Why Shattering Thor’s Hammer Would Destroy the Earth! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)

(Upbeat Music) – The Marvel character Thor is as defined by his mighty
hammer as by anything. Even his…armor. So in the new film Thor:
Ragnarok, when it shatters, it’s going to be devastating for him. But it would be devastating for us too, because if Thor’s hammer
actually shattered, something really, really bad would happen. (Upbeat Music) To destroy enemies and
allow the god to fly, Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir,
appears to be able to make itself impossibly heavy at will. A power that comes from both
Asgardian enchantment and… – [Thor] A special metal from
the heart of a dying star. – [Kyle] So, what would really
happen if the magic faded and the metal from a
dying star broke apart? Now, I’ve always held that the reason that Thor’s hammer can make itself heavy is that it can control the
emission of graviton particles from itself, effectively
changing its own mass. But since Thor himself is
saying metal from a dying star, we’ll take him at his word this time. We can take dying star to
me either white dwarf star or neutron star, both of
which contain exotic matter, and both of which would
mean certain death, ooooh. When a start with mass like
our sun’s starts to die, starts to run out of hydrogen fuel to use, the outer layers will get brighter, and hotter, and expand, while the core starts to contract. Eventually in the very complicated death throes of nuclear fusion, these outer layers are
thrown off into space, about half of the star’s mass. And all that’s left is an ultra-dense, ultra-small core of oxygen and carbon that will do nothing but cool
until it fully goes dark. This is a white dwarf. Inside a white dwarf star though, the material is unlike anything
you’d ever find on earth. Inside the material has been
compacted so close together, that what’s fighting gravity, keeping the star from collapsing further, isn’t thermal pressure but so-called Electron Degeneracy
Pressure which comes from electrons’ inability to
occupy the same state as one of its neighbors. So quantum mechanics is keeping this thing from collapsing further
because the electrons have run out of room to
move around atomic nuclei. If Thor’s hammer was made from this electron degenerate
matter, it would both be incredibly heavy and incredibly
dangerous if shattered. How could I possibly see
if this was happening? Any material that is supported by electron degeneracy pressure, material that is electron
degenerate matter, is going to be extremely dense. If I had just a cube of
it, literally this much, it would weigh a metric ton. And so, if…wait… …it… …takes a second sometimes. It should get here…whoa! Comin in hot! If Mjolnir has a volume
of around five liters, then the white dwarf
version of this weapon would weigh over five million kilograms. But white dwarf star material
only stays this dense because of the immense
pressures inside of the star. And so if you took a
chunk out of that star, and made a hammer out of it, and then shattered that hammer and whatever magic was
holding its material together, whatever planet you are
on probably would not have the pressure differential to
keep the 100 octillion pascals of pressure from wanting
to erupt from these pieces. Which means…(frightened sound) …shattering this
version of Thor’s hammer would result in explosive decompression that would throw millions of
kilograms of 100,000 degree oxygen and carbon plasma out in expanding bubbles of destruction that would vaporize everyone in the immediate area! But another interpretation of “dying star” be a neutron star. And if you shattered a
neutron star-based Mjolnir, no protection is gonna
save you because it might destroy the planet you’re standing on. When a star with much more mass
than our sun starts to die, it also becomes brighter and redder, but instead of then just
sloughing off its outer layers and forming a planetary nebula, it… To me hammer! Destroy this star! Oh! (chuckles) The outer layers are thrown
off in a massive explosion we call a supernova. And during this explosion,
with the help of gravity, the core is compressed beyond the density of a white dwarf star to the
point where electrons and protons are literally forced
together to become neutrons. A neutron star. Now what’s resisting gravity
is Neutron Degeneracy Pressure as opposed to the
electron degenerate matter in a white dwarf. But it takes a lot of
mass and a lot of gravity to squish material down this far. We’re talking black hole territory here. And so because neutron stars are only a few kilometers across they are very, very dense. The densest material known to man. And so, if you took Thor’s hammer, and took a chunk of neutron
star out to make it, it would weigh 10 quadrillion kilograms. Now, if this shattered
and the magic that was holding the material together faded, we would still have the expansion problem, except that would not be the worst part. Because once the neutrons start
escaping this environment, they start to decay. When a neutron decays, it turns
about a tenth of a percent of its mass into pure energy
according to e=mc squared. And so, if neutron
star-based Thor’s hammer were shattered and the magic holding it together faded, the pieces would
immediately start to decay and the neutrons would release
the same amount of energy as in Tsar Bomba, the largest
nuclear device ever detonated, except every single nanosecond. After 10 seconds this expanding
sphere of neutron-based doom would have released enough energy to boil all of the world’s oceans away. And this would continue until all of the neutrons had decayed. In total, almost enough energy to blast the crust of the earth off into space. All of it. It would be one of the
most catastrophic events to happen to our planet ever, And life as we know it would probably end. Bad. So depending on what kind of dying star Thor’s hammer was made from, if the magic surrounding the hammer faded and the weapon shattered,
it would either destroy everything around it or
everything that we care about. You know like, everything on
the surface of our planet. The Avengers should be very happy then, that Asgardian “magic” exists. Because, science. Oh, I… I miss it. I miss it. (Upbeat Music) I mean, that’s what would really happen. But what’s gonna happen
in the movie probably, you know, it’s Hollywood, it’s just gonna shatter
and there’s gonna be a little bit of an explosion and then he’s just
gonna get another hammer in the next film! Oh! Two hammers! (heavy metal scream) [Heavy Metal Music] Serious gamers need
seriously tricked out systems like Dell gaming’s new line
of PC’s designed specifically with gamers in mind. We’ve had some of them
in the office this week and I have been owning Chobot. She is bad at video games and these PC’s helped me do it. So good luck keeping up with these lightning fast specs, Chobot. Get better at stuff. No matter what your skill level, amateur or pro, if you are itching to get your hands on one of these sweet PC’s, you’re in luck. You can purchase them right now. Check out the 48-hour Level
Up event on dell.com/gaming for some sizzling pre-Black Friday deals on gaming systems and accessories. It’s time to stop
playing and start gaming. Thank you so much for watching, Katie. Follow me on Instagram and
Twitter under the same handle. You can check out the
S.P.A.A.C.E. Program at ProjectAlpha.com and you
can check out Muskwatch, my other show with Dan Casey. And a special thanks to Dr. Ethan Siegal, who just wrote this book, Treknology, which is very cool and very interesting, and I recommend picking it up. Thank you for all your help
in this episode, you nerd.


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