FANDOM


WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
Sci-fi writers have no sense of mass or size.


Anime and Manga

  • Ah, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. In a rare example from the show that can't be chalked up to Rule of Cool, in the last episode, the titular mecha ejects its smaller forms at the enemy when it is restrained. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is the size of a galaxy. Chouginga Gurren Lagann is the size of the moon. They appear in the same frame. The fact that this happens should make anybody with a passing knowledge of astronomy angry. Either the Gurren Lagann Universe has small galaxies or its planets are somehow resistant to turning into black holes.
    • Not to mention the Great Zamboa (the antagonist's galaxy-sized mech) having a planet stuck in its forehead.
    • Most people seem to miss out that every single attack that the galaxy mechs throw had to go faster than light speed, or else the fight would have either lasted years or fought completely blind.
    • Plus, galaxies are mostly empty space, like atoms; but unlike atoms, they have no strong repulsive forces surrounding them. The humongous mechs run around on a big galaxy and throw smaller galaxies at each other, which is like a pair of speeding freight trains on gaseous tracks throwing clouds of gnats at each other.
    • Logic was violently thrown out the window with a artillery cannon the minute they arrived in the Anti-Spiral pocket dimension. The Chouginga Gurren Lagann was shown to have transformed from a ship roughly the size of the moon, but entire planets could be chucked at it and would bounce off like beachballs (both in form and in size). The show itself lampshades how little of a donkey's rum they give about any sort of logic at that point, casually saying that the mech's shields were somehow able to deflect 100% of all damage yet still be under heavy assault from planets being flung into it, all because the Anti-spirals somehow messed around with probability.
  • The Gundam franchise has hundreds of examples of this. Most notably, the Mobile Suits are mostly made of a variation of titanium, yet they have the same density as the human body. (The original RX-78-2 Gundam is 18 meters tall and has a mass of 60 tons. In accordance with the square-cube law, it's 10 times taller and 1000 times heavier than a 1.8 meter tall human weighing 60 kilograms, which means it has the same density.)
    • Another example is the vulcan-machineguns most Gundam-types have. Most of them (the Gundam Ground-Type being most notable) actually have realistic sizes for their vulcans, but others, such as the Gundam Mk.II are just plain absurd. They can't expect us to believe the Gundam Mk.II has two 60mm Machineguns installed in its head. A few other Gundam-types go even further, by having 200mm vulcans in its head. That's right. Head-mounted machineguns bigger than the machineguns carried by a Zaku II.


Comicbooks

  • This is fairly common in Marvel Comics. Marvel measures its characters' Super Strength based on how many tons they can lift. The problem is most people at Marvel apparently don't know how many tons a given object weighs or how much space a set number of tons of a given material will take up. Even more confusingly, Marvel's strength tiers tend to end at 100+ tons, meaning 100 tons and any number above that.
    • One image from Marvel Team-Up was fairly infamous in its time, even receiving a massive splash page and a really long apology from the editors in their 'No-Prize' one-shot dedicated to pointing out their own errors that readers caught. The image? Hercules, of the Avengers, towing the Island of Manhattan through the Atlantic, bringing it back into the Harbor, by means of a gigantic chain wound about himself - thus not only stating that Hercules is capable of pulling Manhattan, BUT ALSO that Manhattan floats. Oh, if this wasn't ridiculous enough, he's pulling it back the wrong way around, so that Uptown is now Downtown and the Battery is the northmost point of the island. This happened.
      • Eventually, that particular story was stated to be simply one of Herc's tall tales (the Marvel version has always been fond of them).
    • Planet Hulk featured The Hulk shifting entire continental plates.

Films -- Live-Action

  • In Independence Day, the mothership is stated to be "over 550 kilometers across, and in terms of mass it's a quarter the size of the moon." Later images of the mothership showed it to be hemispherical. A 550 km diameter hemisphere, with 1/4 the mass of Earth's moon, would have an average density of 1687 grams per cubic centimeter. That's nearly 150 times the density of solid lead.
    • Not to mention such a mass in close orbit around the earth would create massive earthquakes, storms and other weather phenomena.
    • Interior shots of the mothership showed it to contain mostly empty space. This means the actual density of its structural materials must be much, much higher. The mothership must be made out of white dwarf matter or neutron star matter.
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, they had to warp the ship around the sun, and relating the scale of ship and the sun, the sun would be only smallish world sized!
  • The narration in Waterworld begins with: "The polar ice caps have melted, covering the Earth with water." Even if the entire arctic ice cap, and the ridiculously huge antarctic ice cap, were to completely melt, the extra water would only cause the sea level to rise some 200 meters. That's more than enough to flood all existing coastal regions, but it wouldn't begin to cover even the shortest mountain range, let alone bring the ocean to within a few meters of the top of Everest as shown at the end.


