So, by now, we’ve all seen Star Trek Into Darkness. Some of us loved it, some of us hated it, some of us said, “meh.” But, forget about what you thought of the movie for a second. What did you think of the science? Let&...
So, by now, we’ve all seen Star Trek Into Darkness. Some of us loved it, some of us hated it, some of us said, “meh.” But, forget about what you thought of the movie for a second. What did you think of the science? Let’s take a more in depth look at some of the most sciencey moments from STID. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways, that this review contains SPOILERS!!!
[WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD]
Into the Volcano
The Nibiru volcano scene was revealed in the IMAX preview of STID last December. We basically saw the entire scene back then, but there are a few points that I didn’t catch the first time around that I’ll touch on here.
Spock takes a stroll in the Nibiru volcano
The look and feel of the volcano is pretty spot on
For the most part, they get this part right. Speaking as a volcanologist who loves to nitpick geology scenes in movies, there is not much for me to gripe about in Into Darkness. Of course, the visual artists did dramatize the scene a bit, but for everything they got wrong there’s another detail they got right.
What was wrong visually? I can tell you from experience that the inside of an active volcano doesn’t look quite like what we saw in STID. The biggest flaw? Flames. Too much fire and brimstone. Yes, volcanoes produce hot steam, ash, and magma, but what’s depicted in STID looks more like a forest fire — embers and flames swirling around Spock. Again, this is a somewhat minor point, so it’s forgivable.
The visual details that are spot on. The geologist in me was giggling with joy when she saw Spock standing atop real lava! The ropey, black rock beneath Spock’s feet is really something that came out of a volcano: a type of lava rock called Pahoehoe. And, if one was to flash freeze molten volcanic rock as Spock’s “cold fusion device” did, it’d look a lot like what we saw on screen: jet black volcanic glass. The best part of the volcano, though, was the bubble burst. A gigantic bubble of gas rose through the lava lake and formed a huge dome of lava that loomed far above Spock’s head. The pressure built up inside the bubble until it burst open, sending bits of molten rock flying in one large catastrophic explosion. That is EXACTLY what happens in real lava lakes.
Spock in a seriously cool looking volcano
BONUS: Fumaroles on a nearby planetoid! Recall the scene where Carol Marcus and Bones shuttle down to a nearby planetoid to have a go at diffusing of the mysterious photon torpedoes. What you probably didn’t realize was that this was a “volcanic” scene, too! My eyes immediately jumped to the flat plain of lava rock (scoria, a type of basaltic volcanic rock) where Carol and Bones were fiddling with the torpedo. In the background was a beautifully rendered fumarole – a crack in the ground where volcanic gasses escape into the atmosphere. The look and feel of the scene was completely scientifically realistic. What’s even better is that it felt like a barren, vast, wasteland. No vegetation, no animal life. This made it really feel like some small volcanic moon or “planetoid”. I’ll go out on a limb here and say this is in my opinion the most realistic looking planetary body I’ve ever seen in a movie. Props to the visual artists! Below is a couple of examples of real world locations reminiscent of the torpedo disarming scene in Into Darkness.
Volcanic plains resembling the torpedo disarming scene in Into Darkness
Verdict: The visuals were great. The volcano looked more realistic than any film I’ve seen, minus the swirling embers.
What a real volcano looks like
The science behind the volcano: Oh so close, but not quite right
We cannot take the heat, cap’n! Here’s where the volcano scene took a turn for the less believable. Both Sulu and Scotty suggest that the heat from the volcano is too much for the shuttle or the Enterprise
about 6 hours ago