Ghostbusters - When would the containment unit have failed?
March 29, 2015 8:10 AM   Subscribe

So in Ghostbusters, Walter Peck orders the power to the containment unit shut off. This releases the ghosts, ushers in the apocalypse, dogs & cats, big twinkie, etc.

Thing is, the containment unit doesn't seem to have any back-up power. The Con-Ed guy cuts the power and the unit immediately shuts down. That seems to imply that any power loss of more than a few seconds would have had the same result.
Assuming a start date of Jan 1, 1985 (we'll give them a year to catch all those ghosts) when was the first power outage that would have shut down the grid?
The blackout of 2003 would have certainly done the job, but there must have been shorter blackouts before then, right? Did Walter Peck have a point?
posted by Eddie Mars to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
He orders the containment grid shut down, which to me would also mean shutting off any back up power, surely. This may have been done before the shot we see, so I don't think you can assume no back up power being present necessarily.
posted by Brockles at 8:57 AM on March 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

Just some loose Googling around says that, yeah, the 2003 blackout appears to have been the last major NYC blackout since 1977. That's not to say there couldn't have been a very localized outage of the Ghostbusters' city block, but you probably won't easily find those kinds of records via Google.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:48 AM on March 29, 2015

Eddie Mars: "but there must have been shorter blackouts before then, right?"

It's conceivable there were momentary hiccups in the power supply that weren't reported in the news media, but no, there were no citywide blackouts between 1977 and 2003. (When blackouts happen in NYC, it's Major News. They are so rare because all the power lines are buried.) There was a power outage in Queens in 2006, but the Ghostbusters' firehouse is definitely in Manhattan.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:48 AM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Depending on exactly where the firehouse was, there was a fairly big blackout in lower Manhattan in 1990. But I second Brockles, if I was ordered to shut a thing down, I'd find the disconnect switch AFTER the backup power supply, if there is one, so we can't tell from that scene that there isn't.
posted by FishBike at 9:59 AM on March 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you imagine they had a big UPS (uninterruptible power supply) in front of the containment grid, then that would protect against blackouts and would be the one big switch that gets turned off.

If I switch off my little UPS for my Mac, the Mac goes off instantly.
posted by BinaryApe at 10:06 AM on March 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: According to the Ghostbusters Wiki (who knew there was such a thing?), the firehouse is located at 110 N. Moore Street. That's not too far from the location of the 1990 blackout that FishBike mentions.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:45 AM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Point of correction:
Wrong end of the street, it's on 14 N.Moore Street.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 10:45 AM on March 30, 2015

Oh.. ok
On closer inspection according to Venkman's Business card It is indeed 110 in canon. But it was filmed at 14.
Or Dr Venkman put the wrong (non-existent) address on there to mess with people.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 10:54 AM on March 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

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