One hint is when the author notes that acceleration happens much more quickly during the few short shots when the speedometer is visible, i.e. the acceleration is much quicker compared to the assumed linear acceleration in-between those shots.
It would be an interesting project to analyse the sequence of shots and figure out which ones overlapped by how much, to make the time/distances/accelerations work out.
You're probably right it's not all real time. I figured it wasn't completely unreasonable to treat it as such because when you watch it, most of it does feel RT and we pretty much see everything that happens in an uninterrupted way.
But for the sake of argument, even if the analysis is skewed a bit, it does suggests they were missing a lot of tracks. So if some of the sequence can be considered RT and some of it not, for them to reach the 88 mph in under 3 miles, probably a lot of it would need to be non-RT, which didn't feel right to me based on the way it's presented in the movie.
Totally agree it would be awesome to be able to figure out what overlaps. Thanks for the comment!
Normally, you compress time to a greater or lesser degree because you just don't need to see every single action that someone takes in the course of a given hour or event. Like you point out in the Python clip, you wouldn't normally shoot the entirety of a guy running across a long field. You'd show him start running, cut to a closer shot with him making progress, cut to the person/place he's running toward for reaction or to re-establish the destination, and then cut back to the guy as he's getting there.
When you drag these kinds of things out, it can be a good gag because it's almost like a bad storyteller who includes every irrelevant detail. It makes us uncomfortable and throws off timing. In a more tense scene, time is often screwy because maybe you want to drag things out and show all of the characters' reactions to create anxiety and the feeling that "they'll never make it".
Anyway, thanks for the reminder about the Python bit. Always makes me smile :)
The art of cinema is to pull people inside in a story that is generally mostly fiction. It's like deception by definition: you only offer the viewer enough pieces of an alternate reality to help his imagination get started and do the rest. The point of that exercise is to tell a story, and pulling the viewer into the reality of the film is just a tool in presenting that story. There is no point making the film's reality more realistic other than to be able to suggest it to the majority of viewers as a plausible setting for the story.
The train scene is a typical timed action scene. It's enough to repeatedly show an increasing velocity reading, similarly to how you might show a countdown timer in a bomb-defusing scene. The point of flashing those gauges or numbers every now and then during the scene is to increase excitement and tension, which I'm sure the original author well understands. Assuming the movie is in wallclock time could turn out to be a fun exercise but in this case it did not because the timing analysis just ended up pointing out an irrelevant detail in the movie that was never even designed to be coherent. So, the discovery is not fun in itself, it doesn't add anything to the movie experience, and thus wouldn't really be worth much attention.
I don't think anyone is upset over this. It's just a fun exercise.
Sorry Fun Police, but you don't get to decide what's fun for everyone. This wasn't a movie review, and if you're not interested in people enjoying trying to decide if a completely impossible concept (a car from 1985 traveling through time) would have worked within the reality constructed by the movie, then feel free to skip down to the next HN story.
Reading, then commenting on, a story which is self described to be on a topic you have no interest in, can be considered nothing more than trolling.
More than you ever wanted to know about locomotive suspensions.
> we assume events occur in real-time
this is completely unwarranted and invalidates the rest of the analysis.
Perhaps time and gravity are related in a manner that means as an object travels through time it maintains position relative to gravitational influences (and local ones affect it far more than others due to the inverse-square relationship) and maybe the effect is strong enough on each part of the travelling body that it maintains orientation relative to those gravitation influences too (so the car not only stays on the road but conveniently wheels-down as well).
1. Write yourself a note to keep a jerry can in the Delorean, put it on your person.
2. Set destination time back by a week.
3. Marty gets in Delorean and Doc pushes it off of cliff.
4. Next of kin and Marty read note given to them at the morgue.
5. Plot of BttF 3 evaporates.
Edit: This is too complicated. Just visit Western Union again and send a second letter about the jerry can.
Edit 2: Wait, there should be a 2nd Delorean in 1885 after Marty arrives. So Doc's Delorean should have some fuel unless Doc was joy-riding. I'm really not thinking 4th dimensionally.
Edit: Unless the time machine was capable of visiting parallel universes.
1. Marty leaves timeline to go to 2015
2. Marty meets Marty-F in the 2015
3. Marty returns to 1985 and grows up to be Marty-F.
Of course this means that he knew, but that's okay.
In order for Marty to go to the future and see himself, he'd need to continue to exist in 1985 somehow. I'm not sure how to reconcile him getting into the DeLorean with Doc and yet simultaneously going back into his house to live the rest of his life normally.
A parallel universe seems like the only way for this to work, despite adding a bunch of extra complexity. It also conveniently allows old Marty to be unaware (to some extent) of young Marty's visit, because old Marty would have lived a life where he didn't take that trip.
This is something I've mentally struggled with since the second film came out. His leaving 1985 temporally is an exit event; he ceases to exist in his own timeline. The only explanation I could come up with is that he does indeed visit an alternate timeline where Doc never created the time machine and therefore Marty never goes back in time to "fix" his father's resolve. There are hints about that; Old Marty is still unsure of himself and allows his boss to run all over him, his son took on his and his father's bad traits, etc. The only way this works is if Doc is unable to visit the same timeline going forward, and can only do so going backwards. The problem becomes, if every forward time travel event leads to an alternate timeline (as is necessary for existential reasons), and any changes made to his own past timeline also cause a new timeline to branch off, why is Doc so worried about fixing the past in order to fix the future? They aren't his past and future anymore, just ones he created by traveling through time in the first place.
Is it possible that an inventor brilliant enough to have built a time machine doesn't subscribe to the parallel-realities hypothesis, and is unaware of how his invention really works? We'd need to answer this question to get to why Doc Brown cares so much.
They did that all after he got back. He left and returned at the same point, so from the perspective of an observer outside his timeline he was never actually gone.
Why? They could travel to the future, meet their future selves, then travel back to the past, live their lives and in the future meet their time-travelling selves.
 By predeterministic I'm thinking of something like Crichton's Timeline, where the characters visit the past not to change it but to fulfil it (i.e. there is no rewriting or branching, their existence in the past is a constant).
† Because the propagation would be occurring in sec/sec, the units cancel, so it's just a number -- I jest, those aren't the same 'seconds' unit, you you see the point.
He put flying car parts into it. Why the hell would he want some lousy electric motors?
I think the author is referring to the fact that then the Mr. Fusion could also have powered the vehicle while driving around on land. Perhaps flying would still be impossible without magical alternative-2015 fuel/parts, but at least you'd be mobile on land in almost any situation.
Besides why didn't old-doc just post a letter to future-doc and get him to bury some plutonium in the desert in the past. Then old doc goes and collects the plutonium and goes-back-to-the-future and collects the letter and goes back to 1785 and burys some plutonium in the desert, then goes-back-to-the future .. my brain hurts ...