One of the most heart rending death scenes in science fiction film took place near the end of “Serenity” the movie spinoff of the short lived TV show “Firefly” when the ship’s pilot, Wash, having successfully navigated the ship through a space battle between the Alliance Fleet and a horde of Reavers, dies from being skewered by a Reaver spike fired through the wind shield. Now, in a Jan. 10, 2013 piece in Scientific America, Kyle Hall suggests that Wash could not have died.
The reasoning is that had the windshield of the “Serenity” had been as strong as – say – the space shuttle’s, the spike would not have been able to penetrate it. Windshields on space ships are designed to resist the impacts of meteors and space junk. The Reaver projectile would have bounced off and Wash, seeing it, would have made some kind of ironic quip.
Of course Wash had to die, no matter what physics and engineering says to the contrary, because the script required it. Even so, it sounds like a job for the Mythbusters, who recently proved that if Jack Dawson of “Titanic” fame had known anything about physics, he would have lived as well.