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Science Bloopers (and Successes) from Battlestar Galactica

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At the awesome panel called "The Science Behind Science Fiction," Phil "Bad Astronomer" Plait was joined by Kevin Grazier, a rocket scientist and science adviser for Battlestar Galactica and Eureka. Grazier said that sometimes the actors on the shows are as rabid about getting the science right as he is: James "Baltar" Callas and Joe "Henry Deacon" Morton often do independent research to verify that the science on their respective shows is correct. Apparently Callas was particularly fascinated by whether "black body radiation" was represented accurately. Grazier also confessed to the greatest science blooper of his career — in BSG episode two, called "Water."

Grazier said that in "Water," there were "fundamental physics I brainfarted on." In that episode, a breach in Galactica caused water to blast out side of the ship. If he'd been scientifically accurate, that water would have pushed Galactica the other way, but he says, "I missed the physics and we had more drama. I'm sorry I was wrong it won't happen again."


But there was a scientific triumph for Grazier too. In season three, in the episode "Day in the Life," where Callie and Tyrol are blasted out of the airlock, through vacuum, and into a waiting Raptor. While a lot of fans complained that BSG's depiction of the event was incorrect, Grazier said in fact many scifi fans' minds had been poisoned by watching Outland and other crappy science in movies. "They wouldn't have exploded or been frozen," he said. "Yes, they would have frozen eventually, but not in the few seconds they were in vacuum." He also noted that they did show Tyrol getting the bends, which was realistic, and Callie had to be in a hyperbaric chamber. "I was proud that we got that right," he added. And fixed a lot of people's misconceptions about vacuum in the process.

One more little tidbit from Grazier had to do with cylon downloading. An audience member asked if there were any rules for cylon downloading. Grazier said there are a few, and that he doesn't see the downloading process as a cylon's entire personality being broadcast at death. "I see it as a live update every day," he explained. So the cylons are downloading daily, and when they die they can use what they've already got backed up. But another panelist issued a warning: "I've been trying to BitTorrent Tricia Helfer and it didn't work."