Literature

  • In Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, the planet Trantor is stated to have a surface area of 75 million square miles, and a population "in excess of forty billions". That puts the population density somewhere between 533 and 666 people per square mile. This is LESS than the average suburb, yet Trantor is described as being a teeming planet-wide city.
    • Science Marches On?
    • The average suburb is not self-contained. If you add in all the businesses, workplaces, industry, transportation and other infrastructures required to do that... it will start to feel rather more crowded.
      • Asimov also indicated that the structure of Trantor extended more than a mile underground and up to several hundred stories above ground. Taking into account the additional area therefore available, which may be a few hundred times the land area, the problem with Trantor isn't overcrowding, it's finding someone else to talk to face to face.
  • Despite containing one of the vanishingly rare aversions of distance and speed issues in military sci-fi, David Weber's Honor Harrington did suffer "The Great Resizing" as a result of the author forgetting the square-cube law while assigning the lengths and masses of his setting's starships. When the people trying to create a gaming spinoff crunched the numbers, they realized his smallest ships were about right, but the mightiest warships were "not quite as dense as cigar smoke!"
    • Since the text makes only rare references to length, and very commonly notes mass as a determinant of acceleration, the author retconned in a new and much shorter length that delivered reasonable density.
  • Weber does it also in his story Mutineer's Moon and sequels, in which the starting premise is that the Moon (i.e. Luna, Earth's natural satellite, that Moon) is actually a starship. Yes, the whole thing. It has a layer of rock around the outer hull carefully sculpted to match the surface appearance of the original Moon that once orbited the Earth, tens of thousands of years ago, before the starship removed it and took its place. Incidentally, the entire human population of the Earth in these books descend from the human crew of that starship.
    • At no point does Weber write the ship as if it was 2,000 miles in diameter, though, nor is it ever seriously explained why it needs to be that big. He writes the starship as if it were a few miles in diameter.
    • The book does state that the type of FTL engine used and the reactor to power it (as well as the Hyperspace Radio) all reached optimum efficiency only when scaled up to planetoid dimensions. To give you an idea of just how much power their reactors put out, it took only six Battle Planetoids working together to force a star to go supernova.
    • Given the information presented in the books it's entirely possible that the living areas of the ship are only a few miles across with the majority of the ship being dedicated to weapons/propulsion/power systems etc. Of course it still seems unlikely that such a large unit is really worth the resources (especially when it's demonstrated that smaller war ships can be FTL capable).
    • All There in the Manual Dahak and the other planetoid sized ships were built in order to defend against the next genocidal attack by the Achuultani, so they'd want them big, not only so they could stuff in as many weapons as possible, but to take a pounding as well. Given that ships like Dahak were intended to be deployed on picket duty for years, if not decades, they built the crew quarters with comfort in mind. You also need to take into account the hangar decks for the sublight ships. The volume isn't really wasted, and it turns out to even have something of a psychological effect; the aliens are terrified by the sheer size of the planetoids.
  • Larry Niven's Ring World takes the common misconception about the Dyson Sphere (see below) to a more 'practical' level. Why build an entire sphere around a star when a single continuous strip could house more life than could possibly fill it? But the example of this trope comes more into play with The Ringworld Engineers, which was written after Niven attended a convention where several college students were roaming the halls chanting "The Ringworld is unstable". Niven did the math and, nerds being nerds, discovered they were right. The Ringworld is indeed unstable, so he added some jets to allow it to maintain its position.
    • Of course, Ringworld starts off with the Puppeteers fleeing the galaxy, dragging the five planets of their home system with them, which has its own host of Sense Of Scale problems (But come on, they're towing planets. How is that not awesome?)
    • The whole of Known Space is a region of around 30-60 lightyears in diameter, depending on time. The Ringworld and the Fleet of Planets are both far outside this, and the Fleet is moving along at a steady clip of .8c. The Puppeteers are long-term planners who are perfectly willing to move thousands of years in order to be safe.
    • Iain Banks has an even more practical variant in his "orbitals" - ring-shaped worlds that are only five million kilometres across and in a conventional orbit about their star. The size is chosen so that one revolution per standard day evokes one standard gravity of centrifugal force. In Consider Phlebas there is passing mention of Spheres and Rings, but by later novels they seem much less popular (probably because having decided to give the Culture's total population at ~18 trillion, it's immediately clear that even one such structure is unimaginably more than they could ever possibly need).
      • Matter is set on a "shellworld", effectively a planet-sized (and shaped) set of matryoshka dolls. The one in the book has 15 levels, coming to 11.8 billion square kilometers of space. Still only a tiny fraction the size of the Ringworld.
