GGG#010: Space Battles! Giant Ants! Physics! (Guest: Tom Rogers)


Tom Rogers, author of Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics, joins us to talk about exploding cars, battles in space, and the problem of scale in the insectoid world. Dave and John discuss how much science there should be in science fiction.



0:00 Introduction by

0:46 Dave and John introduce the show

Interview: Tom Rogers

Tom Rogers, author of Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics02:55 Interview begins

03:11 Tom’s background and how he got interested in science

04:36 Flashing bullets, exploding cars and the website that resulted

10:15 Nuclear bombs: the solution to incoming asteroids?

11:12 The problems with blowing up alien space ships

13:30 The wheelbarrow as munitions delivery system

14:13 Do we need to worry about giant ants any time soon?

15:30 Find out which movie Tom thinks is scientifically the worst movie of all time

16:35 Don’t despair, fellow geeks—there are a few movies with reasonably good science!

18:34 The limitations of humans and cybernetic counterparts

21:01 More movies that get some things right

22:23 Tom’s opinion of the recent Star Trek movie

24:36 Feedback from movie fans

26:03 How to get better scientific realism in movies

30:33 End of interview

Dave and John talk about science in science fiction

31:36 Dave’s fall from grace: Red Shift Rendezvous by John E. Stith

37:04 Other stories that combine hard science with some necessary fudging: Time for the Stars by Robert Heinlein; Larry Niven’s The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton. Discussion of telepathy and mental powers as an SF trope, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

44:02 The Kheper scale, Grading SF for Realism; also see The Moh’s Scale of Scientific Hardness

46:29 Created worlds in science fiction: Larry Niven’s Ringworld; Hex and “The Other Side of Jordan” by Allen Steele (which can be found in Federations); Iain M. Banks’s Culture series and story collection State of the Art; the work of Alastair Reynolds: Revelation Space, Zima Blue and Other Stories, Deep Navigation, and Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days

53:09 Dave and John have some advice for movie makers

55:37 More on the new Star Trek movie, and what’s the deal with sexy aliens? Whatever it is, John won’t judge you.

58:28 Dave and John explain the Singularity

01:00:39 Show wrap-up

Next week: Alexandre Phillippe, director of The People vs. George Lucas

Thanks for listening!

John Joseph Adams ( is an anthologist, a writer, and a geek. He is the editor of the anthologies By Blood We Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThe Living Dead (a World Fantasy Award finalist), Seeds of Change, and Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse. He is currently assembling several other anthologies, including Brave New Worlds, The Living Dead 2, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, and The Way of the Wizard. He worked for more than eight years as an editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and is currently the fiction editor of Lightspeed Magazine, which launches in June 2010.

David Barr Kirtley ( is a writer living in New York who has been called “one of the newest and freshest voices in sf.” His short fiction appears in magazines such as Realms of Fantasy and Weird Tales, and in anthologies such as The Living Dead, New Voices in Science Fiction, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year, 2008 Edition.

Show notes compiled by podtern Christie Yant. Friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


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