Avatar has promised us great technological innovations in film making, but what about the scientific discoveries and technological advances we see on screen? Popular Mechanics takes a look at the science beyond the spectacle.
The article looks at a few of the key scientific aspects of Avatar and fact-checks them for plausibility, explaining the innovations we would need to make them a reality. The challenges of easy interstellar travel apply to tons of movies, but there is also a fascinating discussion on the possibility of habitable worlds in the Alpha Centauri system, where Pandora is supposedly located.
The least plausible scientific advance? The very Avatar technology that is central to the movie's plot. Although neuroscientists are working on brain-machine interfaces have allowed humans and other primates to control the movements of machines, Miguel Nicolelis, the Duke University neuroscientist Popular Mechanics consulted, notes that the transfer of one's consciousness into a biological body is several orders of magnitude beyond what is currently feasible.
But Hollywood can help inspire technological innovation, and the article identifies the RDA's AMP exosuit as an idea that's not yet feasible, but gets inventors' gears turning:
"Movies like Avatar are good to get us thinking about the possibilities," says David Audet, leader of the Soldier Mobility and Mission Enhancement Team at the Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts that has a point role in developing XOS. And while there is "a lot of Hollywood going on" with the AMP suit, it suggests the immense logistical work that such devices could render and serves as, Audet says, "an example of a foundational platform that with very little modifications can perform a large suite of attacks."
The Science Behind James Cameron's Avatar [Popular Mechanics]