  • Also by Niven, in his Integral Trees setting: the so-called "integral trees" are plants in a free-fall environment typically between 50 and 100 kilometers long and 700 meters across. A small (few thousand people), fairly primitive (early Iron Age) society is harvesting these trees for lumber at an implied rate of one or two a year. Thing is, a single tree will yield about eight trillion board-feet of lumber, or about a century's output of the entire United States lumber industry.
    • The limiting factor isn't the wood available. It's the food and water. The Smoke Ring being what it is, the people need to move fairly frequently to avoid starvation or thirst, and the more advanced societies don't move at all.
  • Stephen Baxter's Ring features an artificial ring the size of a galaxy spinning at something close to the speed of light, with the idea its sheer mass would rip open a hole to another universe. The enemies of the ring-creators are peeved at this and hurl entire galaxies at the ring (including ours, but it's okay as we won't get there for several tens of billion years) in an attempt to destroy it, to no avail. The plausibility of such an object's size and the ability to build it without either exhausting all matter in the universe or getting it finished before the end of time may depend on the reader's suspension of disbelief.
    • To be fair, the ring-creators came into existence a couple seconds after the universe did, are born in black holes, have utterly ridiculous technology, and have a stable time-loop existence so that as soon as they came into existence, they were at their technological peak. They've had plenty of time.
      • And for all that, it sort of is the end of time (still-burning stars are starting to become scarce) before it all comes to fruition.
    • Much worse is Orion Rock in Exultant, an asteroid said to be travelling a thousand years before reaching the black hole in the center of the galaxy. That's all fine and well, until a protagonist standing on it gets to see molecular clouds disappearing upon reaching the rock's destination. That means that the cloud is several orders of magnitude denser than any nebula ever known (probably around the density of water clouds), and that it has an impossibly crisp edge (going from that insane density to zero in only a few hundred kilometers tops).
  • Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern: If we go by the measurement system provided by the books and supplemental materials, the Queen Dragon Ramoth at 45 meters from nose to tail would be only slightly smaller than the Lockheed Tristar, a passenger jet capable of holding around 250 passengers (which is used as the example in the supplemental books), making her the largest animal ever, and the other dragons are no slouches either. Bronze dragons which are the only ones "allowed" to mate with the golds range from 30 to 42 meters in length. And all of these dragons only get one Rider. There's a reason why the fan roleplaying communities tend to believe that "meter" is a mistake and use the foot instead, making Ramoth only slightly larger than the Tyrannosaurus rex, which was not the largest animal ever on Earth, which makes it a hell of a lot easier on an environment by not having several hundred carnivores exceeding 100 feet in length devouring what are essentially Earth cows.
    • And then there's the Hand Wave that a dragon weighs only as much as it wants to and can carry as much as it wants to being a result of their telekinetic powers which only get discovered in one of the last books chronologically.
  • Andre Norton describes the Free Trader ship Solar Queen as both "small" and "needle-slim." It's also clearly a rocket shape. But when she explains the accommodations on a single deck within that "small" hull, it's clear that to have "needle-slim" proportions at that size, it'd need to be about the height of a Saturn V.
  • Ship sizes in Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy series can be a little off, at least as described on his website. From 20-meter one-man Space Fighters to 7-kilometer flagship cruisers, crewed by 150 people. While the author tries to explain it by having most systems be automated (in fact, entire ships can run without crews, using only AIs), this does not explain why the ships have to be so ridiculously big. Interestingly, one novel specifically mentions a heavy cruiser (about 5 km in length) with a crew of 2000. However, even that is an extremely-low number of people to run a ship this size. For reference, a Real Life Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier will be about 333 meters in length and have a crew of 4660. This is not even to mention the stress of trying to maneuver a 7-kilometer beast in battle. The only thing the author got right is that any ship larger than 500 meters is unable to enter planetary atmosphere without assistance from technical carriers (i.e. tugs). Even corvettes, which are 500 meters long, come equipped with additional planetary engines to allow them to survive re-entry.
  • Another example showing how you can screw up sizes without going into space comes from Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar. One scene has a lidi running in terror when pursued by two hyaenodons. The hyaenodons are described as being as large as ponies. The lidi is a sauropod dinosaur, 80-100 feet long. This is the equivalent of a pair of rats chasing a horse, or a pair of foxes chasing an elephant (this is one of many instances where Burroughs shows his total lack of understanding of animals).
  • A Song of Ice and Fire author George R. R. Martin was confronted with a failure of his own sense of size when he was shown the videogame adaption of his book and noted that the great wall guarding the north was huge. On being told that it had been scaled precisely to his description in the books, he replied "I wrote it too big!"


