One of the great things about Netflix's extremely popular series Stranger Things is the details. Set in the 1980s, the show is incredibly faithful to the actual look and feel of the era from the clothes, the furnishings, the vernacular, and even the stores in the Starcourt Mall in Season 3 -- we see you, Waldenbooks. However, there's one detail that it seems like the show missed, as noticed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Before we get to the call out, a bit of explanation (and, warning, spoilers for Season 3 of Stranger Things beyond this point.) In the third season of Stranger Things, Hawkins police chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) infiltrate a secret Russian base located beneath the Starcourt Mall and, pretty much to save the world, have to close a gate to the Upside Down that the Russians have opened. However, in order to do that, they have to open a safe containing the two keys needed for gate closure. To get to those keys? They need a very specific code -- Planck's constant. Without getting too into the complex science of things, Planck's constant -- as named for physicist Max Planck -- is an important value, the quantum of electromagnetic action which relates the energy carried by a photon to its frequency. No, we don't expect you to fully understand that. What you need to know is that the version of Planck's constant on Stranger Things is technically correct -- in 2014, not in 1985.
"A bunch of us finished the third season and we're delighted that it used the Planck constant as a plot element," Ben Stein, managing editor of NIST's public affairs office told Yahoo Lifestyle. "We listened to the value used in the show and realized it was actually the 2014 recommended value, not the one that would be available in 1985."
Wait, what? You see, as science and technology advance so does the ability to take better measurements of things which is the case with Planck's constant. While the "true" value of the constant has never changed, man's ability to measure it with better and better accuracy has. That means that the 6.62607004 given in the show is a "better" measurement than what would have been available in 1985. That value? 6.626176. And the 2014 measurement isn't even the most updated one. It was updated again in 2018 to 6.62607015.
The use of a more "modern" value for Planck's constant isn't the only little continuity error eagle-eyed fans can spot in Stranger Things, though. Earlier this week, box office tracking account on Twitter Exhibitor Relations noticed a mistake in a scene in which Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) are enjoying M&Ms only for there to be red candy pieces in the mix. The issue there? Red M&M's weren't available in 1985 as the color had been pulled from the combination due to panic over FD&C Red No. 2 in the mid-1970s. Orange candies replaced the red, which didn't return to the package until 1987 -- two years after Season 3 of Stranger Things takes place.
Stranger Things Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.
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