing in a hole at the Earth's center would be completely weightless and floating around like an astronaut on Apollo 13. Which is the subject of a much better movie.
Adam Weiner is the author of Don't Try This at Home! The Physics of Hollywood Movies.
Hollywood needs to stop killing physics
I think Hollywood has to make movies that are ACTUALLY REALISTIC. What is this teaching the kids? That if you go down into the center of the earth there will be dinosaurs and liquid water at 5000K? Wow Hollywood has really took a slide here.
Hollywood is not trying to be realistic, they are trying to recreate the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Ya their going to do sooo much better than any other version of this movie cause now we get crappy and very obvious green screen shots in every scene! Can't wait to remind myself to play stupid while I watch this movie just to fool myself into thinking it could be cool.
I take it by your comments that none of you enjoy any hollywood action / sci-fi / adventure movies because of silly liberties and obvious special effects they use while making the movie.
This movie is based off a book, and shows what Jules Verne imagined the center of the earth might be like. Sure, he was wrong, but none of his other stories are very accurate either and they still make for fantastic adventures.
Showing kids (and adults) to use their imagination, create, and invent is never harmful, even if their creations are not scientifically accurate.
By that logic, Wall-E is teaching kids that robots can fall in love, Iron Man is teaching them that yes, they too can build a superhero suit of armor and blow up foreign countries with it, and The Hulk is teaching them that steroids and Gamma radiation can turn you into a big green fighting machine.
What's your point? If the movies don't break the rules, then there is no hope for humanity.
I think people need to learn about the subject of a topic before chiming in. Hollywood didn't write this!!!!! HEllo!!!!!!! They take stuff (like this) thats already been written and dramatize it. My point is that's all they are going to do with this one, and their going to butcher it, again. When was the last great Brendan Fraser movie? Bedazzled? Go figure it's in 3D, they need something else to drum it up and get people in the theater!!!! The biggest thing movie studios take to their advantage is the fact you give them money for something when you haven't seen anything about it besides what THEY choose to show you in a teaser trailer. Before you have bought your popcorn and sat down, they already made bank. I'm all for the stirring of imagination in children, but when it's being motivated by money not creativity, yes I'll have an issue. Get original, or im already bored with you.
Exactly Yaz. Reading these comments shows that they have obviously lost their creativity and immaginations. This movie was for kids. No, its not teaching them that if they have a crazy uncle that likes to explore or go on crazy hikes that they could wind up in the middle of the earth. its just a fun movie to watch. freakin egg heads. and to highdob of course they will show you what they want you to see, its the scenes that will get the most attention so you will go see the freaking movie. Dont buy the overpriced popcorn, just sneak in your own if you have a problem with it. You dont even know what you are screaming about.
Because all of the previous comments were left several years ago, I will not continue to speak of the topic of Hollywood creating movies to just create profits (I should think we would all have that figured out by now- come on, it's their job). Though I realize those accounts are most likely without use and are inactive, I'm still going to chuckle a bit about how our society thought back then. It's cute how you all wouldn't argue about the subject at hand, but have a discussion about your own opinions that semi-relate to the topic. I'm not sure... I'm only a little seventh grader trying to figure things out. BUT add me on Instagram @Wyndsaurus23
I am her.