Live-Action TV

  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Galileo Seven" in which Spock and a small crew were lost in a shuttlecraft while the Enterprise studied "quasar-like phenomena." The image on the main screen was clearly of an artist's rendition of a quasar. Today, we know that a quasar is the supermassive black hole at the center of a very young galaxy, spewing enormous amounts of energy as material falls into it. The implications are either of a galaxy-like phenomenon within a galaxy (?!), or that the Enterprise was at the far reaches of the universe studying a quasar with a very, very small number of worlds therein.
    • No-one knew for sure that a quasar is a galaxy until the 1980s, and they don't look like one without additional information that wasn't available when the episode was made. This is more a case of Science Marches On.
      • Which makes its use as a wormhole of sorts in the Wing Commander film especially ridiculous.
      • Even at the time the episode was made, we knew that quasars had enormous redshift, implying that they were extremely distant phenomena (as in billions of light-years away, far far outside our own galactic supercluster).
    • Hilariously, the remastered version added stumpy little relativistic jets and an accretion disc.
      • How is that unrealistic? Those features would also be found around a small (star-mass) black hole.
      • Which could make this Fridge Brilliance, as studying a star-mass black hole that emits energy like a true quasar would be the best way for the Federation (which lacks intergalactic travel) to learn about the full-size versions.
    • The episode "The Corbomite Maneuver" has the Enterprise encounter a mysterious cube, which Sulu says is 107 metres on each side and masses just under 11,000 metric tonnes. Scotty says it must be solid metal, leaving him wondering how it could be powered and how it moves around. But the quoted measurements give a density of about 9 kilograms per cubic metre, significantly less than styrofoam - implying the cube is almost certainly hollow (they may have been aiming for 9 tonnes per cubic metre, which is between the densities of iron and lead, and dropped a factor of a thousand somewhere).
  • In at least one episode of The Next Generation turning off life support for five minutes was enough to exhaust the entire oxygen supply of the ship. Considering the absurdly spacious rooms, they should have lasted quite a while longer.
  • In the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise they introduce the Delphic Expanse, a mysterious region full of Negative Space Wedgies and other assorted mysterious phenomenon that is visually distinct from normal space and impossible to see into (or through). Humans have no idea it exists. It's described as 2000 light years across, and it takes the Enterprise about three months to get there at high speed. This works out to about 60 light years. Something 2000 light years across 60 light years away would cover half the sky. Thus leading to the conclusion that human astronomers in the Star Trek universe are remarkably unobservant for failing to have noticed it.
  • Used intentionally and cranked up to 11 via the Rule of Funny in Psych, where detective Shawn Spencer has to pretend to be the guide doing a laser light presentation at an observatory, but quickly makes it painfully obvious he knows nothing about space.

 Shawn: There are almost 4... hundred stars, in our galaxy. Maybe more. No one knows for sure. Some say that the Milky Way may be larger than the Indian Ocean. Ah, and here are our constellations. Here's one of a fish...and here's one of a guy, holding........ some sort of a thing?

Janitor: (whispering) You're supposed to name them!

Shawn: And here is Monkey with Rash. The Egyptians used to set their clocks by it. And here is the Hammer of Jeff.

