Hot Sci-Fi Hair! The Science of The Expanse, Episode 5

Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 17:24

The Expanse has been painstakingly crafted to be as scientifically accurate as possible, so we'd be doing the whole universe a disservice if we didn't call out all of the minutiae that make the show the most realistic look at the future we've ever seen. We sat down with Daniel Abraham, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby, the co-creators and producers (Daniel is also 1/2 of the team that wrote the book series the show is based on)  to get the lowdown on the insane level of detail and intricacy they put into the science we see in the show. But how real is it? Nerds, read on.

Q:  In episode five, Eros is accelerating towards earth, at an inhuman rate, so why is Miller not plastered to the floor?
DANIEL ABRAHAM:  Why?  That's really weird right? Why isn't he knocked off of it the first time it moves?  He doesn't even feel the difference in the all the local environment. He winds up somehow stabilized when Eros wakes up.
HAWK OSTBY:  It's very impolite to ask about plot holes.  
DANIEL ABRAHAM:  That's not a plot hole!
HAWK OSTBY:  I'm joking.  I'm joking!
MARK FERGUS: Those are good questions.  You don’t want to frustrate the audience by explaining it through exposition. It’s something that Miller ponders himself, and to realize that ...
MARK FERGUS:  It's not playing by our rules.
HAWK OSTBY:  Yes.  It's defying the rules of physics.
DANIEL ABRAHAM:  But it's not magic because it's still stuck with the second law of thermodynamics.  We still see it burning energy.  We still see it waste heat, whatever it's doing.
MARK FERGUS:  But it’s doing something that, we haven’t figured out how to do yet.
MARK FERGUS:  We haven’t seen it before and yet all the laws of physics still hold. It’s something in our rulebook that we just don’t understand, but it’s still not using voodoo. Miller should be squashed, but he doesn’t feel the acceleration.  He sees all these physical forces going on and they all have the appropriate reaction that physics demands.  So, it’s kind of a cool…
DANIEL ABRAHAM: It's sort of the payoff for all of the rigor that we've used up until now.  If we had been using artificial gravity in the story, and we'd used all these hand-wavium explanations things, the weirdness of Eros becomes lessened.  This is the part of the story where something, outside of our world occurs. “Oh no!  We're outclassed here. This is not good!"
Q:  What is in the juice they take on the Roxinante, and what is it doing?
DANIEL ABRAHAM:  What it's doing is controlling blood pressure and the elasticity of blood vessels to try to keep you from stroking out.  That's the big thing it's doing. The hardest thing about long, sustained high-G burns is that humans aren't used to them. So, it's something that will make sure that your blood pressure stays high enough so that you're getting blood all the way to your brain and that you're remaining elastic enough that you don't just pop like a balloon.
Q:  Regarding the hair of the character Julie Mao. Is that how hair behaves in zero G? Also, is that why you gave Miller a haircut, so you wouldn't have to spend money on his computer graphics hair?
HAWK OSTBY: We watched a lot of videos on zero G hair.  It's nice, but it's kind of ugly. It's clumpy and it's not Medusa. It doesn't have that poetry to it.  And so we said, let's split the difference.  We'll have the gravity, but we want it to dance and we want it be beautiful and magical.  
DANIEL ABRAHAM:  Real 0g hair is underwhelming.
HAWK OSTBY:  Underwhelming, and when you get to get to a moment like that, you just want to have your mind blown.  You don't want to be thinking about a clump of hair.  When the VX team presented what they were doing, and it's so damn beautiful, you’re willing to take the 10 degree hit of reality for what they're doing.  Miller’s hair was 100 percent his (Thomas Jane’s) idea to embrace his belter side.  He wanted to do that, to physically change as he spiritually changed.  
HAWK OSTBY:  He didn't want to involve his body as well as his mind, as he's going on this journey. That freaked everybody out.  They were like, "No, we we're just getting used to Miller.  Don't change it now!"  But he really fought for that and just became this cool thing that was very character-driven for him.  It wasn't a fashion thing.  It was a character thing.
DANIEL ABRAHAM:  And it was nice because it saved 20,000 dollars.
HAWK OSTBY:  I don't think we would have done the CG hair anyway, because his hair was kind of scraggly and I don't think it would've been a issue.
DANIEL ABRAHAM:  Yeah.  It was the right way.  What we did was the right way.

Catch up on The Expanse here.