CO2 – The Most Poisonous Gas Imaginable

I went to see Prometheus.

Flawed in the characterisation, dialogue and plot department, but visually spectacular, and I’d see it again in a heartbeat (in a less arse-gratingly painful chair).

Amongst the many forgiveable leaps of scientific imagination, we’re asked to accept, early on, that an atmospheric concentration of CO2 of 3% will cause death to human beings within 2 minutes (I thought I may have misremembered, but other fanboi postings seem to bear it out).

Now this is utter balls, but for me, it’s more annoying than the other flights of fancy. Why?

  1. It’s a fact that’s trivial to check, and trivial to get right. 3% at 2 minutes isn’t anywhere close to correct
  2. There are other very much more poisonous gases that could be referred to. Why even pick CO2?

In an environment where almost any genuinely deadly chemical would be plausible, and where a credulous audience is also willing to accept mutant generating broth, setting the essential trace gas CO2 up as the bad guy just looks like artfully inserted propaganda.

By coincidence, Prometheus makes several appearances in other related fields, whether it’s as Prometheus, or asĀ Prometheus,