Skip navigation

Category Archives: lookit me im xkcd what-if except not

I was thinking about nuclear fusion.  (A sentence that can never proceed a *boring* story, I might add)  I figured I could kind of think of subatomic particles as little spheres or shapes, basically the probability clouds of the particles, not the particles themselves.  These are flying around every which way, but sort of orbiting each other, attracted by the various forces (EM, Weak, Strong… gravity doesn’t have much affect at this level.  Normally the strong/weak force (don’t remember which) sort of ‘keeps the clouds out of one another’  Kind of like how objects at the macro level don’t pass through one another, but at this scale there’s a *little* overlap.  Fusion occurs when two of these clouds of clouds hit each other SO HARD that they overcome that force and squish together like a couple pieces of weirdly viscous mud.  Some bits fly off (radiation and decay byproducts?)  and eventually things settle down, and stuff is eventually pretty inert again.   Of course this also generates a *TON* of excess energy, and at the nuclear level, that mainly just goes to fuel further reactions, both chemical and nuclear.

So how does this relate to giant smashes?  That’s… kind of the same thing that’s happening in skyrim, as I understand it.  The attack briefly puts the player *UNDERGROUND*, which is totes not cool.  So the physics engine tries to correct it by executing an ENORMOUS force upwards.  Enough to basically teleport you above the giant, with a crazy amount of upwards momentum.  It causes a bit of your body to undergo fusion with the ground, and all of that energy is transferred into strong directional kinetic energy.

Obviously we don’t see this in our world,  and I think that’s because our world has a much faster ‘frame rate’ than Skyrim.  If Skyrim checks physics at say, 100Hz, that’s 0.01s between checks.  The speed of light in a vacuum is 299,792,458 m/s.  So the maximum speed a particle can move between ‘physics checks’ is  2,997,924.58m.  That’s nearly 3,000 kilometers, or about a quarter of the way through the *real* world earth, or about the diameter of the Moon, or halfway through Mars.1  Now obviously nothing is moving *nearly* that fast (except for like… actual light I guess), but at that ‘physics time resolution’, an object traveling at merely 100m/s could travel up to a *meter* underground before ‘physics’ realizes it’s not allowed to.  So basically determine how fast the club is hitting the player, then tweak that resolution until you see just enough giant rage-powered nuclear fusion that launches the player *just* right.

But there’s one problem.  In the real world, fusion releases energy in *every* direction, hence their indisputable effectiveness as a means of destruction.  But I’ve got an answer for that as well!  Every object in Skyrim is actually indestructible, because it’s universe simply doesn’t contain the physical laws and phenomenon involved in damaging objects for real.  This is because the game doesn’t accurately model the kinds of matter interactions that are at work when things are damaged.

So strict but slow physics rules? Check.  Everything in the universe is completely indestructible? Check.  This means that objects can experience this ‘nuclear bounce’ effect if they ever collide with enough energy.  This could be tested by setting up an experiment in Skyrim where objects are collided with forces high enough to trigger this nuclear bounce effect, and after some calibration, a model could be determined to accurately predict how much force/energy a particular collision’s nuke-bounce would produce.  Did I just literally nuclear physics a 5 and a half year old game?

Alternatively,  The giants have magic clubs that, when swung overhead by an adequately trained giant, briefly make the region of the impact SUPER DUPER BOUNCY.  But perhaps… that ‘magic’ is just the magic of Nuclear Bounce.

Footnotes:

  1. Holy crap, I never realised how bloody close to powers of two comparisons between Earth, Mars, and the Moon’s diameters were.  That may have just given me a useful yardstick for imagining distances in space…