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Headscratchers / Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

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  • Wayne has just blown up another apple, then he gets the hint from the boys and realizes it was the ball blocking the laser that allowed the machine to work. So he locks it out, and proceeds to test the machine several times on other objects in order to prove this new theory. Oh, no, wait - he just zaps his neighbour outright, 100% confident that it'll work, even though he was under no time constraint and could have easily tested it extensively, rather than possibly be wrong and paint his lab red with guts.
    • He's not literally under a time constraint, but he's one of four parents whose children have been reduced to being smaller than ants, putting them in constant risk from something like an errant breeze or a mosquito or whatever. He probably wasn't feeling like he had time to do a bunch of extensive testing, even if there was no literal ticking clock.
    • Also, Big Russ volunteers to be the lab rat, in such a way that he clearly will not take no for an answer.
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    • Russ also says he wants to make sure a living thing can survive the process before using it on the kids, so just using a random object wouldn't satisfy him (and Quark runs off thinking they'll try to use him as a test). Wayne at least did offer himself as a test first, but Russ insisted.
  • Bearing in mind that pretty much the whole movie runs on bullshit science, there's one moment that particularly bugs me, to wit: Assume that the machine works by sucking empty space out of a given object but leaving its mass unchanged, as Wayne says. If you were to shrink, say, a 150-pound person down to the size of a gnat, wouldn't you end up with a gnat-sized person who still weighs 150 pounds? Could someone that small yet that massive even move? It can't be that Wayne was just dumbing it down for the people in his audience, either, because they're all scientists just like him.
    • And thinking in reverse, who would want to eat the turkey that has been increased in size? It would be less meat per bite!
    • Well, they should still be able to move because their strength wouldn't change any more than their mass. The real problem is the pressure applied to the ground due to the decreased surface area of their feet. 150 pounds applied to, for example, a nail, might well be enough to drive it through the floorboards. The kids' feet aren't any wider than the tip of a nail.
    • Okay, I want you to think about what you've said: "Bearing in mind that pretty much the whole movie runs on bullshit science, I am unable to accept the central and primary piece of bullshit science in the movie." ... You're basically just saying you can't accept the premise of the movie. So don't watch it and don't complain, then.
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  • Back to the point, yes. You'd end up with the same amount of mass in a smaller volume, which increases density (per the equation), but also effectively increases exerted pressure. It's the whole Ant-Man problem again. This means that the film would've been vastly different. First of all, the kids never would've ended up outside; if you toss a grain of rice that weighs near a hundred pounds into a trash bag, it'll go right through the plastic. If they ended up in the backyard anyway (somehow), their size to contact area ratio would mean that they'd sink into the ground and probably suffocate. (The effective ground pressure of a 5', 100lb person reduced to a "quarter inch tall" would be about 1,000 PSI. That's going to sink badly in ordinary topsoil.) Now, theoretically, they should still be able to move, but it wouldn't matter; the radical changes involved would probably completely disable their nervous systems at a minimum. But, well, I don't think Disney would've gone for that.
    • Who said I was complaining? I never said it was a bad movie, just that I had a quibble with the science involved.
  • In that same scene, Wayne says, "When Einstein invented the atomic bomb, did they ask him to prove that it worked?" Instead of saying, "You, Mr. Szalinski, are hardly Einstein," the guy should have said, "No, because Oppenheimer invented the atomic bomb, numbnuts."
    • And oddly enough, Einstein only proved that the concept could work, but didn't invent it. He's got it all flipped.
    • Plus, I'm pretty sure they were required to prove that it worked. That was the whole point of the test fire in New Mexico, wasn't it?
  • The kids never seem to notice Mr. Szalinski's antics in searching for them. If you were walking through a 3-mile long stretch of forest, I daresay a 1200 foot tall giant repeatedly spinning over the forest would stick out like a sore thumb. Yet they take no notice of their frantically-searching, giant parents until they are at the back door.
    • I think you're forgetting just how small the kids were at the time. They weren't action-figure sized, they were smaller than ants. So small that most of the time they couldn't even see the sun over their heads because the grass was so thick. And the parents couldn't be everywhere in the yard at once. It's completely plausible that the kids managed to just miss them every time. The real question is why the kids didn't hear the parents talking. There's no reason I can think of why a shrunken person would have a hard time hearing a non-shrunken person talking.
      • Other scenes show that full-sized people talking is extremely loud to the shrinkydinks. While this may seem like it would make their voices even easier to pick up, it might also have rendered it like distant thunder, considering they were hovering several inches at least from the lawn as well. "Nick!" might be heard just as nnnk.
      • Also, at no point do the parents try to speak to their shrunken children, even at a whisper. Just letting the kids know that the parents are aware of their situation and trying to find them would make them feel a lot better. Though the kids couldn't respond, they could have set up some kind of 'collection point' or landmark in the yard where the tiny children could be retrieved.
      • The human ear only picks up a particular range of sound frequencies. Compacting the molecules in the ear would probably alter the manner in which sound is perceived, and enough of a change could render normal speech imperceptible by shifting it out of range completely.
  • A full trip across the backyard and they only come across one ant and one scorpion?
    • The fact that they came across a scorpion at all is pretty remarkable. How many scorpions do you have nesting in your backyard? As for the ants, I'd chalk that up to pest control. The ant the kids found might have been the one ant to escape the exterminator.
    • There are other insects than ants and scorpions in gardens. Lots of other insects. Take a piece of garden half a metre in diameter, and you'll find it teeming with all sorts of insects. Most are too tiny for us to see if not specifically looking for them, but for the shrunken kids they'd be the size of dogs. It's completely implausible that they only see the two insects in the garden.
