At times movies will stick to science as much as it can. More often they rely on pseudo-science and questionable information as a mcguffin or red herring. And when that fails, they just make stuff up. But usually when it comes to elements, they stick to the real stuff. Yet not always…
What is Unobtanium? Something really valuable, maybe some sort of great fuel. Or perhaps they make computer chips out of it. Maybe it goes really great with cornflakes… You may know it from Avatar, but the term is actually much older. It features as a pressure-hardening material in The Core and is actually a piece of engineering jargon that goes back to the 1950s, signifying an unusual or costly material.
What angered Star Wars fans more? Episode 1‘s mess of a script or that The Force was now attributed to some sort of microscopic creatures? Apparently these critters live inside – and in harmony with – cells, the side effect being that you can move stuff with your mind and confuse officers of the law. But it also creates a nice dividing line in the world: if you approve of midi-chlorians, Star Wars is sci-fi. If you don’t Star Wars is space fantasy. Choose wisely, you must…
Bonus: carbonite is also a fictional element, great for – you guessed it – freezing stuff.
Total Recall – the 1990 original – was so awesome that you might have never have wondered what everyone was mining on Mars in the first place, leading to the rebellion and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best movie ever. It’s all about the turbidium, a mineral that helps extract oxygen out of the Martian soil and is used by Earth’s military to make weapons.
- Red Matter
You can find all kinds of made-up elements in Star Trek. But Spock’s big ball of red matter trumps all. A small drop of this stuff creates a black hole capable of stopping a supernova. Alas, Spock fails and sees his home planet get gulped up instead. Red matter is made from another fictional element, decalithium, and Spock must have gone a bit batty refining it. He had enough red matter to suck up existence.
- Mimetic-poly alloy
James Cameron may not have introduced the world to unobtanium, but he gifted us with another cool material that we all wish was real. Mimetic-poly alloy is the stuff the T-1000, the liquid robot from the second Terminator movie, was made of. Able to mimic metal implements, suck through small gaps and hide in front of coffee machines, it was even more badass than Arnie’s one liners.
Last Updated: July 2, 2015