2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

49 corrected entries

Corrected entry: When Bowman rotates the handle of the emergency hatch on the Discovery, the pod should rotate. Without a grip on the Discovery to brace the pod, nothing would keep it from rotating.



Correction: The designers of the Discovery and their pods obviously thought of this. They would have incorporated attitude jets on the pod itself or a counter rotating sleeve on the arm of the grip to balance the rotation.

Corrected entry: When Dave Bowman blows the explosive bolts on the pod to get into the Discovery, he flies into the long airlock, then back out towards the exit. Watch the pod through both of these shots; it doesn't move a single centimeter when the bolts explode and is in the exact same position when Bowman's body heads back towards the exit. Even with the best possible maneuvering thrusters automatically set to hold the pod in place, it would have moved significantly when the explosive bolts were set off. One corrector proposed that the pod would be held in place because the mechanical arms used to open the airlock would have held it there. Incorrect; Bowman released the pod's grip on the discovery in order to turn it around. The same corrector proposed that the expolsion would not overcome the forward inertia of the Discovery. Wrong again, the pod and Discovery are traveling at the same speed; an explosive decompression would push the pod forward at great velocity.


Correction: Not so. The pod would be weightless in outer space but it still has mass and inertia. The total change in momentum of Bowman and the air escaping from the pod, applied to a pod with about the mass of medium sized car, would result in the pod moving away at only about 50cm per second. That would be barely noticeable from our point of view, even if the change wasn't immediately corrected by an auto-pilot mechanism, which is feasible. We can calculate the reaction speed of the pod this way : assume a gas volume of 4 cubic metres, a mass for the pod of 2500 kg, a mass for Bowman of 150 kg, an average delta v of 100 m/s for the air in the pod, and a delta v of 10 m/s for Bowman - all of which yields a result of 0.5 m/s, and if air pressure in the pod were lower it would have moved even more slowly.

Corrected entry: When Dave goes to retrieve lifeless Frank the computer screen to his right which is supposed to show continuously updated data, twice displays a jagged line like those found near the end of a reel of a motion picture film.

Correction: Those things in films are there to tell the projectionist that the reel is about to end. The first tells him to expect a projector swap, and the second means "switch projectors." Whatever you see is DEFINITELY not projector switch signals, as the little mini-movies on screens would not have them. I just looked at the scene seven times and I don't see it. Either I missed it or it's an image compression artifact. What color was the screen background, and was it the front or rear right screen? Where on the screen was it? If it was a purple background, those are numbers flashing onscreen.


Corrected entry: When Astronaut Poole goes on the EVA to retrieve the AE-35 unit from Discovery's antenna, the scene shows the Pod coming directly over the top of the sphere. However, the view from inside the Pod has it off to the side of the spaceship.


Correction: There is a time interval during which the window is not seen, during that time, Bowman maneuvers the pod to the side of the ship.


Corrected entry: Early in this chapter of the film, we see Discovery has three EVA Pods (from HAL's view, left to right they are C-pod, B-pod and A-pod). When Poole is killed, we see he was using the center pod. Bowman then goes after Poole with A-pod. This leaves behind the C-pod. Bowman gets back aboard Discovery by blowing explosive bolts to release his pod's door. After Bowman deactivates HAL, we can presume he recovers the now-damaged A-pod he ejected from. It can only be placed in either the right or center pod locations, and as we learn in 2010, it is found sitting in its original right-side location. So to leave Discovery for the last time, Bowman must use the C-pod which is on the left, yet is shown emerging from the center doorway B-pod originally launched from.



Correction: Bowman must have made an EVA during the time he was alone on board, and opened the middle door on returning to the podbay. Mistakes are definite mistakes, not ones for which there is a reasonable explanation.


Corrected entry: The spacecraft Discovery has a rotating centrifuge-room that the astronauts use to avoid the detrimental effects of prolonged weightlessness. We see the rotation when Dave first enters the room and again later when he and Frank re-enter the room after inspecting the AE-35 Unit. But by Newton's laws the torque on the centrifuge must be countered by an equal anti-torque, so the surrounding body of the ship ought to be counter-rotating to conserve angular momentum.

