Posts Tagged ‘10 Movie Cliches Debunked with Math’


2.You can out run a fireball?

January 14, 2019

In nearly every Action Movie our hero possibly holding hands with his love interest will run and jump ( just in time ) out of the way of explosion. eg. Man on Fire (2004) with Denzel Washington, The Marine (2006) with John Triton, Mad MAX FURY ROAD (2015) with Charlize Theron and Predator 2 (1990) with Danny Glover .

We will use car bomb stats that come from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. (We in Australia can only assume this bureau exists because, um , there are many exploding cigars in America.) You will find these at Car Bomb Response.



10 Movie Cliches Debunked with Maths

November 16, 2009

007bourneMovies aren’t real. There are, however, many Movie Clichés, that look real – 100s of them including

20. A man will show no pain while taking a ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds

9. If you are being chased through town you will usually take cover in a passing St Patrick’s Day Parade- at any time of the year.

Some Movie Clichés look ridiculous when you stop to think about them. Others can be debunked using simple maths.

So mathspigs, hold on to the front bonnet (hood in the US) of the baddies escape vehicle we’re going on a hair-raising maths ride.


1.You can duck bullets.

November 16, 2009

  007 Karen Ballard Brisbane Times

When creeping around looking for a baddie in a house/apartment/disused factory our hero can duck a bullet. Especially good at ducking bullets are spy heroes James Bond and Jason Bourne.

Speed of a bullet stats: The Physics Fact Book T Bolt Target-Varmint

Rifle Shown: .22 Rimfire T-Bolt Target/Varmint

bullet Correction

 NEXT CLICHE: 2 You Can Out Run A Fireball!

Follow the link to the remaining cliches.  


2.You can out run a fireball?

November 16, 2009

PredatorMarineIn nearly every Action Movie our hero possibly holding hands with his love interest will run and jump ( just in time ) out of the way of explosion. eg. Man on Fire (2004) with Denzel Washington, The Marine (2006) with John Triton and Predator 2 (1990) with Danny Glover (Note: In Predator pic baddies cannot out run fireball.)


We will use car bomb stats that come from explosion_tnsthe U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. (We in Australia can only assume this bureau exists because, um , there are many exploding cigars in America.) You will find these at Car Bomb Response.


fireball 1 Correction

Mathspig outrun fireball 1

Mathspig outrun fireball 2

Mathspig outrun fireball 3

CLICHE :  3.  You Can Out Run A Machine Gun


3. You can out run machine gun fire

November 16, 2009

Indiana jones 2Indiana Jones has probably out run more machine gun fire than any other hero. But can you run from one point ot another despite machine gun fire? Here goes. Indiana jones 3

     Machine Gun M60

machine gun 1 Correction

  machine gun 2 Correction

The  question that must be asked, mathspigs, is ‘Can the baddies actually miss?’

We’ll assume the baddies can sweep the machine gun fire along the path run by our hero at the same rate or faster than our hero’s running speed. To survive our hero must fit in the gap between each bullet as it passes over  his or her escape path. Here we go, mathspigs, ak-ak-ak-ak-ak-ak-ak:


4. If you are involved in a car chase, hijacking, explosion, volcanic eruption or alien invasion, you will not go into shock.

November 16, 2009

200px-2012_PosterHere are just a few of the popular disaster movies:200px-Armageddon-poster06 Avalanche (2001), Earthquake (1974), Armageddon (Involves meteors 1998), Deep Impact (More meteors 1998), 2012 (Tsunamis, earthquakes, the lot. 2009), Twister (tornadoes 1996), Backdraft (Fire. 1991) and Towering Inferno (They don’t make thunderous movie titles like that anymore. 1974)  

But what percentage of people involved in, say, an explosion suffer from SHOCK! There are many statistics about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) available. In one excellent study (The National Centre for PTSD Journal  )

involving an explosion in a paint factory in Norway (1976), the 246 employees were ranked for their exposure to shock as follows:. 200px-Twistermovieposter

A. 66 Narrow escape

B. 59 Involved but not in danger

C. 121 Not present on the day.

200px-Deep_Impact_poster 80% Group A suffered shock and PTSD. Both Groups A & B showed symptoms of PTSD 7 months later. If, say, a plane crashed into your school and your class survived with minor injuries calculate  how many students in your maths class would go into SHOCK and how many would be left to take action using the above statistics.

NOTE: Many schools in Australia today not only practise fire drills but terrorist attack lockdowns.


5. You can jump out of an airplane that is about to crash and catch the baddie who took the last parachute.

November 16, 2009

 200px-PointbreaktheatricalThe names Bond, James Bond. In Moonraker  with Roger Moore (1979) 007 jumps out of a plane without a parachute to avoid an assassination attempt. He catches up with, Jaws, arch-baddie, in mid-air and takes his parachute. Jaws survives his fall by landing on a big top circus tent.200px-Moonrakerposter

In Point Break with FBI agent Johnny Utah, Keanu Reeves, leaps from a skydiving plane after Patrick Swayzes’ characer, Bohdi, who has taken the last parachute. Utah catches Bohdi in mid-air, and after a tense confrontation with a gun, both survive using Bodhi’s chute.

There are more movie and real life stories at Free Fall Website:

What’s the deal? Can Utah really catch Bohdi?

Here are some stats from the  Free Fall Maths link:

Note: We’ll assume Bhodi and Utah have equal horizontal velocities (plane exit velocity plus wind) so the following calculations only involve the vertical or falling velocity. The terminal velocities used for Bhodi and Utah are realistic estimates. We do not need the sky divers weight for these calculations but it can impact on terminal velocity so I have included this data and chute open data for general interest.

skydive 1 Correctionskydive 2 Correctionskydive 3 Correctionskydive 4 Correction


6. If the pilot dies the control tower can talk you down.

November 16, 2009

200px-Air_Force_OneIt worked for Air Force One (1997) with Harrison Ford and in Airport 75 (1974). It even worked recently in real life.

