5 Weird Ways Real Life Ripped Off Movies And TV Shows
Until someone instructs you to dial a phone number beginning with “555” you can likely be reasonably sure that you live in the real world and not a work of fiction. Sometimes though, plot elements invented for movies and TV shows make their way into our reality, thanks to humanity’s ingenuity/crippling addiction to pop culture, such as how …
Silicon Valley’s Fake “Weissman Score”, Is Being Used In Real Research
Silicon Valley is, of course, the HBO comedy about a nerdy tech guy who invents a world-changing data compression algorithm – and perfects it thanks to a conversation about jerking off an auditorium full of strangers, which we’re pretty sure is also how Google got started too.
Lest their dick-jerking calculations seem to be anything other than perfect, the producers behind the show turned to “actual Stanford professor Tsachy Weissman and then-PhD student Vinith Misra” to come up with Pied Piper’s fictional algorithm and the metric by which it could be measured against other fictional algorithms.
Even though the algorithm itself “isn’t possible with today’s technology,” the formula for its evaluation, known as “the Weissman Score,” is a totally legit equation and has been subsequently adopted by researchers, who believe it to be a “valuable metric.” Some academics have adopted it for classes without informing students that it was entirely from a show that used to air after Game of Thrones. It was even used by Dropbox.
The CIA Tried To Copy James Bond’s Gadgets
Suave secret agent and unhinged maniac James Bond probably would have been shot, stabbed, or devoured by sharks long ago if not for his impressive arsenal of high-tech gadgets; from exploding pens to garotte wristwatches, to literal boomboxes, because 1987.
While you might think that these wacky gizmos were inspired by the creations of actual intelligence agencies, it was actually the other way around. Reportedly, back in the 1950s, the head of the CIA, Allen Dulles, was obsessed with the literary exploits of 007 and eventually met with author Ian Fleming. As a result of their friendship, Fleming began portraying American spies in a more “favorable” light, while Dulles had the CIA “experiment with Bond-style technology” – which included actually creating the “poison-tipped dagger shoes” from From Russia With Love.
They also tried to create Bond’s Aston Martin-housed tracking device from Goldfinger but couldn’t quite figure out the technology since “the device really didn’t work very well when the enemy got into a crowded city.”
We’re guessing that prescribing agents a steady diet of grain alcohol and unprotected sex with hundreds of random strangers also didn’t yield super-great results.
The Mafia Began Acting Like Characters From The Godfather
With the possible exception of squeamish horses, pretty much everybody loves The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola’s epic tale of the Corleone crime family. For many of us, it’s hard to separate our perception of the real mafia from what we saw in The Godfather – or for those of us who grew up in the ‘90s, what we saw in several episodes of Animaniacs.
But it turns out that even actual mobsters began taking their cues from Coppola’s 1972 film. Yup, apparently “generations” of those in organized crime looked to The Godfather for “inspiration, validation and as a playbook for how to speak and act and dress” and often played the theme music “at parties and weddings.”
According to one mobster’s widow, after the movie came out, her husband and his associates began “kissing and hugging even more than they did before” while quoting “lines from the movie.” And Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano took life lessons from Vito Corleone’s treatment of Sonny, even cribbing dialogue verbatim. In the ‘90s, mobsters started sending severed horse heads as threats – and craziest of all, before Mario Puzo’s novel, the term “Godfather” had “no underworld connotations.”
Harry Potter’s Marauder's Map Was Recreated By Engineers (And Could Save Lives)
Harry Potter’s “Marauder's Map” is, of course, the enchanted piece of parchment that allows the boy wizard to see the footsteps of whoever is nearby at all times, thus helping him to sneak around Hogwarts undetected – and also, presumably, see when his classmates and teachers are on the toilet (he was still a teenage boy, after all).
Engineers at Carnegie Mellon recreated the effect of the Marauder's Map in real life by installing devices that can sense vibrations on the floor – which, coupled with “machine learning algorithms” that filter out “background noise created by other objects and machinery,” allow them to track people’s footsteps on a screen that is almost certainly not made of an old scrap of paper.
While the project was inspired by Harry Potter, this could have positive applications in the real world (unlike many aspects of Harry Potter these days). In the agricultural sector, this tech is already allowing “farmers in Thailand to monitor the state of their livestock.” And in health care settings, it could detect “changes in a person’s movement,” which might “provide an early warning of a heart attack, stroke, or whether they may be about to experience a fall.” And if it’s not too much trouble, flying broomsticks probably couldn’t hurt either.
So Many Inventions Came Out Of Watching Star Trek
While some of us merely watched Star Trek for the drama, humor, and scantily-clad aliens, others mined the iconic depiction of Earth’s future for lucrative, potentially world-changing ideas. Like the cell phone, which was invented after engineer Martin Cooper saw Captain Kirk use his communicator on TV. So the next time you make an important call or, let’s be honest, read a Cracked article on the toilet, know that you have William Shatner to thank.
Similarly, the creator of the MP3 “conceived of the idea of the digital music file” after watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which Data listens to music through the computer – probably because cracking the MP3 was way easier than figuring out how the hell to build an android with a positronic brain.
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Thumbnail: Warner Bros./MGM