Correction: The centrifuge began rotating in earth orbit. The counter-rotation would have been corrected by whatever structure holds the ship in place while being built. If this didn't happen, then the bad momentum would be stopped by discovery's roll-mode attitude thrusters.


Corrected entry: Towards the end of the movie where there are deep space shots of the planets, the spaceship and the sun, there is one shot where the sun is in the middle of several planetary objects. The objects closer to the viewer show crescent as they should due to the suns orientation to the planetary objects. On the far side of the sun however, the planetary objects also show crescent but shouldn't. They should show FULL or nearly full.

Correction: Those aren't planets. What we're being shown is Jupiter and its many moons. As such. all the objects you see on the screen are near the camera and being seen from the dark side. Which means they shouldn't be lit any more than a crescent shape.


Corrected entry: The transmission from Earth says that Discovery left three weeks previously, that transmissions take seven minutes and that the journey will take the better part of a year. The speed of light is 186,282 miles/sec. In seven minutes, light travels 78,238,440 miles so the movie statement that Discovery is 80,000,000 miles away from Earth is reasonable. To cover that distance in three weeks, the speed would be around 158,000 mph. To travel half a billion miles at that speed would take a mere nineteen weeks, not the "better part of a year.



Correction: It is absolutely clear from the reporter's intonation that he is asking Poole to speculate about what it is going to be like living with Bowman, HAL, etc for a year - the travel to Jupiter and their lengthy mission time once they get there, and the time spent on the return leg.

Corrected entry: HAL has complete control over the pods while they are outside the Discovery - he can even use one as a murder weapon. How, then, does he allow Bowman to steer a pod to the escape hatch? Why not just shoot him and the pod off into deep space?

Correction: This is a question, not a mistake. The pods obviously have a manual override.


Corrected entry: In the scene where we see the Moonbus landing at the Tycho Excavation Base, it's descent engines raise dust that billows rather than falling in an arc straight back to the ground as would normally be the case in a vacuum.



Correction: Previously posted and corrected. This is an accepted film technique, not a mistake. You cannot film in a vacuum.

Corrected entry: While Dave Bowman & Frank Poole are in the pod bay they lean against the workbench much as anyone would on Earth, yet the pod bay is a weightless environment.

Correction: Already posted and corrected. Microgravity doesn't paralyse your muscles. You'd lean on things just the way you do under normal gravity.

Corrected entry: Counter to a previous claim of factual error . In various scenes on both the Discovery spaceship and the Pod, angular momentum CAN be preserved without rotating the whole Discovery ship, as was claimed, if there were unseen counter-motions (as in a possible "sub floor" rotating in the opposite direction as the visible floor). The same principle can explain how the pod rotates without any visible thrust from, for example, gas jets. Rotation can be all mechanically achieved, with motors, and all angular momentum is preserved as the ship avoids appearing to rotate against the background stars.What we see is all plausibly accurate according to Newtonian Mechanics.

Correction: Good point, but this is a section for posting mistakes, not non-mistakes. If you are claiming that a previous post for a factual error is incorrect you would need to correct that submission, not post the correction as a mistake.


Corrected entry: If you take the letters in the computer's name (HAL), and then the next letter in the alphabet after each one, you get IBM. Stanley Kubrick denied it was on purpose but it is still kind of neat.

Correction: Arthur C. Clarke who wrote the book from the film also always and consistently denied this .

Corrected entry: In the famous scene where the ape throws a bone into the sky, in one shot the bone at first revolves anti-clockwise and then in the next shot, just before the jump cut to the shot of the spaceship, it now revolves clockwise.

Correction: As the background changes dramatically, it's obvious this is shot from the other side.


Corrected entry: In the beginning of the film where we see the ape-men, it looks as if they are wearing Converse All-Star type gym shoes that have been painted to look like feet. Perhaps the rocky terrain was too hard on the costumed actors' feet.

