The Radar Fallacy

So, I mentioned The Octonauts in a previous post and I still think it is brilliant however there is another scientific flaw I have noticed. The Octopod’s Radar system seems to have the tv / film fallacy (it’s not a real fallacy, I made it up).
When a radar turns it discovers the position, as a distance and direction, from the radar. There are many types but they all work roughly the same. For a radar system to update the position of an object it must turn through the space where that object is. The radar sweep line on the Octonauts display turns at about 30 rpm meaning that the position of the decorator crab would jump every 2 seconds as it gets scanned. However, the position of the crab as marked by the blip on the screen moves smoothly even while the radar sweep is well away from the crab. This could, of course, be because of an auxiliary system that is not mentioned in the show.
I am sure there are films and tv shows where the radar has a finite refresh time but the movement of planes are smooth. Time to start looking at radar shots more closely!


The kid’s tv show Octonauts is brilliant. Let me explain.
Most other children’s shows have something wrong with them. A character or object or plot device which pushes the boundaries of imagination too much, here are some examples:
Bob the builder: a scarecrow that is alive, the character Spud. I’m fine with the vehicles talking and being able to drive themselves but a sentient scarecrow is too much.
Postman Pat: the village has a much higher proportion of ginger kids than anywhere in real life, apart from occasional villages in Scotland. Also these kids all seem to have colds and so speak with blocked nasal passages. Perhaps all these children were fathered by Pat.
Postman Pat SDS: Pat is turned from a competent postman to the world’s most incompetent delivery man. If something can go wrong it does. The economic model for this type of delivery is unsustainable.
Chuggington: a world of sentient trains doesn’t bother me too much but there are some physics issues. The trains get washed by resting on tracks that then turn the train longitudinally so it ends up being horizontal, not good. Another problem is the small train which can extend on a cantilever and turn its body to face the other way, don’t like this. I am quite happy with the flying train though.
Everything’s Rosie: the characters are annoying and whinge a lot. The carts they drive around in have no appreciable power source and don’t slow going up hill. Although I’m happy with Oakly who can speak I don’t like the female speaking tree, Saffy, as she just spouts Eastern mystical bollocks all the time.
Mr Bloom’s Nursery would be ok if it didn’t have the talking, singing, moving vegetables with faces. Surely there is enough excellent entertainment and learning that can be garnered from a gardening show that doesn’t need anthropomorphised vegetables. The McGregors are particularly annoying.

So back to the Octonauts . The main characters are animals who talk and are curiously the same size. They don’t wear ballast and have magic “field tech” helmets. The Octopod would need to be pressurised a huge amount for the depths they travel to and they even have Tunip, a half vegetable half animal called a vegimal. Somehow all of this is acceptable as the stories are excellent and consistent and it just looks marvellous. All  the creatures the Octonauts find are real and look, act and eat the way they do in real life. Marvellous.
I think it’s one of the best things on TV at the moment.

Explore, Rescue, Protect.