Saturday, September 29, 2007

The loss of innocence

I loved MacGyver as a kid. Maybe one of the biggest reasons I became a physicist. So after CK showed the clip in his top Friday I felt nostalgic and watched an episode. Alas on watching it I noted it was factually incorrect. This scene is from the pilot. Note it was mentioned that the laser was a 10,000 watt CO2 laser. So can you spot what is with it.

Alas two things wrong with that. 1. CO2 lasers are in the far infra-red so he couldn't have seen it with smoke. Unless it brunt the smoke molecules ionising them which is possible but not what I say they were thinking of. 2. But worst of all the prism in the Binoculars if 10,000 watt laser light shined on it would probably melt. Mirrors or not 100% reflective they are around 98% (considering the Laser is in the infra-red and the binoculars built for the visible this would be even less) that means that 2% of the laser is absorbed by the mirror. No a normal mirror will be damaged with a 200 watt laser at its designed wavelength. So imagine a laser 50 times more powerful laser at a non-designed wavelength. The mirror would probably have a hole in it very quickly.

Still great stuff just when I was a kid I enjoyed it for its coolness, now I enjoy it for pointing out errors.

1 comment:

Tuathal said...

I was similarly disappointed when I recently watched an epsidoe of Macgyver, one of my favourite shows as a kid.

However it was not the scientific accuracy that upset me, rather how god-awful it is as a show.

As i watched I couldn't believe this was the same show I had watched religiously all those years ago.

Sometimes its better not to look back.