22 February 2012

Nuking the suspension of disbelief

In my favorite long read of the week, David Shechner of Overthinking It sets out to determine whether Indiana Jones could've survived an atomic bomb from the safety of a lead-lined refridgerator, as depicted in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.



Spoiler alert: Indy (and the franchise) wouldn't have survived, in the real world. But exactly how Professor Jones would most likely meet his end is a much more enjoyable question. Here's a tiny bit:

Sadly, the lead and steel shielding which the authors intend to protect their protagonist from ionizing radiation can itself become a source of it. While beta decay constitutes a relatively small portion of the average nuclear device’s output, what little sprinkle the Frigidaire receives it will transmute, in kind, into an X-ray bath for its inhabitant. It’s sort of like the way a Russian Sauna works, but instead of hot coals there’s a nuclear explosion, and instead of steam there’s a burst of X-rays, and instead of a wood hut it’s a Frigidaire, and also you’re dead. [Link sic.]

As additional evidence of Shechner's scientific bona fides, he presents the whole analysis in the persona of the third reviewer. I don't think I've enjoyed a takedown of one of George Lucas's late-career cinematic catastrophes so much since Anthony Lane wrote, in reference to Yoda's diction in Revenge of the Sith, "break me a fucking give." ◼

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