Correction: No shot clearly indicates this suggestion. A more specific scene description or timecode is needed to verify this claim as the 'Dawn of Man" sequence is 20 minutes long.


Corrected entry: When all the apes are gathering around the big block at the beginning of the film, look carefully at the sky. The clouds never move, not even slowly.



Correction: It's not that they NEVER move; they just don't appear to move within the few minutes we are watching, which is perfectly natural.


Corrected entry: When Dave recaptures Frank with the pod, one of Frank's legs is outside the pod's pincers, but when Dave releases Frank to reenter the ship, both legs are in the pincer. Seems a bit risky to try to get another grip in the vacuum of space...


Correction: Not at all. The other arm held Frank securely around the neck so that opening and re-grasping for both Frank's legs would be risk-free.


Corrected entry: The first time Dave is shown running around the room on the ship, in the roomwide shot he runs past the three hibernating crew, then the two empty beds. In the following chase shot on his back, he passes them in reverse order.


Correction: The scenes aren't necessarily continuous time, but a collage of shots of his exercise period. He even reverses direction between two of the shots so where the pair of sleeping crew was on his left, they are now on his right.


Corrected entry: On Discovery, artificial gravity is created by a spinning centrifuge. This is fine, but crew members are shown climbing a ladder into the center, where they are weightless. In reality, they would experience a quite large force perpendicular to the ladder. This is because they still have momentum from traveling with the floor of the centrifuge, but the speed of the higher steps is lower, and the speed in the center is zero.

Correction: True, but you are not taking all of the variables into consideration. Most importantly, how fast is the centrifuge spinning? We don't really know; they never say that the subjects standing at the bottom of the ladder are under full gravity; it may be a fraction of earth's gravity. Second, they take a few seconds to climb/descend the ladder, and they are bracing themselves from any sideways motion while on the trips up and down. Saying they would experience "quite a large force perpendicular to the ladder" is an asumption. It is also not a movie mistake, your statement would have to include both the amount of force that should be pushing them sideways and proof that they could not overcome the force by grasping the ladder rungs tightly.


Corrected entry: During the scene when the photographer is taking photographs of the scientists next to the monolith on the moon, a flying insect e.g. a fly or moth, can quite be briefly seen against the dark background of the monolith itself.

Correction: I just watched this scene twice, once in slow motion, and can see no such thing. Screenshot, please?

Corrected entry: In the scenes with the lunar shuttle and the lunar buggy, we see a swirling cloud of dust as they are touching down. The dust would only swirl around like this within an atmosphere; it would not do this on the airless moon.


Correction: Similar mistakes have been posted and corrected. This is an accepted film technique, not an error. You cannot film in a vacuum, even if you could find a studio big enough to have the air pumped out.

Corrected entry: The initial scene shows a desert with Brazilian tapirs grazing in the background. Tapirs have never been recorded living in any sort of desert, either through live sightings, secondary evidence, or fossil record.

Correction: Neither have apes, leopards or zebras. This is not a desert - it is tropical grassland which has been devastated by drought.

Corrected entry: In the montage of various Earth orbiting satellites, there is a shot of a device which is clearly illuminated mainly from underneath, whereas the Earth & Moon in the background are clearly lit from above.

Correction: That's because it is lit from underneath - by reflected light from the Earth, which is only a few hundred kilometres away. The Earth has a very high albedo and would reflect a huge amount of light onto the satellite.

Corrected entry: During the trip to the Moon, the spacecraft's captain makes a friendly call on his passenger, Dr. Floyd. Although they are weightless, the captain leans onto Floyd's chair under his full body weight.

Correction: Microgravity doesn't paralyse your muscles. Someone used to 'weightlessness' would be able to pose in such a manner simply by leaning at the right angle.

Corrected entry: At the beginning of the TMA-1 excavation scene, studio lights can be seen reflecting off the tops of the astronauts' helmets (note the position of the sun low on the horizon versus the camera's perspective).

