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Worst epic science fail you have seen in sci-fi?
This is a book rather than a movie or TV show, but the sheer number of egregious science mistakes in this book justify its addition here IMHO. With that in mind, I give you Hex by Allen Steele and my comments copied from the review I wrote about the book on Amazon:

Science problems:

1) The background for most of the story is a Dyson sphere, a huge artificial structure enclosing its entire star. Probably moderately familiar to most SF readers. In this case, the sphere is spun for gravity. Steele mentions this and then promptly ignores this fact for the entire rest of the story, with his spacecraft (which appear to use some sort of nuclear fission or fusion rocket or even chemical thrusters) just flying right up to it. Problem is, that an object this size, spinning fast enough to produce the 2 gravities of centrifugal force at its equator that is mentioned, would be moving at hundreds of miles per second (Larry Niven describes this in detail in his excellent book Ringworld, with a 1 gravity spin for the ringworld requiring it to move at 770 miles per second. The spin also plays a role in various parts of the story and later books). As mentioned, in Hex this spin gets about 1 sentence and is then ignored.

2) It is mentioned several times in the book that the sphere is made up of about a trillion open hexagonal structures. Less than 15 minutes of research on google to locate the appropriate calculators plus maybe a minute or two more of number crunching reveals that the sphere would actually consist of a bit more than 43 billion hexagons. Still a very large and impressive number but nothing in the same league as a trillion plus.

3) At one point the sphere is said to have a volume of 1.086e17 miles (that's 1,086, +14 zeros). Normally you would say cubic miles, but Steele leaves this out. Possibly because this number isn't the volume of a sphere this size but the surface area. The actual volume 3.37e24 cubic miles (that's 3,370,+21 zeros roughly).

Ok, so maybe it's not critical to the whole story, but given that Steele actually goes out of his way to produce some nice little drawings of details of the sphere structure at the beginning, includes another graphic elsewhere in the book (mine was a hexagon in the paperback copy, they must have fixed it since the other reviews were written), and has a page on which he presents several of the dimensions of the sphere, in one case exactly and out to three decimal places, it would appear that some sort of calculations were done. They just appear to have been incomplete and sloppy.

4) At several points in the book it appears that the main exploration ship is effectively hanging in space near where the action is going on. This would be impossible even if the sphere weren't rotating. Apparently Steele has no real comprehension of the concept of an orbit.


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RE: Worst epic science fail you have seen in sci-fi? - by Drashner1 - 06-13-2017, 12:02 PM

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