Neil deGrasse Tyson Fact Checks And Nitpicks Gravity

fb share tweet share

NDT gravityRenowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is a self-proclaimed science fiction movie nerd, but he’s never shy about nitpicking the movies when they get the science wrong. In the past, Tyson has poked holes in various popular sci-fi movies such as Prometheus, Men in Black, and The Avengers. He has also skewered Titanic when he told James Cameron that the stars’ alignment in the night sky while the ship was sinking were completely wrong. Cameron actually worked with Tyson to fix the problem for later editions of the Academy Award-winning film. Now it seems that Tyson has focused his nitpicking attention to Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity.

Last Friday, Gravity was released in theaters to a record-breaking box office weekend. Neil deGrasse Tyson took to Twitter on Sunday night to let his followers know what’s wrong with Gravity‘s science and outlook on space. First he commented on the title:

If that wasn’t enough, Tyson then took issue with Gravity‘s main scenario, namely with the notion of a medical doctor working on the Hubble Telescope. For the record, Dr. Ryan Stone said that her work with hospital imaging technology was what led her to work on the Hubble Telescope while orbiting the earth.

Then Neil deGrasse Tyson took out his claws and fact-checked a majority of Gravity’s narrative and science. It’s almost too bad that he was paying more attention to the science more than the fiction. Otherwise, he might have gotten lost in Alfonso Cuarón’s brand of storytelling.

Gravity‘s comparisons to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey are surface level. If you dig deeper into the film, you can see that Gravity is going for something broader and more crowd pleasing than Kubrick’s science fiction art film. Nevertheless, Tyson pointed out the parallels between the two films, while saying that he prefers Kubrick’s film to Cuarón’s.

His last tweet about Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity spoke to the state of NASA and space exploration in real life, as opposed to in the world of fiction. It’s clear that he wants more people to be just as enthusiastic about space as science fiction movies such as Gravity, but when it comes down to it, it seems like people will gravitate towards fiction over reality most of the time.

It seems like Neil deGrasse Tyson got some flak on Twitter about his comments towards Gravity. While the astrophysicist had his problems with the film’s world building, he finally tweeted his opinion on the space film. Despite a few nitpicks, apparently Tyson really liked the movie.

It appears that a majority of the country liked Alfonso Cuarón’s latest film because it broke a number of box office records over the weekend. The film grossed $55.5 million over the span of the three-day weekend, which is now the highest-grossing movie released in the month of October. It is also the highest-grossing film for both Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, dethroning The Heat and Batman and Robin, respectively. While Gravity defied expectations, Cuarón’s highest-grossing opening weekend remains Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which pulled in $93.6 million in 2004.


  1. Todd Crawford says:

    all good.

  2. Dominic Draper says:

    It’s the difficult question of when a director goes to such lengths to create a lifelike world for their film do you: a) forgive the slight transgressions of storytelling over reality or b) expect the story to succumb to the limitations of reality.
    I, for one, believe that an enjoyable experience is more important than an accurate one… the vast majority of people who will see Gravity will not actually go to space (just as fans of transformers will never own a car that turns into a robot – sorry to dash your dreams) so does it really matter if there are slight scientific errors?

    • Stan says:

      Except some of those errors are not that slight,such as the the relative space station positions and the orbital directions Tyson pointed out.Those are huge errors and as we are now finding out were done on purpose,when they could have been done correctly and given the same heightened suspense,action,thrills ,etc , to the audience.
      Suspension of disbelief has it’s limits,especialy when you are presenting a film touted as being authentic and realistic.

      • Dominic Draper says:

        You misunderstand what I mean by slight… The vast majority of people could not locate the international space station within the night sky. Therefore its effect on the audience is slight – few people will be affected by the change, so is its accuracy important…
        I’m not saying it is or it isn’t, I just think it is a valid question – where is the line of acceptability?

        • Stan says:

          no,i understand your point,your original post was a good one and clear, and ignorance is bliss for some.However, many of us do know the difference and my point is that it doesn’t take any more effort to present facts as they really are (and probably alot easier and cheaper) than rearranging reality and those who don’t know the difference wouldn’t be any less excited by the film.
          My point of view on this goes far beyond this one film.I see a fundamental problem with how sci-fi is treated in movies and TV.I ‘m tired of sloppy writing,plot holes you can drive a truck through ,and an attitude that it doesn’t matter how you do it because it’s just Sci-fi.There are of course writers and film makers who do it right but they seem to be in the minority..

          So , I have to say I do think there should be a standard of acceptabilty and a pretty high one.I did like this film but it could have been much more

          • Dominic Draper says:

            Plot holes are tiring. I fear though, that inaccuracy is not just endemic to Sci-Fi. Historical films are just as bad for it. I can understand to an extent films set in the middle ages being anachronistic or liberal with their depictions, but even films depicting recent events can be decidedly sloppy.

  3. skeets11 says:

    I understand Dr. Tyson’s need to point out inaccuracies. I served in the U.S. Army infantry for several years and am a military history buff. I hate seeing technical errors movies, but even worse in documentaries. That doesn’t mean they cannot be enjoyed for what they are, but if a person is going to go to huge time and expense to create something like gravity than at least make sure space junk is orbiting in the proper. direction.

    • Stan says:

      I agree, many in my generation, grew up with an high interest in science and were attracted to reading sci-fi.A good story can be ruined when the mistakes start to pile up one after another,even worse when you realize that they can easily be corrected.

  4. Chris says:

    Guess what? It’s a movie! FFS people… it’s make believe. If you want reality, go outside.

    • skeets11 says:

      It has nothing to do with reality vs movie theatrics its about making a science fiction film as believable as possible. If a movie is unbelievable nobody will bother to see it.

  5. Stan says:

    I saw “Gravity” yesterday and I enjoyed it on a whole but Tyson is right to nitpick. Sci-fi in films and TV needs more nitpicking .That’s not to say somethings can’t be stretched abit but atleast present them as being believable.

  6. Baker Smith says:

    Great Gravity Movie Parody!!!