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Old 05-27-2011, 08:26 PM
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Toruk Makto, Admin
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Default My open email to 'Intuitor'

After seeing this page on Avatar: Avatar , I felt the need to reply and address some points. This is my reply:

Just in the interest of accuracy, I'd like to point out the mistakes in your article on Avatar. I doubt I will see any changes to it, but I'd like to at least feel I tried - I would be interested in a reply on any points you would still contest though.

Firstly, they're called the Na'vi. Not Navi, or The Navi. Please make an effort with their very name, even if I can understand why many people don't get the other species names.
Basing a timescale of development on history has always been a mistake - I would direct your attention to one of my favourite quotes: "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." — Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895. As it is, Avatar is not set in 2056 anyway, but 2154, so I fail to see any problem. As for fuel costs, antimatter is certainly expensive, but remember that antimatter today has never been produced in more than a few single molecules at a time. Obviously that affects the cost, that is like basing a theory on the cost of plutonium in 1942. Storage is an actual valid issue, but heat isn't necessarily a problem as it would be on most spacecraft - you should have noticed, but a significant proportion of the ISV's structure is composed of radiators. The first ISV (that did not use unobtainium as part of its antimatter containment) was three times the size, with the space being cooling systems. While the ISV is nearly a mile long, the majority of it is not a large structure - this is not the Enterprise or whatever. It is a set of cargo and cryo modules being towed on a cable. The majority of it has no massive structures.

Unobtainium itself - the name is not original, certainly, but considering the fact that it was almost certainly discovered and named by physicists, this is easily a joke based on the fact that a compound (no, it is not an element) with such ideal properties was actually discovered. Claiming that unobtainium could be synthesised simply because Pandora can be reached is an example of package-deal fallacy, as well as the simple fact that the majority of naturally occurring compounds found today can no be synthesised either. Not understanding the uses of unobtainium is understandable for someone without knowledge of the background - but it is used for power distribution systems on Earth, transport systems and antimatter containment, so there is certainly at least sufficient demand. The honest fact is though, that even without knowledge of the uses, not only could the basic uses of a high temperature superconductor be reasonably estimated, but it is logical that there is sufficient demand to maintain the production level.

As for shipping machinery to Pandora - the simple fact is that it is not. Almost everything is assembled locally using stereolithography - the main things that are brought from Earth are electronics and other high precision components that can not be manufactured there - not entire vehicles. Infrastructure DOES exist - there is a detailed plan of Hell's Gate here:

Again, the 'use of robots' argument is understandable from someone who has only taken a rudimentary look at the background, and is one I have defeated before. Pandora's magnetic field is stronger then Earth's and renders many complicated electronics unusable (one of the main reasons that the marines' vehicles are primarily from the late 21st century rather than mid 22nd), the atmosphere renders most machinery susceptible to failure and requiring frequent maintenance - which not only requires large numbers of humans, but is the reason that they are used to perform tasks humans can not do, and not ones which they would only be as good as a human for (and more expensive). The 'colony' argument is actually more interesting, but it ignores the fact that the human presence on Pandora is relatively small, the relatively short time they have been there, and the fact that mining operations are mostly using machinery anyway (an example of one of the applications where humans would be impractical directly as mentioned above). Why wait 25-30 years for results when you can get them that year? Considering the fact that if humans coming to Pandora were all a one-way trip, then the ISV's cryo units would be empty on the return journey, so it is not necessarily illogical, only as far as justifying the fuel cost. Considering the fact that the RDA's entire contract relating to space is based on certain provisions (the discussed ones mainly involve military) then child labour seems unlikely - and either way, I don't see the relevance to physics there.

As for the marines' weaponry - the AMP suits do use explosive rounds - an 'angtsik (hammerhead titanothere - 'dinosaur-like beast') is not only covered in natural armour and with a carbon-fibre skeleton, but actually far larger than an elephant and possessing higher kinetic energy - even if killed, it is going to keep going and smash an AMP suit and the marine it contains into a fine paste. The argument of the marines' equipment is another I have heard before - as I mentioned above they are not armed with the weapons available on Earth (primarily electromagnetic based railgun-style weapons) because they are near-useless in Pandora's magnetic field and atmosphere. As it is, their equipment is significantly better than 2009-era ones - the Scorpion, for example (the attack helicopter) is superior to a modern one in every way even in Pandora's atmosphere, which degrades flight characteristics. The question of armour is a simple one - there is nothing that WILL protect against an 8-9 foot bow with over a tonne of draw weight while still being able to move and carry it, and even if it did, the internal injuries would be enough to kill a human, much as people can be injured after a bulletproof vest blocks a shot from a current-day firearm.

