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Copernicus on the astronomy behind the new GREEN LANTERN footage!!


Copernicus here. 

For those who don’t follow the site regularly, I’ve been reviewing movies for AICN for years, but in real life I’m a professional astronomer.  So sometimes I like to weigh in on the scientific accuracy of films.   Last year, I did this for AVATAR and even got to talk to James Cameron about it.  My take is this:  you can have as much fantasy as you want in films if it is important to the story, but just don’t get the details wrong out of laziness.  I find it depressing, and it can sow misconceptions that I have to correct in my class (I teach at UC Santa Barbara).  Some of what I’ll say here is nitpicking, but I think of it as a chance to sneak a little astronomy teaching into a film discussion.

I just saw the new GREEN LANTERN WonderCon footage...

...and I have to say I’m getting very excited!  I love superhero films, and I love space fantasies.  Put the two together and my excitement level is off the charts.  We almost never get to see the full power of Hollywood unleashed on creating truly alien worlds, but it looks like that’s exactly what we’re going to see in GREEN LANTERN.  Space travel, distant planets, and hordes of aliens – I just can’t wait.

First, I should say that I’m only a casual Green Lantern fan.  I never read it growing up.  I always thought little blue men with giant heads looked kind of stupid, even as a kid.  I do like what little I’ve learned about the mythology since then.  But my knowledge is limited to Wikipedia, the Secret Origins book we got in our BNAT goodie bag, GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT, and what I’ve seen on JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED.  The film should stand on its on though.  It does look to me like they are doing a good job of translating the sometimes silly, sometimes awesome source material.  Kilowog, Tomar-Re, and Abin Sur look spectacular – better than I could have imagined them from the comics.  But how is GREEN LANTERN doing in terms of astronomy?  Not too bad, actually.  Let’s go in order through the footage.

The first astrophysically relevant thing that happens in the WonderCon footage is that Abin Sur is attacked and escapes in a pod, which is a very cool sequence.   We see this in the background:



This is a bunch of galaxies.  But notice the relative lack of stars.  That is significant.  Where is Abin Sur – in our galaxy, the Milky Way, or somewhere else?  The footage cuts to Abin Sur, who says, “Heading to the nearest inhabited planet for the selection process.”  When we cut back, his escape pod is still rotating out of control, implying that the new shot is a continuation of the above shot.  And then we see this:




Ah ha!  Looks like that is supposed to be the Milky Way.   Notice the much higher number of stars in this direction.  So it seems that Abin Sur was just outside of the Milky Way when he was attacked.  There are a few things right and a few things wrong with this picture.

What’s right:  Stars are mainly located within galaxies.  That’s why in the first shot, looking away from the Milky Way, we see few stars – there is nothing out there but other galaxies.  But when we look toward the Milky Way we see some stars far out in what is called the halo of the galaxy.  Looks like there is some faint nebulosity (gas) in that direction too.  I think it is pretty cool that they got this much of the picture right.  Maybe they have a good science advisor!

What’s wrong:  Traveling long distances within the galaxy is absurd enough in a spaceship, because the galaxy is 100,000 lightyears across.  Still, you have to do that in science fiction using faster than light travel, or maybe hyperspace, because it is necessary to tell a good story.  But traveling outside the galaxy is just batshit insane.  The distances between galaxies are staggering – millions to billions of light years.  But let’s say you could do it.  You’d always want to be traveling through hyperspace.  He’s not going to make it there in an escape pod unless that thing has hyperspace too.

There are billions of potential worlds in the Milky Way.   If you are writing Green Lantern, why would you ever invoke other galaxies?  It makes no sense.  And yet, as far as I can tell, in the comics they did.  Oa is supposed to be “at the center of the universe.”  As far as we can understand cosmology there is no center to the universe.  And yet, because every galaxy is expanding away from essentially every other galaxy, from every planet in the universe it looks to its inhabitants as if they are the center of the universe.  So I take it from this that Oans are just poor cosmologists. 

I read online that the so-called “Guardians of the Universe” on Oa have split the universe into 3600 sectors, with 7200 lanterns.  Now there are approximately 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe (who knows how many in the whole thing).  If they are truly guarding the whole universe, then there are about 15 million galaxies per Green Lantern.  Each one of those has about 100 billion stars, so that is potentially 15 quadrillion solar systems per Green Lantern.  If each Lantern lives for 100 years, and could teleport from solar system to solar system, he could only visit each one for 200 nanoseconds.  These “Guardians of the Universe” are either the biggest morons in existence, or the universe is unbelievably sparsely populated, or they have delusions of grandeur.

Anyway, this is a limitation of the source material -- I suppose the early writers of the comics didn’t know a damn thing about astronomy, and people have just had to deal with it ever since.  I’ll give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt and assume they are kind of splitting the difference – Abin Sur is outside the Milky Way, but not too much outside.   Or maybe even in the comics the Lanterns are restricted to the local group (everything I’ve read has been really vague about the extent of their influence).

But there is another problem.  Abin Sur says,  “Heading to the nearest inhabited planet for the selection process.”  Now the Sun and Earth are about halfway from the center to the edge of the Milky Way.  But Abin Sur is still a long way out!  Is the Milky Way so sparsely populated that we are the closest inhabited planet?  Looks to me like he’s got to go several hundred thousand lightyears yet.  I hope that escape pod is a hot rod, and he’s not too badly injured.  In the comic there is a reason he’s in a ship (he loses confidence in his ring), so at least there is a story reason for it.

Technically the galaxies we are seeing in this pan should be local group galaxies like Andromeda, M33, etc., since only those are close enough to the Milky Way be large like that.  But who really cares if the artist just put in some random galaxies.

Overall verdict on this segment:  the source material is crazy, but the filmmakers seem to be doing a reasonable job of interpreting it.

Next up, Hal Jordan gets his lantern.  Look at this:

Looks like a Fresnel lens.  Interesting.  That’s a way of making parallel rays over a short focal length.  Sometimes it is used in theater lights and lighthouses.  Notice the waves of energy coming off the lantern.  Interesting, and vaguely reminiscent of interference wave patterns:

Now, is that what normal light coming out of a lantern like this would look like?  No, but I have no idea what Green Lantern energy would look like, and it looks truthy, and so I like it!

Next, Hal figures out the GL oath, owing to something like possession by his ring, and shoots off into the sky:

What can we say about this?  For a start, your eyes would probably not see city lights and the illuminated part of the Earth at the same time like that.  Your eyes can’t see contrast ratios that large.  There are famous pictures like that, but they are composites.  But it looks cool, so I have no problem with it.

Now, what else can we tell from this?   The time of day.  Hal Jordan lives in Coast City, in California (a fictional city near Edwards Air Force Base).  So it looks like this image is oriented North-left, East into the picture.  The Earth rotates such that the sun rises in the East, so this is hours before sunrise.  If this happens immediately after the previous scene, it looks like Hal Jordan was staying up all night trying to figure out the oath.

And what phase is the moon?  Waxing crescent!  It orbits in the same direction as the rotation of the Earth, so you can tell it is a few days after new moon.  You can see a waxing crescent moon in the morning, so that orientation is plausible.

The next shot shows Hal shooting past some astronauts working on the ISS.

Interesting!  The space suits are mostly accurate, but there are two problems.  First, the top part is actually supposed to be rigid – it is actually called the HUT, or Hard Upper Torso.  It isn’t here.  And second, look at all the wrinkles in those suits!  You can tell it was shot in a studio.  In space the suits are under pressure, so they puff out.  Compare this shot to a shot of my favorite astronaut, Mike Massimino (he fixed STIS, the instrument I use), when he was fixing Hubble:

Why do I know so much about space suits?  Mike Massimino and I are actually co-hosts of a TV show on National Geographic called Known Universe (premieres May 4).  Here is Mike putting me in a space suit! 

Notice that even though the air was on, my suit wasn’t under pressure.  Check out the difference in size between the HUT and the sleeve due to the lack of inflation.

So why use stunt suits for filming, and not real ones, like the one I had on?  First, real suits are expensive.  And second, they are heavy – between 200 and 300 pounds.  In the above picture my suit is actually attached to a stand to help support the weight.  So all in all, I can’t really complain about the movie astronauts – after all, they are only on screen for about a second.

Back to GL.  Hal Jordan goes into something like hyperspace (good, not traveling faster than the speed of light), and comes out near Oa.  It looks like this:

Pretty cool, if weird.  I love to see new worlds!  Not a very sharp terminator there (dividing line between night and day), which is kind of unphysical, but not too big a sin.  The background looks ok.

What is Oa like as a world?

Pretty cool – lots of cloud cover and purple skies.  Skies get their color because of Rayleigh scattering.  Light is scattered off dust or molecules, according to the inverse of the 4th power of the wavelength.  So short wavelength blue light is scattered a lot more than red light.  That’s why on Earth the sky is blue (light scattered away from the Sun), and the sunset is red (blue light has been scattered out).  Violet light is even shorter wavelength than blue (look at a rainbow), so on Oa, either the dust/molecule properties are different, or the light from Oa’s star is different than our Sun’s.  We know its light can’t be too different than the Sun’s because the inhabitants of Oa seem to have an obsession with the visible part of the spectrum (why aren’t there ultraviolet or infrared lanterns).  I digress – the bottom line is that Oa looks plausible enough, and cool at the same time.

And finally – aliens!  I love these guys with the big eyes:

Since our eyes evolved to match the output of our sun (we see in the optical where it puts out most of its light), clearly other creatures will have eyes matched to their star.  These guys have huge eyes – maybe they need a bigger aperture because their planet is farther away from its star, so the light is dimmer.  Or maybe their planet is tidally locked and they evolved on the dark side.  Nocturnal animals on Earth don’t have eyes that big, but whales and giant squid do.  But I like to think instead their star puts out most of its energy in the infrared, and their eyes have to be bigger to resolve those longer wavelengths.