Toys

  • While the writer states Earth physics don't mean a thing in Bionicle, scale issues come up frequently. There's Mata Nui for instance, a circa 40 million feet high robot with a whole ecosystem inside him, who was build under a fairly short time, standing tall on the surface of his planet, in secret. His prototype, which was two thirds his size, blew up shortly before his construction, and none of the planet's inhabitants seemed to have grown suspicious of the mountain-sized robot parts that rained around them, all over the planet. Then, when these two bodies fought a 100.000 years later, it was explicitly stated that the other, normal-sized characters simply ran around under their feet, crossing distances of thousands of miles within minutes. In the Mata Nui Saga, this scale issue had been taken into consideration, but they simply decided that the Saga's illustrations should depict both the giant robots and the human-sized characters within the same image. Otherwise, we would have only seen either the giant mechanoids duking it out alone, or the armies of the "regulars" clashing in front of a gray backdrop.
    • Another example: the Mata Nui robot's mission, according to his hastily written backstory, was to study other civilizations and learn how to prevent wars. He did so by approaching a populated planet, lying down into an ocean, and covering his face with an artificial island. After thousands of years, he would rise up and continue his journey through space. Disregarding the fact that his massive chest would probably still have protruded through the water, just how does a robot as tall as Earth is wide lie in a body of water without anyone noticing, without raising water levels, or without simply having any effect on the planet itself? The Mata Nui Saga took a more reasonable route and depicted Mata Nui gathering information from civilizations through his special powers, while staying clear of any planet.
    • The most obvious problem is the various "maps" you can see of the various "Nui" islands within Mata Nui. They're arranged in such a way that it looks plausable as being contained inside a humanoid, but unless massive scaling is in order there's no possible way these would fit in the body we saw, especially with the scale. To say nothing of the character's journeys.


Tabletop Games

  • In the Wild Talents 2nd Edition superhero setting, one of the suggested campaign seeds is being part of an exploration team for a defunct alien "world-ship" that has moved into the solar system. The campaign text says, explicitly, "Every square inch of the 'ship', 6,123 miles in diameter, was to be searched under the express orders of Joint Space Command." This is a volume of over four billion trillion cubic meters they are talking about here. If the entire population of the planet Earth, all six billion people, were used for a search team, each person would still have to search over 660 billion cubic meters. Hope they packed a lunch!
    • ...or just had a Talent specializing in investigation onboard, who could probably do so in a few minutes. This is a setting where teleporters routinely send space installations to Mars, gadgeteers mass-produce giant robots, and the World Ship and its inhabitants were possibly subconsciously wished into being by a suicidally despondent Talent, searching a ship that size in a timely matter isn't that unlikely.
    • In the Progenitor setting for Wild Talents, the first superhuman was infused with 1% of the universe's Dark Matter energy. While obscenely powerful by supers game standards, her powers aren't anywhere near, say, Gurren Lagann level crazy, much less Bronze Age Superman crazy.
  • In BattleTech, a large Dropship weighs ten thousand tons, and is protected by 30 tons of armor. Considering it's basically a hundred meter sphere, it comes to the ship being about fifteen times as dense as air, and the armor being literally paper thin.