Correction: Those are the reflections of the construction lights positioned to light the excavation, which are in shot, as they are intended to be.

Corrected entry: When Heywood Floyd was talking to his daughter on the video-phone, the camera at home was moving slightly (up, down and sideways) to follow the movements of the girl. In reality, the phone camera would have been in a fixed position.

Correction: I have a webcam with a motion sensor which follows me as I move, and a studio protected by CCTV cameras similarly equipped. Bog standard technology.

Corrected entry: There's a 'Floating Pen' on the PanAm shuttle when Dr. Floyd is sleeping. On the DVD, you can see the thread holding the pen when the camera quickly re-focuses from the stewardess to the pen. Just before the re-focus occurs, go to slo-mo and it's very obvious.


Correction: No it isn't, because a thread was not used. The pen was glued to a disc of glass which was slowly rotated, and a careful cut insterspersed when the stewardess plucks the pen out of the air.

Corrected entry: In the briefing room on the moon, folks are walking around normally with no apparent effects of the moon's weak gravity. Same for the group of men walking to the monolith in space suits.


Correction: This is an accepted film convention, not a mistake. Films like 'Red Planet' and 'Mission to Mars' were shot years after 2001 and had the advantage of much more advanced special effects techniques, but they didn't attempt to simulate Martian gravity. The same can be said of 'Pluto Nash', shot on a $100,000,000 budget and set on the moon but making no attempt to show the effects of lunar gravity.

Corrected entry: In the scene where Dave is replacing the AE35 unit at the antenna he is steadying himself only with his hand as he does his work. In reality every motion he made would have a equal opposite reactions so he would have been twisting in space and unable to do a basic task. He should be more firmly anchored to the antenna to be accurate.

Correction: The fact that he can manoevre towards the antenna mount while not tethered to the pod shows he has some form of steering in space, such as small reaction jets. These can be preset to overcome rotational motion of the body nowadays - Space Shuttle astronauts use them. No reason the crew of the Discovery can't be similarly equipped.

Corrected entry: When the scientists are on the moon and approaching the monolith, the lighting from the floodlights changes from shot to shot.

Correction: I have watched the scene over and over again - the lighting changes are caused by the rising sun and the changing position of the men as they walk down the ramp. The position of the floodlights is totally consistent throughout.

Corrected entry: When Floyd is going to make his call to his home, the image of the Earth or the Moon seen in the window behind him changes the way it circles from clockwise to anticlockwise.

Correction: The rotation of Earth in the windows does change direction between the telephone scene and another previous scene. But it doesn't change during the phone scene. I've checked & double-checked; it runs counter-clockwise the whole time.

Corrected entry: Dave Bowman parks the pod next to the emergency airlock and blows the door off by detonating the explosive bolts. Since the pod was full of air, the door ought to have been ejected into the airlock and become a rather hazardous projectile. But in the scene it's nowhere to be found. What became of it?

Correction: The explosive bolts are along one side of the door. It is blown sideways into the recess in the wall of the pod it is designed to close into during normal use. The fact that there was air inside the air lock makes absolutely no difference to this.

Corrected entry: Dave exited the ship for an EVA to replace the 'flawed' AE35 unit. Unfortunately, Dave would've received five times the lethal dose of radiation during that brief jaunt. This is typical when in that proximity to Jupiter. Even though Dr. Floyd says "they can't be exposed to that radiation for any longer than four minutes", they'd still die from it within a few weeks of that brief exposure.


Correction: Despite its attempts at authenticity, 2001 is still a science fiction film, and in its reality, Poole's space suit and helmet are made of some futuristic material that provides protection from radiation.

Corrected entry: The stewardess, in her 360-degree stroll to the control room aboard the spherical Aries lunar shuttle, is most certainly going through the wrong door, if you think about where the control room is relative to the rest of the interior (she should have been stepping through the access on the top of the set).

Correction: We do not know that as she exits the 'hallway' where she gets the meals, that she immediately enters the cockpit. There may have been corridors, or even another elevator or stairs, to get to the cockpit.

