Could the science of “don’t look” be true? (We investigated it)

The hypotheses behind No Mires Arriba are entirely real, as the explanation of the astronomer who helped with the narration suggests.

The disastrous story has been repeated in science fiction over and over again. From literary works to film productions, they explore the idea that the planet will one day face a catastrophe that will culminate in the destruction of humanity. And while the stories usually shine on their own, the real gem lies in the reaction of the audience who decides to put themselves before the narrative in different ways. Adam McKay unleashed catastrophic sarcasm among his movie-goers new movie not looking, Well, many are wondering how it can be realScience gives us an explanation to better understand it.

Astronomy doctoral student Kate Dipasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers a comet hurtling toward Earth. She and Professor Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) try to notify the world to avoid running out of the six months in which they estimate the collision occurred. However, President Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her Cabinet do not take the matter seriously, so they decide to publish the story in the media. With media pressure, the President of the United States finally decided to take action on the matter. But tech mogul Peter Escherwell thwarted his efforts to derail the comet, deciding that the comet contained very valuable resources.

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The Scientific Interpretation of “Don’t Look For”

Although it sounds more like a satire than a pure science story like other stories of interstellar stature, Don’t look up very solid scientific foundations. Adam McKay hasn’t made such a narrative journey without the protection of a science shelter, so what can be seen in the movie can happen in real life. To make sure of this, Mackay I worked closely with Dr. Amy Mainzer, a former senior researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who now teaches planetary science at the University of Arizona.

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Not surprisingly, the film’s chief scientific advisor is a specialist in comets and asteroids known as NEOs (Near-Earth Objects). Thus, NASA has identified all celestial bodies that are likely to come dangerously close to Earth. Indeed, JPL has its own section It is responsible for observing the sky to issue alerts if NEO approaches us.

In an interview, Mainzer gave an explanation about the possibilities of NEO collisions and how his research affected “Don’t Look For”. With this preamble confirm it A lot of what can be seen in the movie can happen in real life. Not only did the astronomer help chronicle the film’s production, but she also imbued herself in all of creation from costume design to science buildings.

Six months is enough for a catastrophic event

One of the issues that made the most noise in the public was the passage of time since Kate DiBasky discovered the comet, until it finally reached Earth. It has been suspected that an object that comes from deep space collides with our planet in a relatively short period of time. However, Mainzer herself has offered an explanation for why the no-look hypothesis above is actually very accurate.

comet with earth in the background

In an interview, he explained the reasons for choosing a long-time culprit to play the title role in No Mires Arriba. He said Such a comet is large enough and fast enough to realistically collide with Earth. As he put it, “Sometimes there can be a very short gap when we find one of these things until they come close to the Sun, because they are moving so fast […]. We found the object in late March and by early July, it was already getting close to the sun. So, in this case, Six months from detection to approach or impact is completely realistic for that kind of thing.”

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This is why the NEOs chosen for the movie were a comet, not an asteroid. Explanation is very simple Comets have long orbits, which means they move faster than asteroids. What’s more They are usually larger, so The Comet was the better choice to get into the movie’s narrative.

A comet depends on a real comet

In order to create the NEOs that ended up destroying Earth in the film, Mainzer took a real idea as inspiration; Comet Newes discovered in March 2020. Exactly on March 27 of that year, NASA’s Wide Range Infrared Explorer (hence its name) discovered a large comet. The telescope is named by the same name and is estimated to be about 5 kilometers in diameter, the same size as the comet on No Meres Arepa.


Fortunately for us, the case of Comet NEOWISE turns out to have a different outcome than the movie. It came close to the Sun in July of the same year and then moved away, although it will come close to Earth again in about 6800 years.

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