      • They may have seen other ones in passing, it's just that those were the two plot-relevant ones, so they were the ones onscreen. (And actually it's four, remember the bee and butterfly?) Remember this was before the advent of cheap and easy CGI... whipping up a giant insect wasn't as easy as calling up the effects guys and saying "Hey, toss a few aphids and maybe a daddy longlegs in there or something."
  • Mr. Szalinski's yard was supposedly overgrown, but the lawnmower certainly doesn't seem to be making much of a difference.
    • The RC lawnmower might have a setting for raising or lowering the blade that the kid operating it didn't know about. (Real lawnmowers do in fact have this, so you can decide how long you want your grass for its best look or whatever. It's just not as easy as pressing a button.) Since Nick didn't really show him in-detail how to use it he may have had it at its most raised setting.
    • When the kids are recovering from being sucked up and ejected through the lawnmower, the giant blades of grass around them have been noticeably sheared at the top.
  • I love this series dearly, but the main IJBM for me has always just been that after the first film, Wayne Szalinski should have won the Nobel Prizes for both Physics(the machine itself) and Peace(solving the world's problems with garbage, space shuttle cargo weight, actually ALL industrial cargo weight, possibly WORLD HUNGER if the enlarged food can do more than just double in size and actually provides proportionately large amounts of calories and nutrition, heck, even prison overcrowding if the government sanctioned its use on inmates for the length of their terms) and instantly become one of the richest people in the world and most famous scientists of all time. The sequels make it clear they've gotten substantially more money and moved to progressively bigger houses, and Wayne is the President of Szalinski Labs by the third film, but he's still seen as something of a joke overall. Obviously the Anthropic Principle applies though, and the third film even appears to Lampshade this by having Wayne pleasantly surprised to see his R&D department have developed a working dog translator, which he remarks "Wow! Could be promising!".
    • There's a trope for that, but it's for supervillians.
    • Wayne is smart, but he's not all that bright. It's possible he did achieve some fame after he showed off his working shrink ray to the scientific community but later on he squandered it somehow. Also, he may be company president in name only. Despite his scientific knowledge he's still something of a bumbling dunce. His board of directors may have quietly shuffled him off to the side and elected someone else to run Szalinski Labs for him, only trotting Wayne out for press photos and such.
      • This was lampshaded in the first episode of the series by Diane.
      Diane: "Why aren't we richer?"
      • I'm pretty sure that even if I were a complete goober who somehow managed to cure cancer, I'd be the the richest and most famous goober in the world.
      • I'm sure Wayne has plenty of money. He probably receives an absurdly generous stipend from the company. Fame however is another matter entirely. Again, just because Wayne is president of Szalinski Labs doesn't mean he's any good at running the company. We're talking about a man who nearly got four children killed because he failed to do something as simple as unplugging his incredibly dangerous prototype shrink ray before he left the house.
      • Maybe all of his money is spent on building those other dangerous untested prototypes. Does he actually ever mention having trouble finding parts for his home lab ?
    • Inmates, hell - everyone would want to be shrunk. Imagine the benefits - your average house could hold thousands and thousands of people. Sure, climate might be a bit of a problem when a raindrop could drown you and a gust of wind could blow you away tornado-style, but the possibilities would be endless regardless - people could build virtually sealed, box-sized weather-resistant super-villas, and only re-enlarge themselves when going out. And imagine the benefits in manufacturing - nanomachines, anyone?
    • On a similar subject, where in the hell was Szalinski's patent attorney when he signed on the dotted line with Sterling Labs? What kind of raw deal did he get himself into that allowed them to throw him off his own project?
    • Given that Wayne's entire being is geared towards For Science! it's not unfeasible that he didn't bother to patent it, and once Sterling Labs found that out, they patented it so they could get rich.
    • The third movie might explain this actually. It's mentioned that a government committee declared the shrinking/enlarging machine a hazard thanks to all the mishaps that happened with it and how unreliable it was and Wayne was forbidden to use it again or further develop the technology. Which was why he had to sneak around his wife's back to shrink the Tiki head. So that's why it wasn't mass produced and used world wide. They didn't want to risk shrinking people or created more giants by accident. Then again it's also well known enough by the world in that film that the original machine was gonna be sent to the Smithsonian for display, so Wayne should be a world renowned scientist if his invention is that famous.
  • The kids' sizes are portrayed inconsistently. At one point Nick calculates that they're 1/4 inch tall. However, they can all fit comfortably on the back of an ant. That must be a HUGE ant (even though Nick calls it a baby... which also doesn't make sense because baby ants are larvae). Especially since it can fight a scorpion. Later on, Nick is apparently small enough to use a Cheerio as a flotation device.
    • Writers Have No Sense of Scale. It's a common problem for movies like this. Apparently "We're now tiny" = "Everything else is huge enough to ride on!".
      • This can be expanded further when you consider that Nick worked out that the distance for them to get to the back door is 3.5 miles,. Now even if you take into consideration everything that happened to them throughout that walk, it still should not have taken them 1.5 days to get there.
      • You know all of this basically works out just fine if you assume Nick was wrong. Remember that he's smart but he's not quite as smart as he thinks he is a lot of the time. They're actually much smaller but Nick messed up his original assessment and then doesn't bother to correct himself because he doesn't want to admit he's wrong, especially when no one's interested in calling him on it.
    • Red ants are big enough for being 1/4 inch and ride her back.

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