And while most of the lanterns are hominids (boo – see my AVATAR article for a rant on that), I really love the few that are just crazy, like jellyfish dude here:

So all in all, from this brief glimpse, it looks like there is a lot to be excited about in the new GREEN LANTERN. It looks like they are taking both the source material and the astronomy seriously, which isn’t necessarily easy.  I can’t wait to see the finished product.



Readers Talkback
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  • April 6, 2011, 9:26 a.m. CST

    Obviously too much time on your hands...

    by kubricksnutsack

    Great you done your research and all, but this film is a fantasy...i.e. It's not real. That is all...

  • April 6, 2011, 9:27 a.m. CST

    FIRST! At Last!!

    by engage

    Always wanted to do that! Lovin the science.....

  • I don't feel so bad about it now.

  • April 6, 2011, 9:28 a.m. CST

    Damn it.....

    by engage

    .....Oh well..... maybe next time!

  • April 6, 2011, 9:35 a.m. CST

    ah, science...

    by CoolFrood

    can't live without it, but too many live without understanding it

  • 'cause this film looks to have a lot of the latter.

  • April 6, 2011, 9:43 a.m. CST

    So when the film is out we can expect a 30 page analysis?

    by Simpsonian

    cool! I won't read it but, cool!

  • So what if it's a fantasy film? The article was a good read.

  • April 6, 2011, 9:45 a.m. CST


    by ColloquiallyBorn

    you forgot the whole thing about how we are Earth 1 and the DC characters actually live in another Universe.. Which makes everything they do and put on screen completely believable.. Hence your theories are now out the door!... PS. you do mention the whole thing about the pod.. you might forget that the ring choses who the next one will be.. maybe it was in a rush and hyper-lightyear-spaceballed-to-plad the whole pod to Earth.. It is a comic.. not actually going on real life specifications about speed and light .. when it's done by a shiny green ring that's powered by a lamp..

  • April 6, 2011, 9:51 a.m. CST

    STFU, haters.

    by Fawst

    Try not to be too jealous that he's made something of his life and has a bigger brain than you. Copernicus, I always grin when I see your articles pop up because they are definitely interesting! Thanks for pointing this stuff out. Unfortunately, you depressed the hell out of me with pointing out the distance between galaxies. I dunno why, it was just a crushing feeling of "ugh."

  • April 6, 2011, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Copernicus, the RING negates all your scientific knowledge

    by Phil Connors

    except for the astronomy and space suit parts :-)

  • April 6, 2011, 10:01 a.m. CST

    look, i was in astronomy club as a kid and all but

    by newc0253

    this is just ridiculous.<p> e.g. "These guys have huge eyes – maybe they need a bigger aperture because their planet is farther away from its star, so the light is dimmer".<p> yeah, i remember reading something along the same lines in some kid's book about aliens when i was 8.<p> and from this, you infer that 'they are taking their astronomy seriously'?<p>

  • April 6, 2011, 10:02 a.m. CST

    An educated, intelligent AICN poster?

    by googamooga

    Would that be considered an oxymoron? Great article Copernicus.

  • April 6, 2011, 10:04 a.m. CST

    Great post, Copernicus!

    by thepentaveret

    I dig it when filmmakers pay attention to such detail. I loved the AVATAR post, too. You should do this as often as you can. And I look forward to KNOWN UNIVERSE.

  • April 6, 2011, 10:04 a.m. CST

    Thanks Copernicus!

    by Carl XVI Gustaf

    I think this made me look forward to the movie a little bit more. More Copernicus please!

  • April 6, 2011, 10:04 a.m. CST

    There are Indigo and Violet lanterns corps

    by iceman199

    And Red, Orange, Blue and Yellow corps. They call it the Emotional Spectrum now.

  • April 6, 2011, 10:04 a.m. CST

    To quote William Shatner ...

    by Cinemajerk

    In that classic SNL sketch where he addresses a bunch of nerdy Trekkies..... GET A LIFE! Lol. Sorry. Couldn't resist. Don't ya think you're being...oh...I don't know...a TAD anal? Lol.

  • April 6, 2011, 10:09 a.m. CST


    by my liege

    I hope there's a reason why all those thousands of GLs can't just team up and take down the big bad (a reason that isn't them all dying).

  • April 6, 2011, 10:09 a.m. CST

    Thanks Copernicus!

    by redkamel

    Cool article! What boggles my mind is how when a scientist, an uber nerd, discusses nit picky parts of a movie in an educational manner, people here still get critical about it. Jesus. I'd also like to add that for educated people who are observant , it's hard to watch a movie when it has simple details wrong. For example the LEDs in the 1960s astronaut helmet during the TF3 trailer threw me off.

  • April 6, 2011, 10:10 a.m. CST

    it is totally absurd that GL's patrol the whole universe

    by SupermanIsMyGod

    But a magic ring that turns thoughts into green energy? No problem! :-) I do enjoy all of Copernicus's Ain't It Cool Guy The Science Guy articles, but when the premise of a story is that a magic green ring gives you superpowers to be a space cop, my disbelief is already suspended to the point where things like this don't bother me at all.

  • April 6, 2011, 10:11 a.m. CST

    Thanks for the science!

    by TheNothing

    I'm just as much a science geek as I am a comic geek, so these posts are always fun. I never get the feeling that Copernicus is condeming movies for taking creative license, just using them as an opportunity to talk about awesome science-y stuff. For some reason, in all the time I've read GL I thought the Guardians/GLs are native to the Milky Way, and not spread across the entire universe. But maybe I've been thinking too small.

  • April 6, 2011, 10:12 a.m. CST

    gAICN- making science fun foreeks who did bad in science.

    by Kamaji

    I'm one of them. Give me Writing, Art, Music, Drama...I got A's. Math and Science...C's and D's.

  • April 6, 2011, 10:12 a.m. CST

    AICN- making science fun for geeks who did bad in science.

    by Kamaji

    I'm one of them. Give me Writing, Art, Music, Drama...I got A's. Math and Science...C's and D's.

  • April 6, 2011, 10:18 a.m. CST

    Copernicus should break down sex scenes in popular films

    by Bobo_Vision

    "In this scene, it can be scene from the way he's swiveling his hips that his penis is not in fact inside her vagina as one would believe. The torque of his thrust is entirely implausible with actual coitus. However, it still caused 30 cc's of blood to gush into my penis, engorging it and making it rise and stand erect for at least 15 minutes."

  • April 6, 2011, 10:22 a.m. CST

    Way to nerd this site up, Copernicus.

    by D.Vader

  • April 6, 2011, 10:22 a.m. CST

    NERD alert!

    by D.Vader

  • April 6, 2011, 10:23 a.m. CST


    by louisse

    surprisingly easy read. do more articles like this please!

  • April 6, 2011, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Kubricksnutsack and Jasonicus

    by MC-909

    Obviously you are missing the point. Copernicus isn't "taking Green Lantern" seriously, he's merely talking about the science side of a $100 million dollar movie. Honestly though, how could you not dig this article? Green Lantern, Avatar, whatever. These articles are fun to read because I sure as shit wouldn't think of this stuff.

  • April 6, 2011, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Copernicus, your review of The Fountain not withstanding

    by mukhtabi

    As a guy who double majored in Physics (light/wave mostly) and Theatre in college, I found your Avatar assessments brilliant and this brief essay neat! Cannot wait to see your take of the scientific aspects of The Green Lantern bearing in mind, of course, that it's more space opera than hard science fiction. Btw I strongly urge you to read BLACKEST NIGHT. It's simply fantastic mythology there!

  • And their design make maneuverability in zero-G impossible.

  • April 6, 2011, 10:30 a.m. CST

    D. Vader

    by mukhtabi

    Now that's prescient clairvoyance!

  • April 6, 2011, 10:30 a.m. CST

    Always a fascinating read! Thanks Copernicus!

    by Fievel

  • April 6, 2011, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Love this article


    Copernicus' breakdown of the WONDER CON GREEN LANTERN footage unleashes astrophysics upon the comic book impossible!

  • April 6, 2011, 11 a.m. CST

    Copernicus - An explanation, of sorts

    by The StarWolf

    The distance to Earth from the edge of our galaxy is indeed quite far, relatively speaking, for a small craft such as Abin Sur was piloting. BUT ... what if he was coming in from an angle of 90 degrees from the plane of the galaxy? Reaching Earth would require a much shorter journey from 'outside'. As for the size of the universe and what a monumental job it would be for the Green Lantern Corps to patrol it, yes, IF one takes the beat cop analogy to an extreme. If, not unlike beat cops are rumoured to do, the GL Corps stops to get kittens out of trees (or the planetary equivalent) then, yes they'd be overwhelmed. I get a feeling the adventures Earth's GL has gotten into over the dedcades are mostly the exception and that the Lanterns really only involve themselves in saving planets from extinction-level events, or major interstellar wars. There might be few enough of those to make the concept work.

  • and u want his space flight speeds to be more scientifically accurate. lmao. scratch one college off my list.

  • April 6, 2011, 11:08 a.m. CST

    You should check out BBCs "Wonders of the Universe"

    by masteryoda007

    This program will melt your brain and turn you into an atheist. Professor Brian Cox is awesome.

  • I want Spielberg to do his "Interstellar" project... Cuz I'm pretty sure he'll dork it up really well with a good hard science/super cool science fiction balance. It's the sci-fi movie his whole career has been leading up to... Also, Green Lantern's looking better....

  • April 6, 2011, 11:09 a.m. CST

    Great Article

    by Hipshot

    You'd be a hell of a panelist at SF conventions!

  • We've learned a lot since 1979.

  • April 6, 2011, 11:14 a.m. CST

    This was awesome.

    by John Maddening

    More like this, please.

  • April 6, 2011, 11:22 a.m. CST

    3 cheers for Copernicus

    by Valyrian_ Steel

    Not only does he actually know what he is talking about and have insightful and original info to impart -- he actually has the pride of ownership to proof read his article. Careful Copernicus, your colleagues on this site may not appreciate your competence and professionalism. You run the risk of receiving an inverted "code red" for being the only guy in the AICN barracks worth his salt.