A small note about the AMP suits is that they are originally modified from commercial vehicles used for heavy lifting and construction - while they have been used by Earth militaries in some conflicts in areas uninhabitable to humans due to their survivability and sealed cockpit, in those cases then they rely more on sensors, with an armoured cover over the cockpit, which is useless on Pandora due to the the sensor interference and the greatly increased need for visibility. the agility may well be an issue if one was built today, but as you have pointed out elsewhere in your article, it's the future - in this case, it is plausible for a small to moderate improvement, although I will concede that the fight against Quaritch had more human-like movement than the other AMP suits, which was certainly to make it more balanced than it would have otherwise been as a fight. As it is, there is no physical impossibility there.

There are a few theories regarding the Avatar link, but ultimately it is not possible with current technology, but the basic underpinnings are still theoretically possible. The mountains use the Meissner effect - I assume you did not see the rerelease where it was explained in the actual film (rather than background material) what the specific use of unobtainium (room temperature superconductor) is - this does NOT need an extremely large magnetic field such as attracting ferromagnetic objects. Pandora's magnetic field is stronger than Earth's, but not that strong (although I must say I am pleased you did not make the 'normal' misconception there, that the field would kill a human). As for disruption of electronic systems, that is another reason that late 21st century technology is in widespread use rather than mid-22nd, and the design of the aircraft is largely mechanical (although it is said that this technology is also making a comeback on Earth as EMP-based weaponry has fallen into the hands of terrorists there).

Human movement on Pandora is an interesting point - proportionally, the Na'vi are far stronger than humans, and although humans do not visibly bounce when they walk, the effect of 0.8g is far more subtle than most explicitly low gravity worlds - in addition, humans are close on one of the smallest mammals on Pandora. Six legs makes a lot of sense in survival on Pandora - firstly, evolution is not always convergent. Secondly, Pandora has both lower gravity and a significantly denser atmosphere. Six legs allow for far better grip on the ground and more speed and control when running. Most flying creatures have four legs, with the exception of Toruk (Great Leonopteryx), which maintains separate legs with claws, which makes sense for an apex predator, while ikran (banshees) 'sit' on their rear wings when on the ground. Prolemuris (the apelike creatures with the arms that split at the elbow) show adaptation for a treetop environment and presumably spend minimal time on the surface, where a multiple-limb grip on the ground provides its main advantage. It should also be noted that the Na'vi have prehensile toes and an enlarged thumb-like toe with gap, which allows their foot to function much like a hand and increases grip on the ground.
Animals breathing through an operculum actually makes sense - while there is an obvious danger with deep water, they appear able to close, and are presumably able to be cleared with force, while the entire system allows for higher performance breathing during physical activity, as well as improved airflow, particularly in Pandora's denser atmosphere, where less effort is then needed to bring air into the lungs. Again, this seems to be veering more into biology, which is actually more of my specialism than physics, but I am happy to discuss it.
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Old 05-27-2011, 08:27 PM
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Toruk Makto, Admin
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The physical form of the Na'vi, I will admit, is to allow humans to relate to them to a degree, the same as 99.95% of scifi species - but is not completely implausible. Convergent evolution can be presumed to have occurred, and the aforementioned prolemuris give a clear evolutionary link between the Na'vi and other species. Interestingly, you didn't fall down the usual 'Na'vi have four limbs' trap - when I can list at least four other species that do. The existence of the queue and tsaheylu can be attributed to a simple difference in early direction of evolution - more interdependent systems, possibly even early life being less like individual cells on Earth and more similar to fungal mycelium, blurring the line between individual organisms and a whole, and the ability to share neural connections was retained as forms became more complex.

The Na'vi by no means have 'no warfare' but it is said to mostly have been in the past, and on the scale of inter-clan conflicts and not human-style global ones - this is visible in the existence of words in their language, shields, as well as many of their physical weapons (which did not make an appearance in the film itself but are well described elsewhere). Indeed, with their interconnectedness, it is unlikely any conflict would ever become a genuine risk to any more than individuals, not even on the level of a clan.

With Jake and the battle (off biology and onto general planning now?), admittedly, the overall strategy was not perfect and ambushes against the marines on the ground may well have worked better, but Jake was not exactly intelligent or a master planner - that would have been something Tom would have been better at. As it is, the Na'vi care enough to risk everything in defending their home since due to the very existence of the neural network, a part of them remains as long as it does, while it forms an extremely important part of their lives, the same way people on Earth are willing to take massive risks to protect loved ones. While the strategy could certainly have been better, there was nothing implicitly wrong with it - indeed, it is also likely that, of the clans who participated, many were participating of their own accord and considered it the best way for them. Just because a human wouldn't do it (also something I would contest, but that's beside the point) doesn't make it wrong.

Back onto actual physics, there is nothing anywhere that says that the links work like mobile phones - indeed, they are 'psionic link units' and not 'radio communication link units'. The link can not be intercepted and used by another for the very reason Jake was there in the first place - an Avatar is matched to its user's nervous system for them to be able to use it in the first place, as the link is quantum-based. If that was not true, there would have been no need for Jake anyway as Grace would have hired someone else who actually knew what he was doing to take over Tom's position.

