7. Unobtanium Is Real! Almost
The reason for the human characters be so far from home in the Alpha Centauri star system, is the mining company, The Resources Development Administration’s off-world prospecting for an impossibly rare mineral called ‘Unobtanium’. This is the scarce and mysterious substance which has made deep space travel possible. However the name of this macguffin does not come from the mind of writer James Cameron, but is a long used term in engineering.
Back in the 1950s, aerospace engineers coined the phase when talking about the perfect material for their project. This material could be very rare, very expensive or not even in existence. Engineers would include Unobtanium in their dream projects where, if only they had this one extra element, anything would be possible. The term is still used today to refer to rare earths, such a neodymium used in mobile phones.
Avatar was not even the first film make to use of unobtanium, that honour goes to the 2006 disaster movie The Core, where the hull of the craft sent on a deep drilling mission to reignite the titular earths core, was also made from Unobtanium.