  • April 6, 2011, 11:23 a.m. CST

    Since when do comics have to invoke realism?

    by Dr. Egon Spengler

    This isn't brain busting stuff Copernicus wrote about. It's all out there for people to read (and research) if they so choose. But Jesus dude, when you watch a comic book movie, learn to push the "suspension of disbelief" button beforehand. I just don't see the point of articles like this... You could write one for just about every sci-fi/fantasy/horror film, novel, comic book, poem, play, short story ever created history. And what would be the point?

  • April 6, 2011, 11:26 a.m. CST

    Way to Nolan-ify Green Latern, dude.

    by loafroaster

  • "As she rode atop the mechanical horsie, and her bosoms went bouncy bouncy, it filled my heart with glee and wonder. Those magical orbs were more fantastic than any intergalactic body I've ever seen. Yet, I couldn't help wonder if those mounds of joy were enhanced by artificial means. <p> So I began to study them. Hour after hour I poured over every nude scene and sex scene she had ever filmed. Of particular use was the scene in The Hot Spot where her boobs hung naturally without being pressed against a man's heaving chest. Judging from their shape and angle of hang, I surmised they were real. Also, the diameter and circumference of her nipples were consistent with the size of her boobies as they should have a proportional relationship in size. Therefore I concluded that Jennifer Connely's boobies were real and quite wonderful, however, those wonderful gifts of nature have since been artificially shrunken, causing a great sadness in my heart. <p> All in all, it's a great scene, and it caused 30 cc's of blood to flow into my penis, engorging it, causing it stand erect for at least 15 minutes." - Copernicus

  • April 6, 2011, 11:29 a.m. CST

    Why No Inrared or Ultraviolet?

    by Lazerman21

    Well all the colors of Lanterns are based on various Emotions, so Green is Will Power, Red is Rage, Yellow is Fear, Blue is Hope, and Orange is Greed. There are even BLACK and WHITE Lanterns, but of course those are not colors but rather shades, and one black represents Death, while of course White represents Life. There are other ring colors in the GL Universe, but sadly, not Ultraviolet or infrared. Probably because most species in the GL universe see in the optical normal range like us. WE ARE THE CORPS! :-)

  • April 6, 2011, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Copernicus is awesome.


    Thanks for this wonderful dose of geeky amusement, Andy. I can't wait to see your show! Congrats again.

  • April 6, 2011, 11:37 a.m. CST

    Infrared, ultraviolet? Pfft, beware my power, the F-Sharp Bell

    by Bass Ackwards

    Rot Lop Fan is a lantern that exists in a galaxy of total darkness, and uses the power of the F-Sharp note to fight evil, rather than green light.

  • April 6, 2011, 11:38 a.m. CST

    Ruined any chance I had to take GL "seriously".

    by CodeName

    Thanks, Copernicus. But it was a fantastic read. Hope you do more of these in the future and school Hollywood on some things.

  • April 6, 2011, 11:50 a.m. CST


    by darthderp

    ...head...swelling...*BOOM!* Uggh...that's gonna leave a mark....

  • April 6, 2011, 11:52 a.m. CST

    I Have A Question for June Bellamy

    by Aquatarkusman

    In episode 2F09, when Itchy plays Scratchy's skeleton like a xylophone, he strikes the same rib twice in succession, yet he produces two clearly different tones. I mean, what are we to believe, that this is some sort of a [chuckling] magic xylophone or something? Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.

  • April 6, 2011, 11:54 a.m. CST

    bobo_vision - LMAO

    by darthderp

    Gold star goes to you, sir.

  • April 6, 2011, 12:04 p.m. CST

    I'm sorry but this film looks really CHEESY so far.

    by Mennen

    We'll see.

  • April 6, 2011, 12:06 p.m. CST


    by Raggles Wimpole

    You're seriously debating the scientific merits of a comic book film that features a ring that allows you to create things with your mind, a superhero whose weakness is the color yellow, a mask that disappears & reappears on its own, and aliens who looks like everything from jellyfish to rocks & a man who gains telekinetic abilities after exposing himself to a meteor? Hey, why don't you write an article about how "The Wizard of Oz" is unrealistic because monkeys can't fly, horses can't change color & lions can't talk?

  • April 6, 2011, 12:07 p.m. CST

    Astronomy does not exist in this dojo

    by Cobra--Kai

    Great article Copernicus - good job! I'd love to see you apply that dissection to films such as 2001 and SUNSHINE, movies that have perhaps strived harder for scientific authenticity. At first glance I thought the spacewalk astronauts were CG creations - but the unpressurized suits were abit of a giveaway.

  • April 6, 2011, 12:09 p.m. CST

    The trailers turned me off completely

    by justmyluck

    Though I think it's being aimed more at the kiddies, so I won't start on it. However, I'm pretty sure Copernicus' analysis was probably the most rational discussion GL is ever going to receive.

  • April 6, 2011, 12:14 p.m. CST

    GREAT article

    by Jam Banjo

    Just made my day scouring the internet worth it my friend. Superb stuff, fascinating. More like this please Harry!

  • April 6, 2011, 12:19 p.m. CST

    Thanks Copernicus - I've lost all desire to see this now.

    by impossibledreamers

    Though I still begrudingly might. I know one of the stunt women in the flick.

  • April 6, 2011, 12:26 p.m. CST

    Thanks for the astronomizing

    by frank

    Of course it is all for fun, but there is no reason not to learn something as well. I would like to see an analysis of the genetics and physiology of the creatures from Alien/Aliens. I have some thoughts on that myself.

  • April 6, 2011, 12:33 p.m. CST

    The whole universe?

    by Voice O. Reason

    Thanks for finally giving a scientific explanation for what I've always known....having 7200 people (or 3600 when I was a kid) patrol the entire universe is just absurd. The reason they use those numbers is because since Oa was the "center" of the universe, the whole universe was split up into degrees from the planet Oa. Each lantern got 1/10th of 1 degree, so there were 3600 (now 7200, because everyone gets partners). The problem with that is that space isn't shaped like a 2D circular map with Oa in the dead center. Not all the sectors would end up being the same size. I was really hoping the movie would revise it and make the Lanterns confined to one galaxy, which is still absurd, but solve a couple of these issues.

  • April 6, 2011, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Love these

    by theMovesMusic

    Thanks man, awesome read.

  • April 6, 2011, 12:44 p.m. CST


    by jericho1368

    Because no self respecting person with two eyes could look at Ryan Reynolds in that doofy costume with that 1978 Roast of the Superfriends mask and actually say the Green Lantern movie looks good unless they were one of the chosen bribed 100.

  • April 6, 2011, 12:47 p.m. CST

    Great article!

    by pendy16

    That was a fun read, thanks!

  • April 6, 2011, 12:51 p.m. CST

    Superheroes get a miracle exception for their powers.

    by copernicus

    Ok haters. I do appreciate that this is a character that makes giant boxing gloves and punches people. Superheroes get a miracle exception. Their powers don't have to obey the laws of nature. I don't care if the ring can do magic -- it still has to follow some rule system. And if it can let you travel through hyperspace, that is totally fine with me. But the filmmakers need to know when the character should be using that power and when they shouldn't. Filmmakers don't get let off the hook for everything just because of a fantastic character or premise. The point is that if they get the details wrong, it is a sign of laziness, stupidity, or disdain. Take for example THE CORE. The filmmakers created a story based on science, and ignored it, figuring the audience would be too stupid to care. You can see that same level of neglect throughout the film, and it is unwatchable. You wouldn't accept a film if a character was driving in New York City and he passed the Eiffel Tower. The only difference between that and a character navigating space is that most people don't know anything about our place in the universe. But those of us who do think that for a movie set it space, it would be ridiculous not to get that right. It isn't hard, and it makes the film better. I'm glad to see that it looks like they've done their homework here.

  • April 6, 2011, 12:56 p.m. CST

    R.I.P George Clooney

    by Daniel2010


  • April 6, 2011, 1:12 p.m. CST

    *sigh*...another talkbacker spreading fake celeb death news

    by darthderp

    I will admit, I did a quick news check, but nothing percolating there. So, let me be the first to call SHENANIGANS. And if I spelled that wrong, too goddamn bad, folkes.

  • April 6, 2011, 1:15 p.m. CST

    Now, if only science could have improved the casting on this flick.

    by Royston Lodge

    Yes, I'm still bitter. Ryan Reynolds is just ridiculously the wrong choice for Hal Jordan. I would have gone with: - Eric Bana - Ryan Gosling - Billy Crudup - Jim Caviezel Someone like that, with more intensity and less silly.

  • April 6, 2011, 1:19 p.m. CST

    Word of the day = Nerd!

    by Zardoz

    Damnnn! That's some serious nerd you got going, man! If you'll notice one other thing from the trailer: Blake Lively is no longer in the film! Why? Because she's a terrible actress, her part in the film sucks and while the space stuff in GL is gonna (probably) be great, the rest of the movie is going to undoubtedly suck balls! So enjoy all the nerdy space, science stuff, because that's going to be the highlight of the movie...

  • April 6, 2011, 1:19 p.m. CST

    No hate copernicus

    by Dr. Egon Spengler

    Congratulations, you flexed your brain power and showed everyone (even those of us who know this stuff as well) that you are well versed in astronomy. *golf clap* We just think it's just, well, kind of pointless. The majority of people who go to movies, go to be entertained and immersed (hopefully) in a story. They're not in their seats, squirming and worrying about details of science. Try to relax and just have fun at the movies next time.

  • April 6, 2011, 1:20 p.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack

  • April 6, 2011, 1:23 p.m. CST

    Green Lantern leader has a British accent

    by Knobules

    Oh thats ok? Also nice plug for your TV show. How timely!

  • April 6, 2011, 1:25 p.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack


  • April 6, 2011, 1:26 p.m. CST

    Well, to be fair, GL is technically fantasy, not science fiction per se.

    by Orbots Commander

    But good piece, regardless. Actually resembles an entry you'd find on Chud.

  • April 6, 2011, 1:26 p.m. CST

    Well, to be fair, GL is technically fantasy, not science fiction per se.

    by Orbots Commander

    But good piece, regardless. Actually resembles an entry you'd find on Chud.

