Science Heavyweights Throw Down on True Mass of Thor’s Hammer
The comic geeks have spoken. You don’t need superhuman strength to lift the legendary hammer of Thor. But that doesn’t mean the famed weapon isn’t in a class all its own.
Earlier this month, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted that if the mythical Mjolnir is made of neutron-star matter, then it “weighs as much as a herd of 300 billion elephants.” But it turns out he might be mistaken.
Despite his stellar reputation, not everyone in the science world agreed with Tyson’s heavy-weight claim about Thor’s hammer.
Suveen Mathaudhu, a materials scientist at the U.S. Army Research Office, said that Tyson is guilty of a serious miscalculation. In fact, Mathaudhu thinks he may be off by a few million pounds.
“The critical mistake Tyson makes is thinking that Mjolnir was forged of the core of a dying star, when it was actually forged in the core of a dying star,” Mathaudhu told North Carolina State University’s official news blog, The Abstract.
“It’s well documented that the hammer is made out of ‘Uru,’ a fictional metal from Thor’s native realm of Asgard,” Mathaudhu said.
And it seems this skeptical comic enthusiast knows his stuff, because a 1991 Marvel trading card depicting the hammer in question definitively states that the weapon weighs all of 42.3 pounds.
Using the specs given on the trading card, Mathaudhu calculated that Thor’s hammer has a density of about 2.13 grams per cubic centimeter, making it lighter even than aluminum. So what is Mjolnir made of, after all? Mathaudhu thinks it could be forged from metallic hydrogen, what he calls the “holy grail” of high-pressure physics.
“Some predictions of the density of metallic hydrogen fall into this range,” Mathaudhu said. “It requires extreme conditions to form, and could be a tremendous energy source. It’s thought to be present at the core of planets, such as Jupiter, and at the core of suns- which are stars, after all.”