The Science Behind I Am Legend - A useful article for...

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i am legend grass I Am Legend's Junk Science: Hollywood Sci-Fi vs. Reality BY ERIN MCCARTHY In the new blockbuster I Am Legend , virologist Robert Neville (Will Smith) is the sole survivor of a man-made plague that has wiped out all of humankind--and turned those who didn't die into creepy, vampire-like mutants. Between a highly regimented schedule hunting deer in Times Square with his dog, Sam, and swinging a five-iron from atop a naval cruiser, Neville tries to find a way to reverse the virus using his own immune blood even as the Infected are closing in, setting traps and hunting him. But how much of this sure-to-be blockbuster Hollywood film (based on a famous sci-fi novel) is fact, and how much is fiction? We consult experts in the fields of structural engineering, virology and wildlife to determine what could happen--and what certainly won't. The Urban Jungle Legend paints post-apocalyptic New York City as an urban jungle being replaced by actual jungle, with plants sprouting up through cracks in the sidewalks and a veritable field of waist-high grass in Times Square. So is this what would really happen if civilization ended? According to Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us , which analyzes how long man-made structures would survive if humans were to one day vanish from the face of the Earth, the answer is both yes and no. "You'd certainly have a lot of plants growing up through cracks in the sidewalk," Weisman says. "After three years, you might see some weeds that have made it waist-high in abandoned lots up in the Bronx, but if they're showing a waist-high field of grass in Times Square, that's a bit of a stretch." So what would we see after three years of no activity in New York? Gutters clogged by leaf litter, formerly cleared by the city's maintenance staff, would be a breeding ground for weeds and trees, Weisman says, and streets would flood because, after each rain, the sewers would be clogged with natural matter and plastic bags. Subway tunnels would flood in just two days and, in the absence of firemen, lightning strikes and gas line explosions would cause fires, leaving some buildings charred. Buildings three years into a post-automotive New York would also look substantially greener. "With
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2010 for the course FILM R 1A.0 taught by Professor Kathygeritz during the Fall '10 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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The Science Behind I Am Legend - A useful article for...

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