  • April 6, 2011, 1:26 p.m. CST

    Well, to be fair, GL is technically fantasy, not science fiction per se.

    by Orbots Commander

    But good piece, regardless. Actually resembles an entry you'd find on Chud.

  • April 6, 2011, 1:28 p.m. CST

    royston lodge

    by Orbots Commander

    If memory serves, both Ryan Gosling and Eric Bana were offered the Hal Jordan part, and turned it down. Don't know about Crudup. Caviezel will take anything with a paycheck attached.

  • As far as I'm concerned, fantasy filmmakers are indeed allowed an exemption for fantastic story elements, however I demand that they think about how the exemptions they apply in one part of the movie should affect other parts of the movie. It's the famous "Superman going back in time" problem. I can accept that Superman has the ABILITY to spin the Earth backwards in order to reverse time, but ONLY if they also explain why he doesn't do it more than once. Why doesn't he simply do the same trick EVERY time there's a tragedy on the planet? Another great example is the way the limits of Jedi abilities go up and down throughout the Star Wars movies. In some scenes the Jedi can pull off some amazing stunts that really would have saved their bacon in some other scene, so why DIDN'T they use the same stunt? Like, when Luke fell down the shaft in Empire Strikes Back, why didn't Vader simply use the Force to grab him and lift him back up onto the platform? That's my litmus test for "good fantasy" vs "sloppy fantasy". The question isn't necessarily about it being scientifically accurate. The question is more about the implications of the exemptions being applied logically and consistently.

  • April 6, 2011, 1:34 p.m. CST

    Very Cool Read!

    by buster00

    Thanks for the time and effort. If "Known Universe" is going to be this interesting, you just gained yourself a viewer. Cheers, Copernicus!

  • April 6, 2011, 1:39 p.m. CST

    We need more Copernicus on this site!

    by Mozzerino

    Loved that article, it made me even more excited for the flick. Copernicus, thank you for making geeky things educational and doing so in a very well written way, which is also understandable for guys with very limited knowledge on astrophysics. Would love to read something about THOR or other contemporary sci-fi-films in general.

  • April 6, 2011, 1:40 p.m. CST

    @ royston lodge re: your "litmus test"

    by darthderp

    I understand where you're coming from, and you bring up a good point. I just wanted to play devil's advocate and speculate on the examples you cited, from Superman and ESB. In regards to Superman, it's been drilled into him by Jor-El that he is not to "interfere with human history," an order that he adheres to, albeit reluctantly sometimes (see Superman 4 - if you can stand to - when he's asking the Kryptonian Elders what to do about Earth's pending nuclear disaster, and actually even then, he decides to intervene after all, only because he considers Earth home after all those years.). His one moment of weakness comes when Lois dies in the first movie. The realization that he can't save everyone is too much for him to bear, and the human side of him, plus his feelings for Lois, causes him to lose control just that once, and defy his father. Just that once, mind you. As far as Vader's concerned...I'm stumped, I'll admit. Either he was too stunned that Luke would actually throw his life away like that, or Luke had to join willingly, and levitating him back to the platform would be equal to forcing him. Or, maybe Anakin had weak moment; who knows.

  • April 6, 2011, 1:47 p.m. CST

    Copernicus reviews the leg crossing scene in Basic Instinct

    by Bobo_Vision

    "Upon my first viewing of this film, when Sharon Stone crossed her legs to reveal what was in between, it showed me things in this universe I had never seen a woman's vagina. I bought the VHS tape when it was released, and paused and rewound that scene numerous times until the tape wore out and eventually broke. I wanted to know everything about that vagina. <p> There were a few things one could learn upon initial viewing. First, Sharon Stone was not a real blonde. Second, she does not shave her pubes and her bush is somewhat unkempt. These things were synchronous with the character she was playing who was somewhat devious and chaotic. <p> Years later, thanks to advances in technology, I was finally able to watch this scene in digital Blu-ray. I was able to see her vagina and the surrounding vulva in startling detail. It was red and full of bumps and craters, much like the surface of Jupiter. It confirmed my suspicions that she has either herpes or genital warts, contributing to the varied topography of her privates. Yet, this is still in-keeping with her character in Basic Instinct who was a filthy, filthy whore. <p> All in all, it's a great scene, and it caused 30 cc's of blood to flow into my penis, engorging it, causing it stand erect for at least 15 minutes." - Copernicus

  • we need things to make sense in order to enjoy them. We can only suspend our disbelief a short amount before we disconnect with the story. If the story takes too many liberties with known facts, (physics for example) it can completely destroy the illusion and bring us out of the universe they are trying to create. This is why when films come out by people who have some clue as to how and why things work, it connects with us more than films where every aspect is a complete fantasy. Films like Contact, 2001, 2010, Alien at least made attempts to get the science right. Some more successful than others. When films like Independence Day, Armageddon, Day after Tomorrow, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, etc come along, it's like the film makers are saying "You're too stupid to understand the world you live in, so we can shove any old make believe in your face and you'll lick it up". That being said, I appreciate Copernicus' article. I like hearing insights like this.

  • April 6, 2011, 2:21 p.m. CST

    Loved this article, Copernicus!

    by IKilledSuperman

    And would love to see more for other movies. Star Trek, Star Wars, Alien etc etc. Certainly a big step up from the "I jizzed my pants" reviews we use to get here ;-) Don´t listen to the crowd, intelligence and observation rule.

  • April 6, 2011, 2:23 p.m. CST

    Your rant about hominids ...

    by ThreeOranges

    ... ignores the theory, held by many, that advanced life must evolve in manners roughly similar the way it did on Earth. This is, after all, the only successful model we've observed to date. It's not unlikely that an earthlike planet would, by necessity, produce earthlike inhabitants. Convergent evolution, etc. ...

  • April 6, 2011, 2:26 p.m. CST

    I love reading Cosmologist/Astronomers words...


    They're so damn smart and put things into perspective so well. Add Astrophysicists to that mix too...I wish I had the brains to be one of them.

  • April 6, 2011, 2:29 p.m. CST

    @ vorlonkosh...a rebuttal (more of a discussion, actually)

    by darthderp

    There are those of us who, to use your words, "are educated, and have lived in the real world," who are able to suspend our disbelief and still find entertainment in what is clearly and purely sci-fi bullshit. For the record, I enjoyed 2001, 2010 and Alien very much. I also enjoyed ID4, Day After Tomorrow, KOTCS very much. If that makes me a mindless rube, then so be it; I like what I like. I watch movies (of any genre) to be entertained. Copernicus' article was well written; my earlier post joking about "too much information" was in gentle jest. There comes a time, however, when you have to put the textbooks away, grab the popcorn, and enjoy the ride. If the science is bogus, you still shouldn't let it hinder your enjoyment. Suspending your disbelief doesn't make you a virtual Jordy Verill; it just lets you escape the real world for a couple of hours or so. And these days, I don't think that's a bad thing.

  • April 6, 2011, 2:30 p.m. CST


    by IKilledSuperman

    there are theories that presume life-forms very different from what we know here on earth to be a possibility. So it stands to reason that there could be crystalline, silicon-based or even gaseous intelligent life-forms out there. Now, a gas-cloud with a ring wouldn´t look cool, I´ll admit that much ;-)

  • April 6, 2011, 2:33 p.m. CST

    Copernicus just put more educated thought into this single article...

    by BurnHollywood

    ...Then the entire Warner Brothers screenwriting staff has done on every DC movie to date. Scientific accuracy in movies is almost entirely incidental, FYI. But I admire your moxie, kid.

  • April 6, 2011, 2:53 p.m. CST

    Wizzard did it

    by pauduro

    yeap all this crap of THAT CANT HAPEND CUS BLA BLA BLA yea it was a wizzards doing

  • April 6, 2011, 2:54 p.m. CST

    Let me rephrase....

    by darthderp

    I'm not saying, "what's the point;" I'm just saying that getting it right all the time isn't essential to MY enjoyment of a movie. I'm not speaking for everyone else here. Granted, I don't know jack about astronomy; at least not to the detail that Copernicus does, and more power to him. I will admit that when a movie gets a factual detail right - that I can pick up on - it does add something to the value. Case in point; National Lampoon's Xmas Vacation. When Eddie's dog, Snots - a Rottweiler - barfs under the table, that one moment made me laugh harder than anything in the movie. Why? Having grown up with the breed, I can tell you first hand, that is exactly how they sound when they hurl. Gross detail, yes, but one they got right, which added to my enjoyment. Again, I'm not trying to be a troll here; just speaking for myself, representing myself. Contributing to the discussion, which is the point of this whole talkback function, innit? When filmmakers get it right, it's fantastic. When they don't, however, I just shrug it off.

  • April 6, 2011, 2:55 p.m. CST


    by taff

    Thanks for the insight. Very interesting. It drives me nuts when I see movies, books, & tv that play fast and loose with source material like Mr. Dan Brown and how poorly he represented the Bible as well as church and art history in the DaVinci Code. It's hard to enjoy a good story when the author is unable or unwilling to be historically accurate on easy things, like the date of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, let alone big things like what really occurred at the Council of Nicaea.

  • April 6, 2011, 2:59 p.m. CST


    by vorlonkosh

    Quite correct. There are those who can enjoy films that are sci-fi BS. Most of Sci-Fi is exactly that, BS when compared against reality. However, I would argue most of us can't bridge gaps in logic that are too large. I guess it depends on what the movie is trying to sell itself as. Take Austin Powers for example. Right off the bat, you know these movies are a parody and totally tongue in cheek. There isn't anything in that kind of movie that would be construed as being reality. However, a movie like Armageddon or Day after Tomorrow has dramatic elements, and is meant to make you emotionally invested. This type of movie is selling itself as being a possible reality. When known science starts to be taken for granted in this type of movie, we start to disconnect ourselves from it, and can no longer completely believe in the plot as being a potential situation that would ever occur in reality. Thus, our emotional investment is destroyed, and we no longer really care what's going to happen. This discussion reminds me of one of my favorite movies concerning "movie physics". When I first saw the Matrix, I had no idea what it was about. I started to right off losing interest because of all of the BS situations (walking on walls, etc) that was occurring. I was thinking, OK, this is a cartoon, maybe good for some explosions, and choreographed fights, but nothing more. Then as the movie unfolded, the liberties with the laws of physics made sense, as it was central to the plot of the movie. Don't take this as an argument. Everyone is entertained by different things. Even with all of my high expectations with Sci-Fi following known facts as closely as possible, I still think the funniest comedies include scenes with guys getting racked in the balls (Caddyshack). How sophisticated can I be?

