The physics of space battles
About this video
Huge explosions, high speed chases, death rays, planet destroyers. Space battles are classic spectacular Hollywood film fodder. But how much science is there in the science fiction space battle cannon?
Joe Hanson of PBS Digital Studios' It’s Okay To Be Smart has the answers, and draws our attention to some of the slightly iffy science that dictates our favourite sci-fi space wars. For example, why are the ships always hurtling along with their engines at full power, when to maintain their speed they should just need one burst to set them on course? And what use are explosive weapons with no atmosphere to carry a shockwave?
Hanson delves into the reasons behind our skewed impression of space warfare. Something to ponder when you watch the next big-screen galactic conflict.