18.5.14

Predator Math!

While posting about AvP's terrible tagline, I realized that I'd never bothered to post anything about one of the movie's most baffling plot points - the drill team.

As the premise is outlined by Lance Henriksen, we learn that the Antarctic temple is 2000ft below the ice. Let's be charitable and assume that's the base of the temple, rather than the top, so the guys don't have to drill an extra hundred feet - it's a big temple, after all. When they arrive at the proposed starting point for their excursion, they discover this-

Someone has already drilled the tunnel for them, using-


A laser from space. Somehow this doesn't give anyone second/third/fourth/innumerable thoughts about the trip. It's not like the characters don't know that it was an alien space laser that was responsible for the drilling-


They even comment on how nothing on earth could have possibly drilled the hole in just a single day. This somehow gives no one pause. Let's skip past the terrible writing though, and instead turn to math - the drilling team announces that they fully intended to go from the surface all the way down to the temple-


In seven days. Does that sound even remotely possible? Let's consider the distance they're planning on drilling. 2000ft down drilled at a 15% incline (the predators did theirs at 30%, but that was with a laser from space - I can't imagine this being a remotely safe activity anywhere near that angle) means that for every one foot drilled down, they have to drill approximately 3.6 feet forward, for a total drilling distance of 7200ft, or 2.2 kilometers.

That's 2200 meters drilled at a mildly treacherous incline during a permanent night in some of the worst weather conditions on earth. Stone tunnelers working on a flat trajectory would be happy to drill a handful of meters per day - while ice is obviously much weaker, the additional problems it creates (steam, water pooling, increased likelihood of 'cave-ins' as surrounding ice weakens from the heat) would undoubtedly slow things down. Also, the machine they brought to do the tunneling-


Is woefully inadequate for the job at hand, as it can clearly only bore a single small hole at a time. This isn't one of those huge drills that just pushes forwards, constantly rotating a head the size of its entire chassis. So was the plan to drill a few holes, move the machine into the cave, then drill a few more, repeating until it was complete, or just drill a single 4-foot-wide bore hole all the way down, constantly adding longer and longer pieces of drill pipe until they have a single, 2.2 kilometer long drill bit? Although I don't know if that really works well at an angle...

The point is, the best case scenario they could have hoped for is that after a month+ of drilling, they'd have a 5-foot-wide, 2.2km long hole that each member of the team would have to be lowered down individually, followed by every piece of equipment. Doable, but not ideal - that's a long time for people to be waiting on the boat in the Antarctic. Yet when they turn up and discover that someone has helpfully drilled a 12-foot-wide hole for them using a laser from space, not one member of the team thinks that this is unbelievably convenient, and almost exactly what a trap would look like.

Oh, Paul Anderson. Sigh.

1 comment:

busterggi said...

Naive little bunch aren't they?