  • April 6, 2011, 3:15 p.m. CST

    by Ricky302

    "Since our eyes evolved to match the output of our sun" Really? If that were true then human's eyes wouldn't squint and water when looking directly at it during a clear day.

  • April 6, 2011, 3:18 p.m. CST

    "Also, a film should be as good as it can for it's world."

    by Dr. Egon Spengler

    Interesting. For an editor, your grammar is pretty substandard. Who edits you? See? I can obsess over little things. Can I still come to this site?

  • April 6, 2011, 3:23 p.m. CST

    green arrow?

    by taff

    After Green Hornet, which was mildly disappointing, then Green Lantern, which looks incredible, my son and I wish the studios would have given us a Green Trilogy and included Green Arrow... alas

  • April 6, 2011, 3:26 p.m. CST

    Very little has changed in Hollywood...

    by tbrosz

    Since Irwin Allen had the Jupiter 2 "flying out of the galaxy" when a thruster misfired. Scientific ignorance on the part of filmmakers is nothing new, and I can still remember how impressed we were at Kubrick's "2001" when some attention was paid to how the science worked. They used a picture of a galaxy in the GL footage simply because pictures of galaxies and colorful nebulas look a lot cooler than a realistic shot of interstellar space that looks like the night sky in Aspen. Remember the end of "Empire Strikes Back" when the Rebel fleet is drifting past a galaxy improbably located in the middle of a star field? Same thing. It's there because it looked cool. Heck, they use the word "galaxy" in movies and TV SF just because it sounds cooler than "solar system." That's all there really is to it.

  • April 6, 2011, 3:30 p.m. CST

    Well I learned something at least.

    by grendel69

  • April 6, 2011, 3:33 p.m. CST

    dr. egon spengler is an idiot

    by Mike

    dr. egon spengler said: "I just don't see the point of articles like this... You could write one for just about every sci-fi/fantasy/horror film, novel, comic book, poem, play, short story ever created history. And what would be the point?" The point? Writing an article that's easy to read about something most of us no nothing about and find interesting... look at all the talkbackers who said they enjoyed the article... they like it, they wante more and they find it interesting... THAT'S the point of writing the article... your only point is that you don't understand the point. yet another pathetic talkbacker who takes every opportunity he can to be negative... where do you guys come from and what about your lives sucks so much that you need to bash anything and everything you get the chance to... loser..

  • April 6, 2011, 3:54 p.m. CST

    centers and nearness

    by Dreamfasting

    The word "universe" tends to be used in a lot of different contexts. Is it not possible that the Green Lanterns simply use it to refer to everything under their protection? (yes, it makes the definition of their domain a bit of a tautology). <BR><BR> Also, once you include the concept of hyperspace, the concept of "nearest" may also get blurry. Even in orbital mechanics, you might refer to "nearest pleanet" as "planet I can get to in the shortest amount of time with my engine" rather than as-the-photon-flies distance. <BR><BR> As for the sky colors, there is another possibility - radiation bands, akin to the northern lights (which rather dramatically alter the color of our sky in certain times and places when the Earth's magnetic field gets dented). <BR><BR> ( cool article :) )

  • April 6, 2011, 3:58 p.m. CST

    Right you are, Bobo_Vision...

    by zinc_chameleon

    at the end of 'Green Lantern', Hal Jordan will ask the audience to stand for a moment of silence in memory of Jennifer Connelly's breasts. Brings a tear to me eye...

  • April 6, 2011, 4:11 p.m. CST

    kubricksnutsack, Copernicus didn't need to research this stuff...

    by NativeGaijin

    because he TEACHES it at the university level. Didn't you read the article? Your comment implies that there's something wrong with using a topic that your audience is interested in (Green Lantern in this case) as a means to pass on information they didn't have before. That's what great teachers do.

  • April 6, 2011, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Those that ask 'what's the point of this article'?

    by Player01

    ...remind me of those kids at school who never 'got' why we were learning. They used to tease others for getting top marks and knowing 'useless stuff'. They went on to clarify their philosophy on life and learning, by becoming fast food-customer service operators, recividists, drug-addicts and unskilled labourers.

  • April 6, 2011, 4:36 p.m. CST

    Stupid assholes.

    by Aaron

    Bunch of sub hominids complaining about an awesome article. Go back to watching transformers and your highness trailers and masturbating to the little girl that is Natalie portman you goddamn hating morons.

  • Sure there are levels of disbelief that you can adhere to. But not all of us have access to some top astronomers to get details right that audiences by and large ignore that will never make or break a film. So in a sense I get what Copernicus is complaining about, much how I hate how the stupid Da Vinci Code gets so much wrong, or how many films that deal with computer hacking have outlandish methods and visual displays. But at the same time I can't fault some productions who can't afford to hire experts to figure out all the minute stuff that could hardly matter in fantasy films. If they can all do it, great. If not, well... I'm sure most of us will deal with it. As another point, what do we do when a film deals witha topic on which astronomers are divided about. Do we just stop? Or should the film just assume some things and make up some stuff to tell an interesting tale? Anyway at the end of the day, a lot of things that are sci-fi don't make a lot of sense if you're going to sit down and think about it. Neither Green Lantern nor Avatar. But it's cool to try and do stuff in things that are functionally thought out as much as possible. Anyway it's nice that Copernicus is taking time out to try and put up something interesting. I definately learned a few things.

  • April 6, 2011, 4:42 p.m. CST


    by ImJustSaying

    So as a massive Green Lantern fan, I can answer some of the questions Copernicus had. First off, yeah, the universe really is that "sparsely populated." Secondly, the GLs (and Abin's spaceship which he constructed to be as powerful as his ring) can zip all over the universe wherever the hell they want, and that means faster than light speed. Also, Oa actually is the exact center of the universe. The Guardians have been charting the universe since the dawn of time and moved to Oa when they figured that out. And in terms of the hazy terminator on Oa, that could be due to it being terraformed to be a "mosaic" world made up of the habitats of all the lantern worlds. You should see the cafeteria!

  • April 6, 2011, 4:48 p.m. CST

    Don't you mean, in an hard scifi?

    by Dennis_Moore

    You can have as much fantasy as you want in films, period. Spec fic, fantasy, and science fiction romance only have to be internally consistent, follow the rules they establish for themselves. Demanding scientific accuracy from anything other than a hard scifi is being pointlessly pedantic and a killjoy. Hell, even in a hard scifi or a science fantasy set around our Earth may be in an alternate universe where the laws of physics aren't exactly the same. It's not the responsibility of a spec fic author to teach your students to not accept fictional stories as real world fact.

  • April 6, 2011, 4:55 p.m. CST

    Agree & disagree...

    by Detached

    I like scientific plausability too, big-time... that said... I do agree re the "inhabited planet" remark. When I first heard that, I thought "there must be a lot of inhabited planets between the edge of the galaxy & Earth" (at least in science fiction universes). OTOH, maybe the Lanterns only look for certain types of civilizations or species. But as far as the "center of the universe" stuff goes... it could be that a civilization so advanced it can travel between galaxies, they may well have mapped the physical universe, and hence they established their HQ to the center of it, or maybe their planet really is close enough to the center of it that they just go ahead & say so. A stretch, yes, but I've heard (much, much) worse. Finally... with no offense to Copernicus, who at least took the time to write something intelligent on all this... I am often both amused & at times annoyed by scientists and/or scientific types who say "this is possible... that is not possible." We hardly know anything about the universe, and much of what we know may be "right" - as far as it goes - only to superceded or overturned in the future. So while as I said, I'm huge on the plausability issue myself, I do get tired of scientific folks solemnly informing us that, say, some form of hyperspace drive isn't possible, etc (again, NOT directed at Copernicus, who wrote something worthwhile here). JMHO...

  • April 6, 2011, 5:27 p.m. CST

    good article

    by seppuku

    i don't understand. when harry says stuff like he doesn't know if it makes sense or not but it's cool and he's geeking out people get on him for being too forgiving and just enjoying something for no clear reason other than he does. then when copernicus writes something like this that explains why something is cool and is close enough to a plausible reality to not piss off some nitpickers, people say he's a nerd and should shut up because it's just a movie. i don't know. maybe they're different groups of people and i'm paying attention to the negativity but not the names. i personally love it when scifi movies get some things right. there's way too much crap scifi out there. sure, a lot of it is because it's poorly written or produced, but it doesn't help it any to get basic logic wrong and we're so used to lazy "science" that when things are right or plausible, it's a pretty cool thing. there are some things that are pure fantasy and copernicus, as well as most of the rest of people who like both movies and science, can recognize that and accept it. it's mentioned several times, such as being able to see city lights from space, that it's not exactly accurate but it looks cool and isn't absolutely mind-blowingly ridiculous that it takes much, if anything, away from the film intellectually and actually does add something visually. as for the ring and its powers - someone else said it that superheroes get a pass. some heroes just don't make any sense at all while others may simply be beyond our understanding and others still take plausible reality and just push it over the edge a bit so that it's more fantastic and fun. when it comes to green lantern, the power is not "magic." it is a fictional science. i am able to say that we don't know everything and maybe it's just a science that we don't understand. the oans have been using the technology of the rings long before there was any kind of primitive civilization on earth. look how far we've come with technology in the last century. i can pretend that we might have the science of the GL ring in another hundred thousand years. when it comes to astronomy and basic physics, that's something that we like to think we know something about. if that stuff is wrong, what's the point of even trying? if they portrayed earth as being in the center of the galaxy, they can go ahead and pretend there's a civilization uncannily similar to ours there, but they might as well call it bearth or something so we know not to bother saying that they put earth in the wrong place. anyway, i enjoyed the article. i look forward to more. if you didn't enjoy it or just don't care, you don't even have to leave the site. there's less intelligent aicn reviewers that you can pay more attention to and praise. just don't say "what's the point?" and pretend you weren't mad that optimus had flames when the real optimus didn't. or whatever other nitpicky thing there is for you. everyone has something. will the movie be good? i hope so. i love GL. but it looks cheesy. at least i can enjoy it for the things it gets right.

