China Focus: The Wandering Earth II kindles sci-fi enthusiasm among audiences
The sci-fi blockbuster "The Wandering Earth II" has not only raked in a whopping box office, but also aroused much attention on science and technologies that appeared in the movie, including space elevators, quantum computers, and nuclear fusions.
China's movie box office revenue reached nearly 6.76 billion yuan (about 999.6 million U.S. dollars) during the Spring Festival holiday from Jan. 21 to 27, according to the China Film Administration.
"The Wandering Earth II" ranked second among six domestic titles released during the holiday, claiming a revenue of 2.16 billion yuan.
"I'm impressed by the technologies rendered in the movie, particularly the space elevators that send people to space," said Wu Kexin, 14, after watching the movie together with her mom and sister in a theater in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province.
The key to realizing space elevators is to find a super-strong material that can be used as the elevator cable. The material needs to maintain good performance when exposed to harsh conditions in space, said Guan Qingfang, an associate research fellow at the University of Science and Technology of China, when asked about the feasibility of this technology.
It might be long before space elevators could actually become reality. Still, the discussion of this technology itself reflects the ambition of, and charts the course for, mankind in the research and development of material science, according to Guan.
To escape the harm of a rapidly burning sun, humans in the movie try to build about 10,000 massive engines powered by nuclear fusions to propel the earth to a place far from damaging solar flares.
Nuclear fusion, the process of reuniting two light atomic nuclei to form a heavier one, can generate so much energy that "it makes sense in principle to use this energy to propel the earth," commented Wang Teng, who has been researching nuclear fusion energy for many years in the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Scientists working on fusion energy mainly focus on deuterium-tritium fusion reaction since it is much easier to be realized than heavy nuclei fusion portrayed in the sci-fi movie.
Great achievements have been made in the field of fusion energy after over 70 years of efforts by mankind. "It is still too early to talk about the prospect of propelling the earth by fusion energy, but it is highly possible to power a light with this energy in the near future," said Wang.
Over the past week, topics related to "The Wandering Earth II" have been trending on Weibo, a popular Twitter-like social media platform in China, one after another. Many audiences show great interest in the details and technologies in the movie.
A number of scientists and researchers joined online discussions to analyze and explain the possibilities of relevant technologies in the movie, including moon rovers, space elevators, Internet root servers, quantum computers, and underground city life.
Wang Yuanzhuo, a research fellow at the Institute of Computing Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, even drew pictures to explain the science and technology theories shown in the movie to the young audience in simple language.
"I have received many questions from my daughter and other kids concerning the movie recently," Wang Yuanzhuo wrote on Weibo, who is also the movie's science consultant. "Discussions on the blockbuster not only demonstrate support for domestic movies but also give more people a chance to get to know relevant sci-tech knowledge behind the movie."
As the movie sparked huge sci-fi interest from audiences, products featuring the movie have become a craze in China, too.
A crowdfunding project was launched by a Chinese culture and media company on the e-commerce platform Taobao, aiming to produce peripheral products like robotic dog models and USB flash disks after the movie was aired. More than 433,000 orders have been placed by Monday noon, raising over 100 million yuan, much more than the original goal of 100,000 yuan.
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