Projectile Precision

Why is it that giant meteor impacts in the movies always strike major urban areas? And not just any city, either --- disaster always homes in on highly recognizable international landmarks. The odds against that are astronomical. (pun intended!)

In the same vein, why does a hero, down to a single bullet in a pistol, always hit the target perfectly --- while villains armed with machine-guns can spray a room full of people and not injure anyone? And broadening the question, how can all the principal characters in a story come together with exquisite timing at the climax --- when the slightest perturbation at a thousand earlier moments would inevitably destroy that synchronization?

Yeah, maybe you've gotta grant the author some SuspensionOfDisbelief (see ^zhurnal 20 May 2000) ... but how much? The classic science-fictional guideline is that a tale is allowed one impossible assumption. Everything else has to follow logically, based on known laws of nature. Too many impossibilities and you've got fantasy, not science fiction. But are there degrees of "impossibility"? If so, how to quantify them?

TopicHumor - TopicLiterature - TopicScience - 2003-08-20

(correlates: FactorAndFactotum, ElusivePimpernel, BarryLawsAndPrecepts, ...)