Superheroes Round 16: More Thor
So, I got to watch Thor: The Dark World over the winter break, in addition to all the other movies.
I think it’s a mixed-bag, plot-wise. But, you know, there was good humor and explosions, so it was at least somewhat okay.
And, as ever, much spoilers.
Odin’s Wisdom (or Lack Thereof)
Odin seems… much less than intelligent in this one. He rather obviously disapproves of Thor’s romantic interest in a pitiful human (Jane), and wants to encourage him to seek out Sif instead. Thor’s… not really interested in that, and Odin’s pushing is decidedly not helping. Seriously, Odin, not helping. You’d be much better off either being accepting of Thor’s current fling (since humans don’t live that long anyway, he can take the long view here) or he could look into actually getting to know Jane, and possibly finding ways to help her live longer and fit into Asgardian culture. All Odin succeeds in doing is ticking off Thor and making him less likely to listen to Odin’s advice.
That isn’t helped when Odin completely ignores Jane when Thor brings her to Asgard, says Asgard has no time for little human illnesses and orders her to be sent home. He doesn’t even bother to ask why Thor would have gone to such lengths. Humans are like mayflies to Odin, I suppose… but if so, that doesn’t jibe with Odin’s willingness to severely punish Loki for squishing a bunch of them in the Avengers film. Regardless, it’s obvious very quickly that Odin’s disregard is a bad move.
Admittedly, for the later part of the film, he is wracked with grief over Frigga’s death, but… he refuses to allow Thor to try something to save the day without further bloodshed? And doesn’t seem to account for how likely Thor is to go off and do it anyway when he forbids it? Wow. So. Much. Shortsightedness.
Hey, Odin, what did you sell that eye for again?
Loki Steals The Show
So much treachery. So much manipulation.
Also, obviously, not actually dead.
Loki is a source of intense hilarity in this film — every interaction he has with other characters has some elegant barbs attached. I think his character makes much more sense in this film than he did in the Avengers, where it’s pretty clear that his movtives are as tangled as his plans.
Delightfully, we are left to wonder — how deep does the deception go? His actions led to his mother’s death, for which he at least appears angry and remorseful; he uses the history of those actions to double-cross the dark elves and help Thor (by looking like he’s double-crossing Thor), but then also fakes his own death and takes Odin’s throne.
That seems much more plausible for a Loki-like long-term plan. Seriously, he’s doing way better than Odin right now.
The dark elves have these grenade things, which basically suck nearby stuff around them into them and crush them into a point. Thus, I think of them as mini-black-hole-grenades.
These are nifty. But how might they work?
First, we’re going to have to ignore the fact that you can’t actually shield against something’s gravity. The grenades should really be active at all times, sucking in their owners… awkward. But, let’s move on.
Since these can clearly suck people in against the force of gravity, let’s say they pull with a strength of two times that of gravity at a distance of three meters from the device. That’ll let you suck up some Asgardians pretty well, I think. So, what does that imply for the mass of the black hole? Doing a little work with Newton, I get a mass estimate of 2.7×10^12 kg. That’s way less than the mass of the Earth (roughly 6×10^24), and, according to Wikipedia, roughly the mass of all the fish in the world, or all of the oil produced globally in 2009. So it’s nothing to sniff at.
And now we’re going to have to ignore how heavy that little black hole grenade is. Nobody should be able to lift, throw, carry or move that thing without a heck of a lot of mechanical help. Even Thor isn’t strong enough for something that massive.
I note that after sucking people in, the black hole appears to dissipate. This is a real thing, possibly, called black hole evaporation, postulated by people with big names like Stephen Hawking. This works via messy interactions with quantum mechanics. However, black holes evaporate more readily the smaller they are. In order to avoid sucking in more people, we’d need the black hole in this scenario to dissipate in seconds at most. For a black hole with the mass I estimated above, we get a lifetime of about 1.6×10^21 seconds. That’s about 50 trillion years.
I note that the mass I estimate is on the low end for primordial black holes; the result I calculate is consistent with Wikipedia’s statement that black holes with a mass of about 10^11 kg would evaporate in roughly the lifetime of the universe, or 13 billion years.
Finally, even assuming the black hole could dissipate that rapidly, all that mass and energy has to go somewhere. There should be a glow or flash of light as the black hole loses energy through quantum processess, which would increase in energy as the black hole evaporated. It would eventually release energy like a bomb.
More grenade-like that you might expect.
Regardless, I think the final answer here is: no, you can’t have one.
The interns in this movie are unpaid. While this may be typical for many industry internships, most scientific fellowships make an effort to pay their interns. And try to help make sure the interns have at least a basic understanding of the science that’s going on. Just sayin’.