Videogames

  • Super Mario Galaxy is very confused as to what constitutes a planet or a galaxy. For example: the smallest "planets" are maybe thirty feet in all directions, and the biggest are smaller than the Earth's moon. Meanwhile, "galaxies" are simply clusters of these "planets" or sometimes just one relatively big "planet," with no stars to speak of. Unless you count the abundant tiny black holes. It can be chalked up to Rule of Fun, though, the setting running on cartoon physics.
    • Though the actual reason is that in Japanese, the same word is used to refer to planets, asteroids, galaxies, etc., the real confusion being why that was kept in the translation.
      • Probably to keep with the natural progression of things. Super Mario Land, Super Mario World, Galaxy was the next logical step.
  • The weapons in Deus Ex are ridiculously heavy. The Dragon's Tooth Sword, for instance, weighs about 20 pounds. For the uninitiated, a normal katana weighs about 3.8 pounds. In addition, the pistol is 10 pounds in weight and the wrist-mounted mini-crossbow is 15 pounds.
  • Homeworld is ridiculously bad about ship weight. Most ships' weights in "tons" correspond to them being lighter-than-air craft. I guess that would make getting 'em into space pretty easy, though.
  • Halo is just as bad: while the games give no numbers, the novels cite insanely light weights for ships. The 480'ish meter long titanium armored frigate for instance is given a loaded mass of just 4,000 tons. Some rough math says that this results in a ship that's not quite lighter then air, which is about 1.2 kilos per cubic meter, but seeing as the frigate works out to something like 1.8 kilos per cubic meter it's damn close. It gets even more insane when we consider that the ship is supposed to be armed with a main gun that fires 600 ton slugs.
    • More fun! Doing the math from Halopedia, which gets info from the novels, the Orbital Defense Platforms fire 3,000 ton slugs at 60% light speed. This results in a projectile that has 11.62 teratons of kinetic energy. That's 11,620,000,000 kilotons. For reference, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima had an energy yield of 15 kilotons or so, which makes that one slug over 774 million times as strong. For more realization of how ridiculous this number is, take the total energy consumption of the United States in 2005. Each one of these slugs, fired once every five seconds, contains about 467 times that amount.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire is surprisingly good about this, although planets appear only a few times smaller than some suns. The ships are comparitively massive compared to fighters, which are so tiny they have to have markers pointing out entire wings of them if you zoom out enough to view just one capital ship.
  • Pokémon sucks with Pokémon weights. A Wailord weighs a paltry 398 kg, despite being 14.5 m long. For comparison, a sperm whale can be 12 to 18 m long, and weighs more than 20,000 kg.
    • This one's a sneaky one. Yes, Wailord is partially based off of a whale . . . but it's also partially based off of a blimp.
      • Blimps fly, they're lighter than air, so a whole lot lighter than water; Wailord sinks. If it is 14.5m long, it should be about 0.2m 'thick' maximum, or it wouldn't be able to sink. Its image shows us it's rather spherical.
  • EVE Online is a major offender in the density department, with ships supposedly armed with Railguns averaging the density of Styrofoam[1].
    • Also, when looking at the description of a gate, its stated mass is "5e+35 kg." For comparison, Sol's mass is approximately 1.989e+30 kg, making gates over 250,000 times as massive as the Sun itself. Of course, they also create and maintain stable wormholes between two star systems. Maybe the sensors can't really determine the actual mass (which has to be relatively low, since they were carried to their positions using STL ships).
    • And then we shouldn't forget to mention the beacons scattered throughout the universe. They weigh 1kg, and have a volume of 1 cubic meter. Which is actually an acceptable size, but coupled with their low weight, they have a density lower than air! Seriously. Atmospheric air has a density of 1.2kg/m3. Interstellar Beacons have a density of 1kg/m3. That's 16.67% lighter than air. At least the chances of one of those crashing down on a planet is very small.
    • EVE just gets ridiculously jarring in this department at times. Especially with the asteroid belts. It's actually possible to sit in a belt between two asteroids that are big and dense enough to have their own gravity-wells in a ship with a density equal to something like Papier-Maché, and not be ripped apart by the two gravity-wells.
    • Titans have a density equal to that of aluminium, while Rifters have a density equal to that of solid gold. Who made up these numbers again?
  • Sword of the Stars: Destroyers, the smallest FTL-capable starships, are around 30 meters in length... Seriously? For reference, the Space Shuttle is 56.1m.
    • The assault shuttles are even smaller, at about 10 meters in length. And these are actually supposed to enter and exit the atmosphere (and don't look aerodynamic enough for that).
    • There is also the problem of a Zuul slave disk that is, maybe, 60 meters in diameter being able to hold 50 million people.
      • Or a colonizer destroyer section that can hold 30-200 million people (depending on species, humans can fit 50) before researching suspended animation.


Webcomics

  • In Homestuck, there are a couple examples. A fireball wrapping around the planet instead of simply blowing a hole in the crust, a star twice the size of the universe, yet when a character flies next to it they are nowhere near dwarfed by that sheer size; they also plan to blow it up with something the size of a building that can eradicate something comparable to a solar system, and a few others. It's justified perhaps, via Functional Magic.