Doug White, 56, flying with his wife and two daughters, was shocked when the pilot of the Air King twin-engine plane lapsed into a coma and then died. White had his pilot’s license but he had never flown a plane as large as this.Airport_film

He turned to his wife and two daughters, ages 16 and 18 and said “You all start praying hard.” Behind him, his wife trembled. Sixteen-year-old Bailey cried. Eighteen-year-old Maggie threw up. Fortunately, the control tower could relay messages from an Air King pilot to talk him down.( 13 April, 2009 The Guardian UK)


 The King Air aircraft is used by The Royal Australian Flying Doctor Service.

Air Speed = 545 kph   @  7,600m

Range = 3,338 km

We are going to use How to fly a plane in an emergency on the WikiHow website.     

Your pilots dead. You have to fly the plane. Open the above page. Keep it handy. Now read on but very, very FAST!!!!!!!!!

NOTE: When calculating the distance d remaining (below) I am using 1 / t   x 3,338 ie.  1 hr fuel time left/t total fuel time x 3,338

fly plane 1 Correction

fly plane 2 Correction


7. You can safely jump from a burning skyscraper/bridge/aircraft into water.

November 16, 2009

AngelsAndDemonsTom Hanks character, Robert Langdon, hero of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons (2009) jumps from a helicopter and falls thousands of feet into Rome’s Tiber River and survives, of course._angels1_226

Ahhhh! Look up. It’s raining Tom Hanks!!!!!

There are three factors we must consider, mathspigs, when jumping or diving from a great height:

1. Surface Impact

2.Water depth

3. How long you can hold your breath.

We’ll start with water surface impact. According to the Free Fall website falling into water is not a good survival strategy.  ‘Someone falling without a parachute from more than 2,000 feet or so would be falling quite a bit faster than 100 miles per hour (161 kph) …………The folks who have survived falls into water have had streaming parachutes above them, which probably slowed their falls to the 60-mph range (97 kph). Having a streaming parachute helps in another way because it aligns the body in a position where the feet enter the water first.’

The website goes on to explain that water is an INCOMPRESSIBLE FLUID. It’s like landing on concrete. Landing in mud, on snow, on trees, on circus tents etc helps break the fall. Moreover, jumping off a bridge into turbulent sea may be safer than jumping into calm water.

The next issue is, if you are going to dive or jump into water and, miraculously survive the impact, how deep should the water  be?

Sports Smart Canada (Visual Expert Website: ) recommend that the water depth should be twice the height of the dive. Olympic divers often practise their dives in a bubble pool (like a spa). This reduces the impact for a bad dive but the water must be much deeper. So a water depth of double the height of the drop is realistic if, say, you are jumping or diving from the top of a waterfall into aerated water. You can work out appropriate depths if you were diving into water from heights such as:

eiffel tower

Eiffel Tower:  300m

Note: You would need a big swimming pool!!!!

Sydney Harbour Bridge Clearance: 52.4 m    sydney harbour bridge 2

brooklyn bridge

Brooklyn Bridge NY Clearance Above Water: 41m

10 m Tower/ 4th Story Window:

dive tower






statueof liberty

Statue of Liberty Height: 93 m

Note: Assume you’re diving into water from ,say, a helicopter as in the Demons & Angels movie.



free dive Assuming you survive the impact of the jump and the water is deep enough, would you survive the journey down and then the swim to the surface on one breath???????

William Trubridge broke the world record in Unassisted Freediving with a dive to 88m (288ft) in 3 minutes 30 seconds on 2nd May 2009 which you can view on Youtube


9. A single match or candle will light a room the size of a football stadium.

November 16, 2009

Indiana jones 1Action heroes such as Indiana Jones or even a film kid like Tom Sawyer who go into a cave, an abandoned house, a crypt or a catacomb light the entire place with one match or one candle. Is this real?tm sawyer

Now mathspigs, if you are interested in a career in stage/film lighting or even architecture you will need this maths.

light globe_tns60Watt light globe tells us how much power it uses. But some 60W globes are brighter than others. Light is measured with weird units.

candle_tnsUSA uses Foot-candles. Can you imagine the pickup line ‘You brighten up my world like a footcandle’? A foot-candle is the brightness of a candle 1 foot away. Now think of a bubble around the candle. Brightness is mostly measured using one square foot or one square metre of that bubble:

1 LUMEN = 1 Footcandle/ft squared

1 LUX = 1 footcandle/m squared

Don’t get too hassled by these units.  As a rough rule:

1 candle = 1 LUX

candle 1  Correction

candle 2 Correction 

candle 3 Correction

From graph you can see by 3m a Birthday Cake is not very bright even in a haunted house or crypt.

Challenge: Draw a graph of the brightness of your own Birthday Cake!

Big Challenge:Draw a graph of your Teacher’s Birthday Cake!!!!!! Ahhhh!!!!

We know:

1 candle = 1 LUX

Now compare the brightness of 1 candle to the brightness of other sources of light:

Family Living Room = 50 LUX

Toilet = 80 LUX

Office = 320 – 500 LUX

Indoor lighting Range = 50 – 1,000 LUX

Outdoor moderate sun = 32,000 LUX

Outdoor FULL SUN = 130,000 LUX

If you want sufficient light to live your everyday life you’d need 80 candles just to go to the toilet!!!!!!