Dr. Who WTF?

Posted by barb on Nov 18, 2006 in Random Thoughts |

We’re currently watching Dr. Who from last night, the episode titled <cringe> The Impossible Planet. All I can say is that the science is gawd-awful. Whoever is giving them astronomy information should be fired (or the person who decided to ignore any good astronomy device). Fired and slapped. Fired, slapped, and kicked in the pants.

Let’s just say that I threw my newspaper at the screen within ten minutes of the show beginning. The science has only gotten worse since then.

Astronomers have enough trouble getting people to believe that black holes are not the giant vacuum cleaners of the Universe without respectable shows (sort of) getting the the basic details of black holes clearly wrong. For example, it is not impossible for a planet to be in orbit around a black hole – stuff can certainly orbit black holes, just so long as they don’t cross inside the “innermost stable orbit”. It might be unlikely for a planet to remain in orbit after a black hole forms, but not impossible for a black hole to capture a planet.

And don’t give me this “nothing can escape the gravity of a black hole” crap. There’s a huge caveat to that statement. Nothing can escpae the gravity of a black hole once it has crossed the event horizon. Black holes don’t just “suck up” everything in the Universe – there is nothing special about their gravity.

Give me a fracking break. And if you can’t get it even in the vicinity of right, then just shut up on the science. We have enough trouble with science literacy in this world without introducing crap science.

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Nov 20, 2006 at 2:24 pm

Thanks for the warning. Kim and I have been enjoying Dr. Who, but I was leery of this ep as soon as I read the description. Perhaps we’ll just skip this one…

Nov 20, 2006 at 4:41 pm

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I had spent all day Saturday at a Girl Scout patch day. I lead two groups of girls in a black hole activity, and in both classrooms I had to answer the question, “But won’t black holes suck everything up?” I can’t blame people for having this impression, given the crap science that is out there. But I may have exploded a bit more than I maybe would have on another day…
(That said, it was still bad.)


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