Apropos of the Indiana Jones post exploring some of the sketchy physics in the new film, we have this new Irregular Webcomic. (And if you haven’t already, read Dr. Pion’s much more thorough and extremely entertaining discussion of even more Indiana Jones 4 physics!) This comic, like the more famous Foxtrot, is written by a guy who really knows his physics. In the case of Irregular Webcomic, he’s actually a professional.
As is the case with most questionable movie physics, it’s not necessarily integral to the plot. A few days ago I watched the brilliant and classic film For a Few Dollars More by Sergio Leone. Throughout what is otherwise pretty much a work of art, punches sounded like fish being slapped against a tile floor and bullets made a squealing whistle after every ricochet. Of course neither thing actually happens in real life. I can understand screenwriters getting obscure physics arcana wrong, but these things actually happen all the time. Well, maybe gunshots and punches don’t happen literally all the time, but often enough so that even Joe Moviegoer knows more or less what they actually sound like. And believe it or not, in the 40+ years since For a Few Dollars More was released movie studios actually have learned that bullets don’t whistle crazily when they hit something. You simply don’t see that problem anymore in modern films. If I may offer just one suggestion to filmmakers it would be to continue that progress and pay more attention to plausible sound in movies. For instance: light has a speed. Sound has a speed. But they are not the same speed. You can see an explosion before you can hear it. A long time, if it’s a decent distance away. Watching fireworks or even Youtube videos of explosive ordinance disposal ought to convince directors that an accurate delay actually makes the explosion look more dramatic.
It gives me an opportunity to climb the soapbox about one of my favorite topics: science is not just for scientists. Science is for everyone - all it is is just paying attention to the world and noticing the patterns in things that happen. Even screenwriters can do it!