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Movie Review: Let’s Separate the Real Science and the Sci-Fi Glitters in ‘The Martian’

by Felix Omondi

“The Martian,” that delightful romp through Martian dust storms and potato farming, manages to stay pretty true to science. But hey, it’s still Hollywood, so let’s laugh at the accuracy and the little fibs they told to keep us entertained.

The Real Science “The Martian” Got Right

Mars Environment:

Atmosphere and Climate: Okay, so Mars is pretty much like Antarctica but red and with a much thinner atmosphere. The movie nails this, showing us a frigid, dusty planet. Hats off for making Mars look as inviting as a beach in winter!

Gravity: Mars’ gravity is about 38% of Earth’s, meaning the average John Doe could theoretically dunk a basketball like a pro. The film hints at this, though we’re spared scenes of Watney attempting zero-gravity gymnastics.

The Hab (Martian Mansion):

Life Support Systems: Watney’s life support systems are based on real tech, making oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. NASA could totally get behind this part, cheering, “Yep, we’re working on that!”

Water Reclamation: Watney’s water wizardry, reclaiming water from various sources, is spot on. This isn’t just survival; it’s practically a Bear Grylls episode on Mars.

Martian Farming:

Potato Farming: Who knew the humble potato could be a Martian hero? Watney’s spud farm, fertilized with his own waste, is not just plausible but a masterclass in recycling. Potato, potahto, let’s call the whole thing ingenious.

Resource Magic:

Hydrazine Reaction: Extracting hydrogen from hydrazine and burning it to make water is chemically legit. Dangerous as juggling flaming chainsaws, but legit.

Communication (Dial-up Speed, Martian Style):

Pathfinder Rover: Using an old rover to phone home? Brilliant and totally feasible. It’s like finding your granddad’s old ham radio and using it to send texts.

Space Acrobatics:

Rescue Mission: The rescue maneuvers, complete with gravity assists and course corrections, follow real orbital mechanics principles. NASA probably watched this part like it was a thrilling sports match.

The Sci-Fi Glitters where “The Martian” Stretched the Truth

Martian Storms:

Intensity: The movie kicks off with a storm that could blow Dorothy all the way to Oz. Reality check: Mars’ thin atmosphere couldn’t muster up a breeze strong enough to mess up your hair, let alone knock over a spaceship.

Dust and Radiation:

Health Effects: Mars dust and cosmic radiation are more sinister than the movie lets on. Long-term exposure would be like living in a tanning bed with a fan blowing grit in your face. The film’s take? Eh, just another day at the office.

Human Factors:

Psychological Strain: Watney’s upbeat demeanor is endearing, but let’s be real: being stranded alone on Mars would drive most of us to start talking to volleyballs. The movie skips over the potential Martian madness.

Rocket Launch and Ascent:

Simplicity: The DIY rocket modifications? Yeah, not so simple. Real-life Martian launches would be more complex than assembling IKEA furniture without instructions.

Our Verdict

“The Martian” strikes a great balance between scientific accuracy and entertainment. It captures the essence of Martian survival while slipping in a few Hollywood exaggerations. So, while it might stretch the truth about Martian storms and psychological strain, it still offers a fairly realistic glimpse of life on the Red Planet. And let’s be honest, watching Watney grow spuds in space dirt and MacGyver his way through crises is worth a little scientific leniency.

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