  • April 6, 2011, 5:40 p.m. CST

    All haters of this article

    by shran

    Are knuckledraggers. You bitch because you have a tiny piece of brain lodged in your skull. i am nowhere near as intelligent as Copernicus but I definitely appreciate the fact that there is some effort on the film makers part to be a bit accurate. And much more so than the trailers, this bit of scenes has me actually pretty excited to see this movie where as i was kind of "meh" before.

  • April 6, 2011, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Oh sod this whole bloody debate!

    by darthderp

    It's getting too late in the day for arguing over all this! We are who we are, we like what we like, and that's the rub. Kudos to Copernicus for enlightening us with a bit of science. On to bigger debates such nuke the fridge the new jumped the shark?

  • April 6, 2011, 5:51 p.m. CST

    I don't care if any of it is plausible...

    by PorkChopXpress

    It's based on a comic book and therefore, it has no responsibility to be realistic or scientifically correct, for me to enjoy it. I feel kind of sorry for guys who feel the compulsion to nitpick the science in movies like this and sometimes destroy their enjoyment of what is simply an entertainment, and not an informative and factual documentary.

  • April 6, 2011, 5:58 p.m. CST

    Anyone who thinks this is overthinking it

    by Shubniggorath

    You're not getting it. When you have knowledge in a particular discipline it is FUN to filter your entertainment through that filter. It's not a case of "Oh derp I'm sitting here twiddling my thumbs I'm going to pick apart this movie to show how smart I am," it's a way of applying your own particular perception on something FOR FUN. As a history student, I do this all the time. Correct historical details tickle my inner geek every bit as much as when they get the superhero's costume "right!" For my 2 worthless cents, Copernicus is my favorite contributer here!

  • April 6, 2011, 5:58 p.m. CST


    by kalel8869

    Copernicus, Your review was extremely entertaining and very informative. I enjoyed it immensely. I do have to correct you on something, but it's not something you would've known with your minor dabbling into the GL universe. The alien creature you describe as "jellyfish dude" is in fact a plant based sentient. I'm not trying to be nit-picky, just want to inform you. bass ackwards, You mentioned one of my two favorite all-time "Tales of the Corps" stories. Rot Lop Fan is easily one of my favorite Lanterns (as Katma Tui states, he is technically a "Green" Lantern). I've been hoping to see him in the background during the movie.

  • April 6, 2011, 6:04 p.m. CST

    Copernicus may have written this article for fun....

    by Bobo_Vision

    ...but the people raging in this talkback seem joyless. Chill out.

  • April 6, 2011, 6:12 p.m. CST

    Lemon curry??

    by darthderp

  • DC should really recton that and limit to the Galaxy.

  • April 6, 2011, 6:22 p.m. CST

    Gaucho pride!

    by El Vader

    Copernicus - great article! Very interesting... I have an ability to suspend disbelief depending upon the quality of the script, acting, and direction... but paying attention to details only makes for a better film. On a side... I graduated from UCSB twice - 1994 (Bachelor's) and 1995 (MEd) - were you teaching then? I had Intro to Astronomy as a Freshman (1989) - but my love for history pulled me in another direction...

  • April 6, 2011, 6:23 p.m. CST

    Didja ever notice you don't get laid much on thanksgiving?

    by darthderp

    Must be all the coats on the bed....

  • April 6, 2011, 6:34 p.m. CST

    This would be my education by the way

    by darthderp

    A doctorate in useless information with a masters in goofy shit. Talkback's tone was getting a bit heavy so I figured I'd try to lighten it up a bit...meh

  • April 6, 2011, 6:41 p.m. CST

    This is a nice little interesting read

    by Smack_Teddy

    can't afford New Scientist right now... but this will do for a geek who likes Green Lantern!

  • April 6, 2011, 6:42 p.m. CST

    The reason

    by Mockingbuddha

    There are no ultraviolet and infrared lanterns is that they didn't think of them. You can bet your ass they'll show up if the authors read this article. It's a brilliant idea really. Obviously, some of the corps members must see outside our spectrum, therefore, there SHOULD be lanterns based on light other than what humans can see. Infrared could be hate, and ultraviolet could be, I don't know, love has been done... Maybe that weird Woody Allen emotion from Love and Death, LUFF.

  • April 6, 2011, 6:54 p.m. CST

    What surprises me about the reaction to this article...

    by Chewtoy that some people took it as some kind of attack on the film, which I didn't get at all. I took it entirely as a "Lets talk about space!" article where every topic was based on frames from the trailer, and I thought that was awesome. That's not being a nit picky fanboy, IMO... That's more like being a Cliff Claven who actually knows what the he'll he's talking about. In either event, it's a fun and interesting read.

  • April 6, 2011, 7:15 p.m. CST


    by mullymt

    This must have been a fun exercise. It was definitely fun to read!

  • April 6, 2011, 8:20 p.m. CST

    This article is nerdier than

    by Tristan

    eating a nerdburger in the Nerdsville Cafe with Sheldon and Urkel while dressed as Bib Fortuna. Revenge of the Nerds is playing on the TV in the cafe. Appreciate the work put into the article, tho.

  • April 6, 2011, 8:30 p.m. CST

    Science is Always Cool

    by Flummage

    Apathy is always... meh.

  • Can't you morons read?</p> </p> To quote Copernicus: "Some of what I’ll say here is nitpicking, but I think of it as a chance to sneak a little astronomy teaching into a film discussion."</p> </p> The author said a number of times that he's fine with the cool fantasy aspects... it's just an excuse to talk about science in the context of a comic book movie.</p> </p> This scientific analysis is about 100x more interesting than whiny fanboys bitching about the fidelity of costumes, or how much better Captain America will be (or how much worse Thor will be).

  • April 6, 2011, 9:07 p.m. CST

    I loved this article as well.

    by Juggernaut125

    A film geek who has tons of real scientific knowledge applies it to a film in a way that determines how accurate the movie's science effects are used. I liked how Copernicus isn't rigidly obstinate about the errors and gives legitimate reasons for why there might be these mistakes. And how he appreciates where the film does get things right and what makes them right. It's a great way to illustrate how nitpicking can be used affectively to increase one's enjoyment of a movie, and how you can see it lowering your enjoyment when the science is bad with no explanation for it. I'd also love to see Copernicus give a review for a movie that might contain atrociously bad science. (not that any come to mind at present.)

  • April 6, 2011, 10:51 p.m. CST

    More mind blowing fun!

    by Underworld54

    I loved the article Copernicus, keep up the good work. I would also like to expand on Copernicus's space facts. When we talk about visiting other galaxies keep this in mind. To travel across one end of our galaxy to the other would take 100,000 years traveling at light speed. I don't think we'll be encountering E.T. anytime soon. Also, when you look up at the night sky pick out a star and look at it and imagine this, that star is so far away and the light you are seeing traveled so long to reach you that chances are that star could have burned out a long time ago but you're seeing it as it looked thousands if not millions of years ago. Mind blowing and humbling stuff if you ask me.

  • April 6, 2011, 11:01 p.m. CST

    More mind blowing fun!

    by Underworld54

    I loved the article Copernicus, keep up the good work. I would also like to expand on Copernicus's space facts. When we talk about visiting other galaxies keep this in mind. To travel across one end of our galaxy to the other would take 100,000 years traveling at light speed. I don't think we'll be encountering E.T. anytime soon. Also, when you look up at the night sky pick out a star and look at it and imagine this, that star is so far away and the light you are seeing traveled so long to reach you that chances are that star could have burned out a long time ago but you're seeing it as it looked thousands if not millions of years ago. Mind blowing and humbling stuff if you ask me.

  • April 6, 2011, 11:26 p.m. CST

    Great article Copernicus

    by EpilepticLurcher

    Fuck the haters. They obviously didn't get the point and simply prove themselves to be intellectual pygmy oxygen thieves.

  • April 7, 2011, 12:31 a.m. CST

    Posts like this keep me coming back to AIC(N)

    by Teddy Artery

    Thanks for the very cool breakdown, Copernicus!

  • ...literally; it isn't. You don't want to use something fun as a way to educate yourself, fine, but don't insult a guy who is at the top of his field and using that experience, in a fun way, to spread a little knowledge to both us and, potentially, to the people who make these films and comics. Secondly I loved your Avatar bit, I never knew that about our eyes and night bision and I've gotten about 400 peope to do the "cover one eye for 30 minutes" thngs and blown their minds! I still think you were a bit extra on the biped, / hominid thing with the Nav'i, but you did agree that if there was a planet seeding thing going on (which I'm pretty sure there is from what I've seen / read) then it was ok. copernicus has used a decent example about driving through New York and taking a right at the Eiffel tower. An example in a real movie would be in Patriot Games. There's a kind of chase scene in it (may not be a chase), where we folow characters on the tube, and it's some ridiculous , magical tube line that goes through about 3 completely different lines around London. Now it may not have bothered most people, but anyone who lived, or had lived, in London was completey thrown off by that. It shatters your suspension of disbelief. Finally, like the man says in his comments, just because you accept the maguffin of whatever the super people(s) power(s) are that doesn't mean you throw everything else out of the window. Green Lanterns do NOT use magic ( I know the 1st Lantern thought his ring was magic) they use science; Arthur C Clarke it.. "any technology, sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic". Just because you can't cnceive of a way to technologically make what you think reality doesn't mean it cannot be done if the correct tech is available. You accept FTL travel and or hyperspace as tech, but assume the ring is basically magic? It's the aceptance of ignorance at all times and a desire never to learn (the man isn't ranting and calling for a boycott, he's educating people in a fun way and saying why be lazy, when you can make a little effort and get EVERYTHING right?) that leads tononsense that makes American seem ignorant and stupid en masse; like filming 2 versions of Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone, because one fool decided Americans wouldn't get a "philosopher" and another decided it was better to keep it that way, rather than saying, wellif they don't lknow they'lllookit up or ask, and filming the movie as originally written. Philospopher not sorcerer. Filming all the scenes where the word Philospopher was used twice really seemed like a better idea? House of Anubis, a show set in England, with an entirely British cast, save for one American girl, but instead of accepting this and showing the cultural and language differences between 2 countries that speak the same language, the characters use American terms and phrases. It's lazy and insults the intelligenceof American youth. It also stiffles it, even if only a little. A difference would be Austin Powers, where at the start an Americn Marching band is used, The filmmakers knew, thanks to Myers, that they just didn't exists, but they kept themanyway because it added to the comedy and the whole routine worked better with it. Noproblems at all and it wasn't an issue. Iknow, from JLA * Avengers that the DC Universe Earth is bigger than ours / Marvel's; that's how they fit all the silly extra cities in but other than that everything else is meant tobe pretty much the same as it is here.