Corrected entry: As the Pan-Am shuttle is approaching the spinning space station there as a shot of it from within the hub based dock. The star filled background is spinning as it ought to, but the shuttle, which is not yet centered on the dock, is seen swinging across the sky independent of the background. To do this the craft would be tracing a spiral through space.

Correction: We see it comes from one side, swinging across to the other as it tries to line up directly in front of the target. This is like driving a car from across three lanes of traffic to tailgate a truck - you will likely swerve a little too far and have to correct your position once or twice. In 3 dimensions, plus a 4th dimension of moving space as they orbit the moon, this becomes triply difficult to do. So yes, they'd be tracing a spiral, but take a soda can and spin it while flipping it end-over-end, and visualize how the opening tab moves through space - a 3-D spiral.

Corrected entry: There is something drastically wrong with the design of the spherical 'Aries' moon shuttle. Some seats and many fixtures are 'upside down' relative to the up-down orientation of the shuttle itself, and we see loose food trays and equipment about the place as if this is routine. But - the shuttle is designed to land on the moon. What happens then? The moon has gravity, remember? There are going to be quite a few very disgruntled people dangling upside down like spiders, and there will be loose gear (and perhaps a stewardess or two) bouncing about all over the place. What a dumb design flaw.

Correction: The shuttle lands "on its back" with legs extending beyond the engines. As in most traditional sci-fi, and ALL actual, space flights to date, the launch (and landing) orientation for humans is to be on one's back. This minimizes blood being sucked down to your feet if you were sitting upright at launch - you could pass out. So we see this when the shuttle lands on the moon - the cockpit (red window) faces up (pilots on their backs, facing out the window). When we presume that the passenger cabin was 180 degrees spun around from the cockpit seating, they're still on their backs. Any loose objects would have been stowed before landing - the airlines don't lock down your bags, newspapers and coffee cups, right? They're loose in the cabin during flight, but put away on takeoff and landing.

Corrected entry: When Dave is trapped in the pod outside the ship and has to go through the airlock, the solution is impossible (and a real astronaut would have known that). The change in pressure between the pod and the vacuum of space would cause the body to explode without a pressure suit (including the helmet, which was missing). Also, the absolute zero temperature of space would have frozen Dave solid before he ever got the Discovery's door closed.

Mark Bernhard

Correction: The suggestion that a human body would immediately explode in a vacuum is a common fallacy. Nor would they immediately freeze solid - heat does not transfer away from a body particularly quickly, even in a very cold environment. NASA estimates that a human being could survive exposure to space for thirty seconds without suffering any lasting injury, provided that they didn't try to hold their breath - something that Bowman, as an astronaut, would be well aware of. His actions are quite plausible.


Corrected entry: On the moon shuttle after Dr. Floyd, Dr. Halvorsen, and Bill look at pictures and eat their sandwiches, Bill serves coffee with no regard for the weak gravity. Very dangerous.


Correction: There's nothing dangerous about it. Under one sixth gravity the coffee would behave almost the same as it would on earth. For someone used to such gravity conditions it would pose no danger at all. It's only in orbit under 'zero-gravity' that liquids are dangerous.

Corrected entry: 2001 is the only space-based film that correctly portrays 'space' as a soundless vacuum. No whooshes, no THX explosions...

Correction: Actually, this is a common misconception. There are at least two other space movies which accurately omit sound effects in the vacuum of space: Destination Moon and Moon Zero Two.

Corrected entry: In the zero-G sequence of the shuttle approaching the moon Dr. Floyd is served a meal in a zero-G tray with straws. While Dr. Floyd sips through the straws to eat from the zero-G food tray, the food puree falls back down the straws into the tray wells (leaving them "clear") after he finishes sipping, an effect of gravity. In zero-G, the food puree should remain visible in the straw, and not fall.

Correction: Current packages designed for consuming liquids in space, have a minor vaccuum in the container and a valve to maintain it in the straw, to keep the liquid from escaping. I see no reason they wouldn't have them in that future.