Western Animation

  • In the various continuities of Transformers, various transformers could change their size and mass. To give you an idea on how much of a change they could make, you could pick up and carry around Soundwave and his assorted Casseticons. (The fact that they turn into a cassette player of some kind and its associated cassettes is another quandary.) Soundwave in his robot form is something like a 30-foot-tall heavily armed and armoured war machine.
    • Probably the worst example of this - worse even than Megatron and his gun transformation - was Reflector. Each one only slightly shorter than Soundwave, THREE robots (Spectro, Spyglass, and Viewfinder) managed to each form a different part of a camera that has been portrayed as small enough to fit into Thundercracker's hand.
    • On the other end of the scale is Unicron. He is a Transformer the size of a planet. And picks up another, normal size Transformer between his fingers and drops him in his mouth. To say nothing of the rest of the fight scenes against him.
    • The Transformers Wiki has an entire page dedicated to the wackiness of Transformer scale. Included is a diagram demonstrating, on the basis of his size relative to Unicron, that Galvatron must be approximately the same size as Great Britain.
    • The size of Cybertron itself varies a lot in Transformers lore. Considering its inhabitants tend to be about 30 feet tall, it could be assumed that the planet is fairly big, but in fact when it gets knocked into Earth orbit (which happens twice in the series) it appears to be about the size of our Moon. Considering that Cybertron is apparently too big for Unicron to consume in planet mode, this means that the actual number of planets Unicron can consume without ripping them apart with his bare hands (which in the case of a planet like Earth would take a long time) is fairly limited.
      • Cybertron in the Transformers film series, when shown in Earth's orbit, is actually much larger. Given that it appears to be entirely metallic in composition, it would also make it much more massive, even if its outer layers have many hollow areas.
    • Even more confusion: in the Armada anime series, Unicron is said to have been biding his time, disguising himsself as one of Cybertron's moons!
    • See here for more information.
  • On an episode of the 2003 series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the entire city of Beijing is lifted into the air with alien technology. A view of the floating hunk of rock (significantly thicker than the Earth's crust) looks like the view out an airplane's window, with farm patterns visible below. A scientist states that the city is floating 20 miles above the ground, yet the city is easily 100 times its own height above the ground.


Tropes


Other

  • Freeman Dyson's idea of the Dyson Sphere, a system of orbiting solar power satellites meant to completely surround a star and capture most or all of its energy output, when typically misrepresented by journalists and sci-fi writers as a solid shell completely enclosing its star. Hear that sound? Yeah, that's the collective groan of pretty much every engineer on the planet doing a coordinated Face Palm at the sheer impossibility of a solid structure of that magnitude keeping itself intact. Not to mention the issue of where the hell one would get enough material to build something that would outmass the entire solar system it's supposed to hold several times over. Dyson himself had a sense of scale, was fully aware of the impossibility of a solid shell and had in mind "a loose collection or swarm of objects travelling on independent orbits around the star."
    • Cricket magazine had an even worse example in one of their stories. Not only was there a solid Dyson sphere, but "a small strip around the equator was far enough away to support life."
    • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Relics" featured a Dyson sphere with land, water and a sustained atmosphere (judging from all the green) on the entire inside surface. Despite the fact that the surface had open doors.
      • Even if you could build a solid Dyson sphere, nothing would "stick" to the inside surface, because there is no gravity gradient inside a hollow sphere. Nor would the sun have any particular reason to stay at the center of the sphere.[2]
      • To compound their sins even worse, there is a visible curvature to the surface of the sphere as the Enterprise passes through the door -- on a sphere with about a 100 million km radius.[3]
      • To their credit the episode does say the structure is impossible. Or should be since it does in fact exist in their reality.
    • Receives a Lampshade in Schlock Mercenary, where aliens who habitually make Dyson spheres of a canvas-like material kept inflated by light pressure from the enclosed star[4] have a name that translates to "This was expensive to build."
    • In the Star Trek novel Inferno (book three of the Millennium trilogy) O'Brien is trapped in a Pah-wraith hell featuring a solid-shell Dyson sphere. The sheer impossibility of the thing slowly but surely drives him insane. Of course, being an illusion the whole time, it gets a pass on any sort of physical possibility.
  • The vast majority of giantess fap fics will have the girl end up at something like 1000 feet tall. That's more than a third the size of the world's tallest building.
  • For years, the assumption among paleontologists was that Quetzalcoatlus, a pterosaur with a thirty-foot wingspan, long limbs, and a long neck to match, weighed less than a hundred kilograms, or not a whole lot more than a human. This is how big they were. It's not at all implausible that something much heavier than the original estimate can fly, and then we can have had animals tall enough to look giraffes in the eye without having their interiors be blimps.
    • Part of the problem was that until Mark Witton started doing images such as the one linked to, most recreations of pterosaurs didn't have them in context with anything humans could instinctively relate to. Seeing that image and one suddenly realizes the 100kg (220lb) estimate is completely absurd.

Return to main.

Notes

  1. Roughly 30 Kg per cubic meter.
  2. Though, Star Trek does take place in a setting with cheap artificial gravity.
  3. That's about 2/3 the Earth's orbital radius; apparently it surrounds a smaller and weaker star.
  4. still pretty significant work structurally, but not beyond that universe's tech base
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.