  • April 7, 2011, 2:31 a.m. CST

    I'm a BIG astronomy buff

    by Dr. Egon Spengler

    Absolutely love the field. I just don't find nitpicking movies to be all that enjoyable when it comes to the science and realism. Like I said, it's kind of pointless. Some (most) of you on here take yourselves way, way, way too seriously. I see more responses calling those who didn't enjoy the article haters, morons, fucking morons, idiots, fucking idiots, intellectual buffoons and every other colorful name you can think of. AICN talkbackers get riled up so easily, and become so defensive when someone doesn't like, appreciate, or enjoy something they do. For all the talk of being educated and sophisticated, you'd think some of you would realize that not everyone shares your opinion(s). That's something you should have learned while still in diapers.

  • April 7, 2011, 3:09 a.m. CST

    god, a lot of you angry, whiny jerks are online tonight

    by BadMrWonka

    Of COURSE the idea of actually taking astronomy in a sci-fi comic book movie to task is a fool's errand. but it's also fun and interesting. god, you all really need to lighten up. here's another example: I'm a huge poker player, I play constantly and it's a consistent revenue stream for me (albeit not that large of one). When I saw Casino Royale, they played Texas Hold Em, No Limit, and the hands they got, the game play, the descriptions of finding tells, the sheer gargantuan amount of coincidental large hands and straight was RIDICULOUS. it was so batshit crazy and unrealistic, it completely ruined that portion of the movie for me. now, look one of you whiny assholes could just as easily say, "It's a movie about a spy who dodges bullets constantly, speals a dozen languages, constantly cheats death, yada yada yada, and you have an issue with the poker being unrealistic?" well....yes! because IT DIDN'T NEED TO BE. just hire a pro poker player (I bet they'd do it for next to nothing) to give you some tips. it doesn't bother most of you, because you don't play poker. just like the astronomy in Avatar, Green Lantern, etc. doesn't bother you, because YOU ARE NOT AN ASTRONOMER. (I'm sure if someone ran the fryer incorrectly in a movie about Arby's, you'd be up in arms, badum bum!) seeing a movie (or a trailer) through someone else's eyes is fun an interesting. if you can't appreciate it, that's your fault, and your loss. stop fucking whining about Copernicus doing articles like this. most of us like it. if you don't, just skip them and stop bothering the rest of us. you're like an annoying jerk who goes into an italian restaurant and complains that they don't have cheeseburgers.

  • April 7, 2011, 3:27 a.m. CST

    Dr Egon Spengler

    by Happyfat73

    If you thought this article was nitpicking, then you completely failed to grasp the point of it.</p> </p> The point wasn't to go "The science is wrong. Fail!"</p> </p> The point was - hey guys, there's some actual science to be found in here if you feel like learning something in a fun context.</p> </p> If you think that's pointless, well, that says more about you than it does the author.

  • Yeah, but of the 15 quadrillion solar systems, how many would have life? Let's just say for argument's sake it's 1 in 10,000. So you're down to 1.5 trillion. How many of those have *intelligent* life? Say 1 in 10,000 of those, again just for argument's sake. So now you're down to 150 million. How many of those have civilizations developed to the point where their technology is evolved enough to present a threat requiring the intervention of a Lantern? If we go back to the 1 in 10,000 standard, we're down to 15,000. Now, how many of *those* are evolved past the point of ego-driven pissing contests, or beyond the point where the Lanterns could intervene even if they wanted to - or whose psycho-biology didn't lead to civilizations evolving in that way in the first place? Let's say 2000. So we're down to about 13,000 solar systems that are truly wards of each Green Lantern. Now, at any given time, how many of those are actually going to be in immediate need of a Green Lantern's services? That's completely believable, especially considering that they can move almost instantly between systems, and assuming they have some kind of warning system, or "6th sense" that alerts them when they're needed.

  • April 7, 2011, 4:19 a.m. CST

    Dr. Egon Spengler

    by BadMrWonka

    I've never really watched Anime. Just isn't my thing. So, when I see an AICN article about Anime, I just don't click on it. Then, I go about my life, letting the people who enjoy it discuss things with each other in the talkback. What I don't do is go into the talkback and tell everyone that what they're enjoying is pointless and stupid. That's just mean spirited. Now, can you tell me that's not what you're doing? I'd love to hear why you think that because YOU don't enjoy a particular type of article, it has no reason to exist at AICN. Wouldn't it make sense for you to just avoid Copernicus' articles, and leave them for the 95% of us that enjoy the hell out of them? Of course, that wouldn't allow you to display your contrarian viewpoint and absorb all the attention it brings you. Maybe we're closer to the underlying problem here. Behavior is tolerated on the internet that, if displayed in the real world, would be considered signs of possible mental illness. If I go to a restaurant, and they don't have any dishes I like, I just don't go there anymore. If I came back every few days and demanded the same dishes that they don't have, while telling them that their dishes are terrible, they'd (rightly) think I was nuts. Yet, here you are online, proudly proclaiming yourself as the arbiter of taste, and I'm willing to bet that you see absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's fascinating, honestly...the difference between how people act in reality vs. online. Here's a good test for you, if you think you're up for it: Why don't you go to a screening of a movie you don't have any interest in seeing, walk up to the front of the theater just as it starts up, and explain to everyone there why you think the movie is pointless and stupid. If you're not arrested (or beat up), and you're able to make it through your little rant in one piece, you might then find yourself walking back out of the theater mumbling a phrase that I see you are very familiar with: "What was the point of that?"

  • April 7, 2011, 4:37 a.m. CST

    To all the naysayers against me...

    by kubricksnutsack

    I understand that the writer knows his onions. Good for him. I would never denigrate his knowledge of his subject. Intelligence is power. I bow to his greater intelligence. But articles like this (no matter how you dress them up) just suck the life out of sci-fi for me. I understand why people write articles like this - they want to show off and say "look at me. I know all this stuff" - that's fine as many people enjoying showing off. The point of sci-fi, for me that is, is to turn off my brain for a while and lose myself in the fantasy. Life is hard, life is shit and losing yourself in a sci-fi movie is a treat that shouldn't be spoilt. On the other hand, as a kid I watched Cosmos and numour documentaries on space and I'm currently watching "Wonders of the Solar System" - but if Carl Sagan or Brian Cox came up to me and told me that the yellow sun giving Superman his powers is a nonsense I would punch them in the throat for their troubles. Great article - but I still think you've got too much time on your hands.

  • April 7, 2011, 5:06 a.m. CST

    If you can find a way to punch Sagan

    by MoffatBabies

    I'll thank you endlessly and let you lean your other arm on my shoulder while you do it. Then I'd have to beat the shit out of you while greeting Carl and asking how he came back from the dead. Then apologizing to you if it turned out you had anything to do with it. Oh and fantastic article!

  • April 7, 2011, 5:54 a.m. CST

    gone for months and the site is still

    by MoffatBabies

    just a mess. Only sometimes works. Said out of love folks. Said out of love.

  • April 7, 2011, 5:56 a.m. CST


    by u.k. star

    Science fiction isn't about switching off your brain; even science Fantasy isn't always about that. "Science fiction is a literature of ideas". At its best and most complex science fiction makes you think more than pretty much any other kind of fiction; because as well as politics, ideology, drama, romance etc it will also challenge the way you view the world or universe and your / our place in it. Where we've come from and what we could become. True Science Fiction knows that magic is merely what the ignorant call what they cannot understand and many, if not all, things may become possible with sufficiently advanced technology. Anyway if you only watch films like Star Wars, where the science is irrelevant that's fine, there's nothing wrong with it at all, but don't try and knock the people out there who like "hard" sci-fi and please don't try to say that Asimov, Clarke or Dick wrote nothing but stories that allowed you to switch off your brain, because they mostly wrote stories that require even the brightest of us to have a dictionary handy and our brains very much switched on. It isn't people who don't like this article I, and most others, have a problem with it's the fact that they are hurling abuse at and / or (like you) insulting the author. There’re millions of kids that could have done with a science teacher relating science to fun things like this author does, instead of bombarding them with what seemed like nonsense and letting them slip through the cracks. Since when does something not interesting you, or not appealing to you mean it must be shit and you can hurl abuse at its creator or blindly accuse them of nothing but vanity and hubris? Also there's o reason for them to say that Superman getting his powers from a yellow star is nonsense, because that's the conceit the creators / authors came up with. Now they might say it seems implausible, but again I doubt they'd bother and they may take the opportunity to come up with ways that the sun giving a life form powers could work, but they'd be far more likely to suggest that A human going to Krypton and getting the same powers because of the light / radiation / sound (?) from a red star is bollocks: But even then, I'm guessing based on reading more than one Copernicus article, he'd simply say, it's nonsense but it's consistent with the mythology of the character so ok, just know it's nonsense. It's like all that stuff in the 50s where people would take oxygen pills and go strolling around in space, as if that would be enough. I knew it was nonsense, but I still had fun. I see no problem with people telling kids, don't believe this, have some actual knowledge and can't see why that should stop science fantasy being fun. Or do you think everyone who has ever read Spider-Man really though a radioactive spider bite could give you powers like that. (Not the original 60s kids.