Grumpy Scot

Corrected entry: How could there be dust clouds when the lunar probes land when there is such a thin atmosphere on the moon? It happens twice when Dr. Floyd is going to check out the monolith.

Correction: There isn't a thin atmosphere on the moon - there is no atmosphere. The dust is stirred up by the exhaust of the landing rockets on the shuttle. True, it doesn't behave exactly as it would on the moon, but this is an accepted film convention, not a mistake. You can't film in a vacuum.

Corrected entry: When David Bowman is travelling through the space portal, many streaks of light can be seen passing him on both sides yet when we see David Bowman himself, the streaks are reflected in his helmet and they don't seem to be moving at all.

Correction: The reflections in the helmet are of the instruments inside the pod, which we see again after the pod has stopped in the room.

Corrected entry: When troubleshooting the AE-35 unit in the pod bay, the unit is resting on a console, unsecured. The unit should float, since the pod bay doesn't possess artificial gravity, only the main living space does.

Correction: Magnets, velcro, Blutac, double sided sticky tape, adhesive coating on the console ... there are a hundred different methods of securing loose equipment in a microgravity environment. Think the designers of The Discovery didn't think of just one of them?

Corrected entry: In the scene where Bowman is attempting to force entry into the Discovery by using the pod's robotic arm to manually open the exterior door, the error is that the force needed to turn the door opener in a weightless environment should have twisted the pod in the opposite direction as it wasn't physically locked to the mother ship anywhere else by the other arm.

Correction: We see the arm opening the hatch in close ups. We don't see the rest of the pod. As the pod is not spinning, there must be something keeping it stable such as the pod's thrusters firing or a powerful gyroscope.

Grumpy Scot

Corrected entry: Poole takes a pod out to replace AE35. We see this pod spinning off into space. Bowman takes pod 2 out to retrieve Poole. He eventually blows the door to get back inside Discovery. There is no indication that he bothers retrieving this pod: He is occupied with HAL. Bowman takes pod 3 to check out Stargate. He and the pod are sucked in. So where did pod 4 come from in the movie 2010?

Correction: Since you refer to the sequel "2010", Let me point out that in that movie they allude to the fact that Dave Bowman Also jettisoned the bodies of the three dead crew members who were in hibernation (which we never saw him do...) They go on to say that he continued on with his mission to Jupiter after he disconnected HAL's higher brain functions. So since we know all this, isn't it plausible that he retrieved the pod after taking care of HAL?

Corrected entry: In the scene where Dave is going into the room to shut down HAL, he is wearing his space suit and his sleeve becomes unattached from his glove when he is opening the door. This would be lethal, given that HAL messed up the pressure and drained the oxygen.

Correction: I got the impression he was wearing his suit just in case HAL depressurized, not because he already had. If HAL had depressurized the ship, Dave would have been dead by this point because he would not have been able to repressurize the airlock and get a spare helmet. Further, it seems unlikely that HAL would have the ability to depressurize the ship on his own, crazy or not.

Grumpy Scot

Corrected entry: There is a scene where one of the astronauts is drinking out of a juice box in space (zero gravity). When he is done drinking from the straw the juice falls back down the straw as if there was gravity.

Correction: The juice was sucked up due to the difference in air pressure caused by sucking on the straw. As such, when he stops sucking, the juice is sucked back into the carton.

Corrected entry: When the ship's computer and one of the crew members are playing chess, the computer stated a mate in 2, which is not true. It's mate in 3.

Correction: This actually is an intentional mistake. This error is showing that HAL is starting to fail. If you notice that the whole thing is so complicated that it's hard for the crew member to figure it out so he believes it to be a victory for HAL.

Corrected entry: When they try to hide from HAL, Dave comments that there is a malfunction in the "C" pod. HAL should protest because it doesn’t detect anything wrong, but it doesn’t say anything.

Correction: HAL is already suspicious of the pilots, obvious from the fact that he reads their lips through the window of the pod. Perhaps he ignores this lie in order to learn of their plans.