The aircraft canopies were not 'under-designed' - a bow with over a tonne of draw weight, fired from an ikran diving at terminal velocity, impacting at a 90 degree angle against them (remember, sloped armour is effective because it presents the MOST material to a projectile) WILL go straight through. Remember that before, when fired upwards and impacting the armour as designed, they were not able to penetrate.

As for the ending, well, Hell's Gate is under the control of the scientists, the RDA have MASSIVELY broken their contract regarding mistreatment of the Na'vi and there is huge amounts of evidence, all of which can arrive at Earth before the returning ISV, not to mention, as you yourself pointed out earlier, they just returned from an expensive trip with nothing to pay for it. Again, the RDA's contract was the entire point that they were not able to use disproportionate force, since they were NOT supposed to harm the Na'vi. They do not possess orbital weapons, and there is nearly no disease on Pandora (admittedly a point you might have missed) due both to life's adaptability, interconnectedness, and degree of symbiosis, and the Na'vi not living in optimal pandemic-causing conditions like humans do.

It can be almost assured that all life on Pandora will be extremely hostile to any further marines, and the only safe area to land on the entire moon is under the control of the science teams, avatars and Na'vi, not to mention armed with a significant amount of anti-air weaponry.The following ISVs will only contain resupply missions thanks to having already been well underway, and it can be almost assured that when word gets back, no more will be coming, at least not from the RDA. I pointed out elsewhere how an invasion would be completely impossible, especially without Hell's Gate, but the short version is that such an ISV load would contain maximum 20-30 marines without any real weaponry, no vehicles at all, and would have nowhere to land, and be extremely detectable (someone with as good an understanding of physics as you will understand how a ship decelerating from 0.75c into a system will be hugely visible)

Other than that, I have to say, you are possibly the most interesting person I've commented on perceived problems by, as you have a far better understanding of physics than 99% of people who attempt to find fault, admittedly better than my own, and certainly a worthy adversary - most perceived problems stem from lack of background information, which is certainly no fault of the audience, although I do think that it can be considered fair to research these before criticising. I also appreciate the points outside of physics (mainly biology), although these are relatively trivial to answer. I would be interested to hear your response on this email.
Eywa ngahu,
Human No More

PS. As you might tell, I know Avatar well and love it, I would consider myself extremely well informed on all aspects, one of the reasons I do take it on myself to point out misconceptions, so for the sake of disclosure, I am 'Human No More' on many Avatar communities.
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Old 05-27-2011, 10:55 PM
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I wonder if they're going to read it.
Nice job anyway.
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Old 05-27-2011, 11:01 PM
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Wow -- very impressive, HNM! Thanks for sharing -- I enjoyed reading all you wrote.

Your love shines the way into paradise.

Seen Avatar 27 times (Viewings: IMAX=2, Regular 3D=6, DVD/Blu-ray=19)
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Old 05-27-2011, 11:11 PM
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Pa'li Makto
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Ma HNM, this is... EPIC WIN!
All this is your fault

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Old 05-28-2011, 12:17 AM
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Toruk Makto, Admin
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I have quite a lot of experience refuting those arguments on a couple of sites, since they are all based on the same fundamental misconceptions, but his article was the greatest concentration of them that I have seen in one post.
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Old 05-28-2011, 07:15 AM
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Sounds like a well thought out response.
Congrats for taking the time to do that. The guy did have some interesting comments though, compared with most Avatar critics. He keeps calling the Tree of Souls the Tree of Life though.
Always listening to The Orb: O.O.B.E...

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Old 05-28-2011, 07:18 AM
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Nicely done. I hope they give it a read.
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Old 05-29-2011, 07:14 AM
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Very well done But I can see why people would have some of those misconceptions though.

Like everyone else says, hope they read it and reconsider.

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Old 05-29-2011, 11:24 AM
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Great, sounds very thought out. I think they'll read it, it was interesting enough that I read the whole thing on a cell phone.
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Old 05-30-2011, 04:44 AM
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Just another reason why we all love you, HNM.
that response is totally awesome.
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[Today 11:06 PM] tallbluewanderer: logic must give way to AVATAR

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Old 06-21-2011, 09:57 PM
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Awesome.. and LONG.
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Old 06-21-2011, 11:15 PM
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Most admirable
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Old 06-22-2011, 03:42 AM
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One Word comment: PERFECT!!!!!!
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Old 06-22-2011, 03:55 AM
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I finally got around to reading your thread here and WOW.... I love what you wrote! So professional, informative, and I have to say....WAY TO KICK SOME AVATAR A**! You did a magnificent job on this writing and very proud that you represented our love of Avatar so eliquently! Txantsan ma tsmukan! *HIGH FOURS to HNM*


"All I ever wanted in my sorry ass life was a single thing worth fighting for "-JAKE SULLY
ėė.... Srane, nė'it omum futa lu yawne oeru rel arusikx alu Uniltėrantokx!

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