  • April 7, 2011, 6:30 a.m. CST

    u.k. star

    by Jam Banjo

    Thank You! Exactly what I thought when I read the line: "The point of sci-fi, for me that is, is to turn off my brain for a while and lose myself in the fantasy." kubricksnutsack, You're thinking of Transformers if you think turning your brain off helps. Any true Science Fiction will make you think. That doesn't make it boring, or difficult, or hard. It makes it more fun, more absorbing. If anything, a film that makes you think is going to - by definition - make you lose yourself more effectively. A piece of shit film like Transformers 2 or KOTCS will make you less removed from the reality of life. You can't get truly involved watching either of those films, you always know you're watching a film, you're never captivated, therefore you can never lose yourself. Great films and great sci-fi hold your attention for a couple of hours and take you to another place. KOTCS, however, made me wish I was in another place. Anywhere but in the cinema watching it.

  • April 7, 2011, 7:56 a.m. CST

    Re: halfbreedqueen/edge of galaxy

    by Detached

    I don't know if anyone can clearly say how far it is from Earth to the "edge" of the galaxy, since it's probably hard to say exactly where the edge is, at least from what I've read. I would guess it's at least 5 to 10,000 light years, and possibly more. Depending on the direction someone was coming into the galaxy (if such a statement is possible re hyperspace travel), then maybe Earth would be the first civilized planet one would encounter, or at least the first planet that met the appropriate requirements.

  • April 7, 2011, 9:16 a.m. CST

    Thanks for an interesting article Copernicus

    by Rhoov

    And to all you haters out there, STFU. Copernicus wrote about something he knows and enjoys, and he knows it well. He shared his point of view on this, and all you can do is berate him for it? Who needs to get a life? Copernicus watches movies differently than a lot of us, he notices things most people do not even see. He shared that with us and for that, I thank him.

  • April 7, 2011, 9:27 a.m. CST


    by DonQuixote just ratched up the Cool factor of this site (and perhaps the movie itself, which was already looking pretty cool) by about 10-to-the-billionth power. Thanks for the outstanding analysis.

  • April 7, 2011, 10:23 a.m. CST

    Casino Royale

    by redkamel

    Yeah, I know what you mean about the hands. I just assumed it was because they were only showing the highlights of a really long game. Deep down I knew that if they didn't have those hands, the audience wouldn't be impressed ("he won with 3 of a kind?"). Also, most people don't understand poker. Which is also why they played fucking Texas Hold'em instead of Baccarat or another game. I am sure all the richest most powerful European gamblers love a good game of Texas Hold'em! Might as well have played Egyptian Rat Fuck.

  • April 7, 2011, 11:24 a.m. CST

    "Casual Green Lantern fan"

    by Transhuman


  • April 7, 2011, 11:45 a.m. CST

    Great read Copernicus and thank you.

    by Wayne Tyree

    Hey folks, he clearly stated he was going to nit-pick so lighten up. Who knows, maybe some of you will actually learn something. I remember "discussing" the movie Signs with some poster who was bent on the aliens NOT being more intelligent than Earthlings. When I offered up that the very fact that they got here was proof of superior intelligence due to their ability to solve the paradox of faster than light travel. Walp, the poster thought I was "making up all that Einstien shit!" Any way, keep it up Copernicus as I always enjoy your fun nit-picking.

  • April 7, 2011, 11:46 a.m. CST


    by Marat

    I'll read this when I get home. I'd like to see your assessment of space in MASS EFFECT or STAR WARS some time.

  • April 7, 2011, 2:27 p.m. CST

    Green Lantern: Ring True™

    by Friendo

    Ain't it cool. On the other hand, I really hate all the pinheads who say "lighten up" or "get a life" in response to this piece. Yes the ring is magic but it is magic IN RELATION TO the real world. It's not that GL has no underpinnings or rules to push off of. The character is tethered to and emerges from our reality, so getting that right will only make the fantasy elements more fantastic. Otherwise just make a cartoon already. And that's part of the appeal (usually) of even bothering to do a live-action interpretation of a comic book character; making it manifest in the so-called real world. So yeah, make it ring true. Make it pass this kind of smell test. It improves the product, assholes. Great piece Copernicus. Keep 'em coming.

  • There's something painfully ironic about a site that examines irrelevant genre plots in excruciating, anal-retentive detail complaining about a "nerdy" article...

  • April 7, 2011, 5:57 p.m. CST


    by Smack_Teddy

    they kind of done that recently with Geoff Jeons mass update/coverage... kind off

  • April 7, 2011, 5:58 p.m. CST

    i bought New Scientist anyway, my landlords an arsehole

    by Smack_Teddy

  • April 7, 2011, 5:59 p.m. CST

    Geoff Johns dammit!

    by Smack_Teddy

  • April 7, 2011, 6:11 p.m. CST

    Awesome stuff

    by ByTor

    This is a great article. For those who are slamming it...I don't get it. He's not ragging on the movie. He's simply adding some knowledge/perspective. And he's right in that films that just completely ignore basic scientific principles are lazy. My wife teases me because I'm a network engineer and when I watch a TV show or movie get networking stuff really wrong, I mention it. She tells me to shut up. We kid each other. But...I'm not raging, and I'm still watching. I just think it's cool to learn stuff. There's an M.D., for example, that writes a blog about House and comments on all the medical stuff. I find it fascinating. If some lawyer wrote a blog about some legal show, I'd probably read that too...because I like learning. And if Copernicus keeps writing these articles, I am damn well gonna read 'em.

  • April 7, 2011, 9:28 p.m. CST

    @hatethanet - Perfectly right my friend..

    by ColloquiallyBorn

    Actually .. that was my point.. I mean who cares.. It's freaking comic books.. You can put in real astronomy in there.. but at the same time there's a green martian hangin' around a man who dresses as a Bat while a redheaded dude runs around the US in 0.5 seconds.. I mean.. To do this extended analysis you have to really love nitpicking.. Let's just hope that DC made a good superhero film.. that's it..

  • April 7, 2011, 10:31 p.m. CST

    Great job! Just one quibble from a fomer astronomer...

    by travisc

    ...there are not 15 quadrillion "solar" systems. There is only one. Peace!

  • April 7, 2011, 11:01 p.m. CST

    Most interesting article in months.

    by slaughterstorm

    thanks copernicus!

  • April 7, 2011, 11:06 p.m. CST

    Milky Way

    by gbc204

    Haven't read all the comments here, so I don't know if this has been brought up, but just because there's a spiral galaxy in the picture there doesn't mean it's the Milky Way. In fact, the Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy, which, I think, would look different from the galaxy shown in that frame. So it's not totally unreasonable that earth would be the closest inhabited planet if he were actually in the milky way. And not to get even geekier, but wasn't Abin Sur the GL of the same sector that Hal Jordan became GL for? So you'd think he'd already be relatively near earth to begin with.

  • April 8, 2011, 12:16 a.m. CST

    some answers

    by copernicus

    Wow, Harry tweeted that this talkback was like being at a convention, and he wasn't kidding. Most people seemed to have liked the article though. Thanks for all the nice comments and people who have contributed to the discussion. gbc204: that's a good observation, but there is a reason I think that has to be the Milky Way. It is because from anywhere in our galaxy, all the background galaxies look the same as they do from Earth. That's because other galaxies are very far away compared to the size of the milky way. So since we never see that huge galaxy from Earth, he can't be in the Milky Way. Plus, if you are in the MW the star field would be denser, you'd see the plane of the Milky Way, etc. And instead of seeing other galaxies around, you'd see nebulae. So he could be in the Milky Way, but in that case the astronomy is very wrong. As for the edge of the galaxy, I said we're about halfway from the center to the edge (i.e. midway in terms of radius, not diameter). See: Although there it depends on what you call the edge. There is a fair amount of uncertainty about the extent of the Milky Way and our place in it. The accepted distance from Earth to the center is about 25,000 lyr, and we guess the MW is 50,000 lyr in radius, so halfway. imjustsaying and others, thanks for the answers from the GL universe! As far as hominids probably being rare, just look at the Earth. There are about 2 million species known, and possibly 10 million or so out there. But there is only (now) one set of humans, and what, maybe hundreds of hominid species? And that is a hugely biased number since we come from a common ancestor. With all of the random chance involved in evolution, the chances of making a hominid on another planet are slim. I don't buy convergent evolution when you aren't starting from near the same place.

  • April 8, 2011, 3:25 a.m. CST


    by BadMrWonka

    I swear to god/xenu/Soderbergh, you need to do articles like this for not only every sci-fi movie that comes out, but for ones from the past as well. I know you have a "real job", but you need to let Harry know what it would take for you to do this. Nerds like us have a disproportionate amount of disposable income. I mean, I don't even buy all of the dolls and collectibles, so I've got money to burn on an established astronomer dissecting sci-fi movies. We will subsidize this shit, that's all I'm saying. These articles are like heroin to me, and arguing against contrary jerks who don't get it only sustains my high so long. (although I'm particularly proud of my restaurant, movie speech and Casino Royale analogies above) Seriously, these are GREAT articles, and I can honestly tell you that there is enough meat on this idea to sustain a book, a blog, a new website, whatever. Think about it. If the worst case scenario is that you just keep writing articles like this once in a while for AICN...well...I guess it'll have to do. But I'm jonesing for more, sir!

  • April 8, 2011, 12:27 p.m. CST


    by copernicus

    Thanks badmrwonka. Always good to know the effort is appreciated. Yes, the multiple jobs are keeping me busy: researcher, professor, tv, and film writing. Today I finish the last shoot for the TV season, so maybe I'll have time to do a few more articles like this.