5| Speedy Delivery
Women had been giving birth long before television was invented, so you’d think that at some point TV writers would have consulted with a real live female about the process. They might be surprised to find out that, as a rule, birth doesn’t occur three minutes after the mother’s water breaks.
But we suppose that acknowledging such trivialities as facts would eliminate such plot points as a woman suddenly going into labor and giving birth in an elevator, a taxi, a restaurant booth, etc. In truth, it usually takes many hours after Mom’s water breaks before Baby makes his debut—12 hours is about average, but 48 or 72 hours are not unheard of, especially in the case of a first pregnancy.
4| Headstones In One Hour
Showing a completed, personalized headstone at the gravesite during the burial certainly adds poignancy to any funeral scene (and often acts as shorthand to indicate “character didn’t survive”), but in real life it usually takes a minimum of four weeks after the order has been placed to have a grave marker put in place. And that’s for one from inventory stock; if you prefer custom artwork or other special touches, it could take 90 days or more.
3| Computer Hacking
Have you ever noticed that on TV, it takes detectives three minutes or more to trace a phone call, but in a pinch someone can write a code to hack into a computer in half that time when it comes to tracking down a criminal? Programming requires many complex steps, including making changes to the existing code, compiling it, testing it, and debugging it. Just waiting for a compiler to finish its job can take hours. Even the best hacker cannot click a few keys and access a perp’s password-protected files within a matter of minutes.
2| The Silencer
James Bond makes it look like you can shoot someone in a room full of people and then make a clean getaway as long as your handgun is fitted with a silencer.
But a silencer only dampens that portion of the sound that is created by the exploding gases in a gun; the bullet is still traveling at supersonic speed, and its miniature sonic boom will still be quite audible. When a gun is fired, gunpowder in the bullet shell casing is ignited which produces gas at a high rate.
The high pressure build-up of this gas propels the bullet forward, and as it exits the gun barrel, the release of kinetic energy makes a loud noise. It’s similar to the pop of a champagne cork, but much quicker and louder. A silencer attached to the end of a gun barrel is basically a series of baffles along with an expansion chamber, which gives the gas more time to cool off and dissipate before the bullet finally exits. A silenced gun sounds about as loud as a car door being slammed. It’s much quieter than the usual “bang!” but it’s certainly not the subtle little “whoosh” heard in those espionage films.
1| The Chloroform Nap
A common scene in many mystery movies is the old “knock out an unsuspecting victim by holding a rag full of chloroform over their face” trick. Would this tactic work in real life? Probably not. First of all, chloroform begins to lose its effectiveness as soon as it mixes with oxygen (and some of those villains spend a long time lurking in the shadows with their rags poised).
Secondly, chloroform doesn’t instantly knock a person unconscious; depending upon the victim’s size and weight, the chemical could take up to 10 minutes to subdue someone.
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