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The Science and Controversy Behind Netflix’s ‘3-Body Problem’ – National | Globalnews.ca

those of Netflix 3 Body Problem has sparked fascination and controversy.

Based on the 2008 novel by Liu Cixin and brought to the small screen by Game Of Thrones Creators DB Weiss and David Benioff, the series tells the story of an impending alien invasion of Earth.

The show features scientific material that left some viewers with questions and historical events that upset some people in China.

Global News spoke with experts to separate fact from fiction and history from hysteria.

What is a three-body problem?

A three-body problem refers to three astronomical bodies, such as planets or suns, and how each object’s gravity impacts the orbits of the other.

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But it’s easier to understand if we start with a two-body problem.

“The closer the objects are, the stronger the gravitational pull,” said Paul Delaney, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy at York University.

The Sun is about a million times larger than Earth, according to NASA, and so its gravity keeps our planet in orbit around it.

The orbit is stable, which makes it predictable, Delaney said.

This is a two-body problem, just like the Moon and Earth, and it’s a problem that has been solved since Sir Isaac Newton’s work on gravity.

“We can theoretically determine where (the two objects) will be based on time,” Delaney told Global News.

“There are complications with angular momentum, tidal forces and friction,” he said, speaking from Tuscon, Ariz., “but for all practical purposes the moon will remain in a stable orbit .»

There are other planets in the solar system and the Moon orbits the Earth. Delaney told Global News, however, that these objects are so distant and have such a small mass compared to that of the sun that they do not significantly influence Earth’s orbit.

A three-body problem involves another astronomical object, such as another sun.

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“The stability of the planetary orbit around the two stars,” he said, “is not stable.”


Click to play video: 'We're setting course for Mars': Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen reflects on his mission to the Moon »


“We’re setting a course for Mars”: Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen reflects on his mission to the Moon


This instability means that the orbit becomes less predictable, because changing distances and the forces that objects exert on each other would also change the speed.

“Therefore, predicting where they will be based on weather is doable, but much more difficult,” Delaney said.

So three-body problems exist and can become even more complicated, even with eight stars.

An “n-body” problem, Delaney explained – where “n” represents any number of objects exerting gravity on each other – is “horrible” to calculate.

An n-body problem could potentially cause one of the objects to collide with another or be ejected into space, according to Delaney.

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And the different gravities that weigh on a planet in an n-body problem of two or more could disrupt, or even destroy, life on the planet.

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This could affect tectonic plates and cause earthquakes, change tides and change the water cycle and weather, Delaney told Global News.

“If our surface temperature consistently fell below freezing for just a few years, let alone centuries or beyond, yes, we would be toast,” he said.

The Three-Body Problem in the Netflix series refers to three suns, with the Trisolean people living on a planet stuck between them.

“Tri” comes from Latin and Greek and means “three”, while “solar” comes from the Latin word meaning “sun”. Their planet is caught between the gravity of the three suns and their civilization is perpetually destroyed.

Aliens want to invade Earth to live on a planet with a stable two-body problem.

To visualize their potential future home, Trisolaris use a proton to project and receive information across the universe, from Trisolaris to Earth, using what is called “quantum entanglement.”

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“As soon as you put the word ‘quantum’ in front of something, everyone goes ‘ooh’ and anything seems possible,” Delaney said.

Quantum entanglement is real, he added, but the way the show describes it doesn’t work – as far as we know.

Eiza González as Auggie Salazar in “3 Body Problem” episode 103. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024.

Protons are positively charged subatomic particles. Along with neutrons, which have no charge (as in “neutral”), they are part of an atom’s nucleus.

For example, a hydrogen atom includes a proton and a negatively charged electron in a probability field surrounding it.

Protons are not “little bits of matter that just sit there,” Delaney said. They have specific characteristics, involving among other things the electrons surrounding them and their own spin.

“We think this information can be linked to other particles, so that all the exact states of that particular particle are mimicked by (that) particle,” Delaney said.

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“And if you change the state of this (proton), (the state of the other proton) changes instantly, regardless of distance..”

He said it was an example of one of the frictions between quantum mechanics and the regular atomic theory of matter, which states that everything can only move at the speed of light.

“If you’re 400 light years apart, then it takes 400 years” to get there, traveling at the speed of light, Delaney said.

Entanglement ignores this distance, but that doesn’t mean the information can be transmitted.

“The proton does not exactly scan the Earth, select photographs, or transmit information about its local environment.“, he said.

At one point, a human character in the series proposes detonating a series of nuclear bombs in space to propel a spaceship forward.

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It turns out that this is theoretically possible.

“We considered this option in the 1960s, when nuclear warheads were common,” Delaney told Global News.

It was called Project Orion.

The device would have been “propelled by successive explosions of hydrogen atomic bombs,” according to the website of the American Air and Space Museum. The crew compartment would be “well protected from explosion and radiation” and shocks from explosions would be absorbed by water-cooled sources.

The site says the U.S. government canceled Orion in 1964 after seven years of work “primarily because of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, which banned nuclear testing in the atmosphere.”

Delaney said the design seemed untenable and dangerous, with a giant irradiated plate permanently located behind the astronauts and the need for numerous nuclear bombs.

The series has attracted attention not only for its science fiction, but also for its depictions of political events.

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The series opens with a scene set in 1960s China during the Cultural Revolution.

In it, Red Guards beat a scientist to death.

Episode 101 of “3-Body Problem”. Cr. Ed Miller/Netflix © 2024.

“The first scene left me speechless,” one person wrote on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform.

“Westerners basically cannot accept the idea of ​​the Chinese inventing cutting-edge technology,” another person wrote on the review and social networking site Douban.

The Cultural Revolution began in China in 1966 when the leader of the Chinese Community Party (CCP) and the country, Mao Zedong, mobilized Chinese youth against bureaucracy, according to Carleton University professor emeritus Jeremy Paltiel.

Mao believed he was being excluded from power, he said, and believed he could purge people he didn’t like while inoculating China with the possibility of losing its revolutionary zeal by forcing young to reject the old.

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“It quickly became extremely violent because no one really knew who the right targets were,” Paltiel said.

He said the CCP has never completely counted the deaths, but “we are certainly talking about tens of thousands of people who were beaten to death.”

“People have been beaten to death in public,” he said. sSome were “cannibalized”.

He told Global News he participated in a student exchange in 1974, after the violence ended.

“In our dormitory, the shower stalls no longer had doors because they had been removed during the Cultural Revolution to form armor (for) the students who were fighting.”

The country is still ruled by the CCP and Mao remains a revered leader. As such, Paltiel said, the Cultural Revolution is “not taught very well.”

“(The CCP) says it’s a mistake, but it doesn’t dwell on it” because it’s a time of suffering and humiliation for the party.

He suspects that the criticism leveled by some in China at the Netflix series probably stems from the surprise of people unfamiliar with what happened, in a country where history and the internet are heavily censored. He also suggests that some might be outraged because it appears foreigners are embarrassing China by showing such a tumultuous time.

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But the novel that forms the source material for the Netflix series was written by a Chinese author, Liu Cixin, and originally published in China before being translated into English.

The novel won the prestigious Hugo Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy in 2015.

While the decision to adapt the book was criticized in 2020, with five Republican senators calling on Netflix to reconsider Liu’s comments about Uighur Muslims, Netflix defended the decision in a statement reported by Variety that year.

“Mr. Liu is the author of the books, not the creator of this series,” Netflix reportedly said.

– with files from Reuters

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