Superhero Science: Thor

Superhero Science: Thor

Can we control storms like Marvel's Norse God?

In Marvel comics, Thor is an alien from another planet. Humans used to think he was a God! Thor is famous for his mighty hammer, his super strength and his strange costume.

We can wear the costume, but can we copy Thor's science?

Thor travels using wormholes

Thor travels to Earth and other planets using the Bifrost Bridge. The Bifrost Bridge is an Einstein-Rosen bridge, a type of wormhole. Could wormholes exist in our universe?

Neutrinos take a short cut

Wormholes are a shortcut through spacetime

Wormholes are a "shortcut" through spacetime. Think of spacetime as a piece of paper. Fold that piece of paper in half. What's the quickest way to get from one side to the other?

The quickest way is to travel in a straight line through the paper, instead of going all the way round. If spacetime in our universe is folded, then wormholes could be used to take shortcuts through space.

Most scientists think that wormholes don't exist. We haven't seen any evidence for them. However, some physicists are convinced that wormholes are out there, we just haven't found them yet. Perhaps one day wormholes will let us take shortcuts through space, just like Thor.

Thor controls storms
Thor can control storms and make lightning using his mighty hammer, Mjolnir. Thor uses Mjolnir to make storms that can destroy whole cities. This would need a lot of energy!

During a thunderstorm, 500 million kilograms of water vapour are lifted into the air. When the water condenses to form rain, it releases more energy than an atomic bomb. What gives Thor's hammer with the energy to control storms?


Could we make our own lightning?

Although we can't control storms like Thor, some companies are experimenting with artificial lightning. Applied Energetics and Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems have both built a futuristic electrolaser, also known as a lightning gun. The lightning gun can be used as a weapon or to detonate bombs.

Thor fights the frost giants

In the film, the frost giants are tall human-like aliens that live on a very cold planet called Jotunheim.

A planet like Jotunheim could exist in our universe. It might be further from its sun that Earth is from our Sun. Or it might orbit a less powerful star, which doesn't produce much heat energy.

If the planet was smaller and aliens did live there, the aliens might be taller due to the planet's lower gravity.

Europa rising

Europa is small and icy like Jotunheim (c) NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, looks like Jotunheim. It's small, cold and icy. But scientists haven't found aliens there yet! If there is alien life in our universe, it's more likely to be bacteria than giant human-like aliens.

To find out more Superhero Science, see Iron Man and The Hulk.

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