The Science behind Thor's Hammer - Reel or UnReal Episode 5
Introduction – Montage of video clips of the Great Orbax. Orbax is middle aged, bald with a ponytail at the back. A long curling moustache and a goatee. He is wearing a 3-piece grey plaid suit, with a lab coat, sometimes old motorcycle goggles. He is situated in a Physics lab at the University of Guelph and speaks directly into the camera.
Video clips show Orbax, putting on his lab coat and goggles. Running experiments in his lab with electricity, models, and beakers. Visuals end on the words Reel or UnReal.
Orbax is standing in the lab with a book in his hand, behind a lab table.
[Orbax on screen] Oh, hi there. I’m the great Orbax from the department of Physics at the University Guelph. We’re going to explore the science of pop culture as we see what’s Reel or Unreal.
What powers Thor's hammer? So how does Thor shoot lightning? Well, with Mjollnir of course!
Visuals: Throughout the video graphics appear on the left hand side of the frame. They include images, gifs and video clips from the Marvel Thor movies and comic books. Additional graphics explain some of the science to do with lightening, electricity and energy. Graphic effects add lightening to Orbax at the lab table throughout, where he holds up the hammer and lightening shoots across the frame.
[Orbax on screen] OK.
But it's a little bit more than that.
You see, our story starts far beyond the clouds in Asgard where Thor, son of Odin, brother of Loki, whiles his time away getting different various haircuts for whichever movie he's about to star in. But let's go back to that land beyond the clouds and actually look at the clouds.
You see, it turns out the inside of a thunder cloud is actually a pretty violent place. It has incredibly fast
Asgard work, but...
The result is a lot of smashing together of ice crystals and water droplets.
And not unlike when you walk across a carpet and you pull up all that static charge or when I turn on this Van de Graaff generator.
Visuals: the Van de Graaff generator is lab equipment that charges energy. It has a solid silver spherical ball that when you touch it for a period of time will make your hair static and stand on its end.
This motion and these collisions actually strip electrons from these particles.
[Orbax on screen] And what ends up happening is the heavier, denser particles move towards the bottom and the lighter particles just sort of drift up towards the top, giving you these two distinct regions within the same cloud; a positively charged upper region and a negatively charged bottom of the cloud.
So here's the thing. Nothing wants to carry unbalance charge, whether it's a cloud or Dr. Massa’s hair. I'm so scared right now.
The clouds are just putting out these things called negative leaders. They're highly ionized gas channels that reach out towards the ground. Now the ground is this massive wealth of positive charge which starts sending things out called upward streamers.
When these two connect, charge floods the crooked, janky lightning bolt-shape region of space with 30,000 amps of current. super heat the air to temperatures around 30,000 degrees Celsius which is six times the surface of the sun.
And not only that, the air burns up in a super hot plasma that we see as lightning. Meanwhile, the explosive expansion of the heated air creates a shockwave which is what we hear as thunder.
There are many theories on Thor's hammer about the Uru metal is comprised of and what it can and can't do. And it's even actually become canon in the comics that it can emit graviton.
But here's the thing, regardless of its makeup, if Thor's hammer is actually going to attract lightning, it needs to become a more immediate and attractive path of charge to flow than the Earth itself.
So can you redirect lightning into some kind of usable power? And the short answer is yes.
Many people think of a story of one night in 1752, when Benjamin Franklin tied a key to a kite and waited for lightning to strike it. I like to think of a story in 1891 when Nikola Tesla created the Tesla Coil, much like the one that I have here.
Visuals: The Tesla Coil is lab equipment that generates electricity. Orbax holds up a wand, and turns on the Coil. A purple energy streak shoots from the Coil to the wand. Orbax also does the same effect with his ring on his finger acting like a conductor and absorbs the electric bolt.
[Orbax on screen] So this resonant transformer takes 120 volts from the wall and turns it into a 250,000 volt discharge.
Now a lightning strike carries about 1200 times more voltage. But we can use this experimental setup to see if you can actually redirect the power of a lightning bolt.
Now when I turn this on, you can see this electrical discharge again and you can really see... you can really see the super hot plasma that I was talking about before, that purple isn't electricity.
It's actually the oxygen burning. And you can smell it too. Take a deep breath. You know that smell it you get right after a thunderstorm.
Well, that's also when you burn a campfire, you smell smoke. When you burn air you get ozone.
All right it's possible to redirect the power of this Tesla Coil through the body. But of course, there's always some losses.
Visuals: Orbax takes a fluorescent tube and puts it in his mouth. He turns on coil and absorbs the electricity through his ring. The tube lights up!
[Orbax on screen] BY THE POWER OF GREY SKULL!
So if I can generate enough power to light up this fluorescent tube, then maybe a lightning bolt with over a thousand times more voltage that carries an entire gigajoule of energy can actually cause some real damage. But to survive that, you'd need the body of a god, or at least Chris Hemsworth.
Remember to put in those lighting effects in.