While a good chunk of Game of Thrones watchers treat it like the Last Great Appointment TV Show, clearly our Sunday nights to watch, others wait until it's available on streaming and binge. That must have been what Neil deGrasse Tyson did because his Twitter feed went wall to wall GoT references this weekend. As one might expect from one of the most famous astrophysicists of our time, he considers the science behind Westeros. And there's little that's more delightful than Neil deGrasse Tyson on Game Of Thrones' dragons, and the physics behind them.
I know, most of you are probably staring in confusion at the concept of "the science behind Westeros." Westeros doesn't have science! In fact, as we learned this season, they don't even have basic germ theory when it comes to diseases like greyscale. These are people who see comets and think it's a harbinger of doom. Not to mention, talking about dragons and science? The most magical of creatures?
But while the more advanced theoretical and medical sciences may be unknown to all but a few heretics in the Citadel, physics is a thing anywhere there's a planet with gravity. It's the study of matter, and while dragons may not exist on our planet, they certainly are made of matter on Planetos. Therefore, they need to conform to certain rules.
Take it awa, Mr. Tyson:
The dragons (especially Drogon) growing larger each season apparently isn't just to impress the audience and make the props people and CGI animators have a headache in how to achieve them. It's good science.
Hear that cherubs? Good thing the Faith of the Seven has no need for such anatomically incorrect creatures.
Actually one of the creepier moments with Drogon is watching him use the tips of his wings to crawl around in the Dragon Pit. (Partly because you know that's how the captive dragons who once were imprisoned there probably got around that way.)
But while the dragons get NdGT's stamp of approval, not everything in Westeros apparently conforms to the laws of nature, or obeys the laws of sensible biology design.
The Night King! He's not just an evil baddie who turns people into zombies, he's also defying the very laws of gravity in pulling his would be ride out of the lake. Sir! The God of Physics would like to have a word with you.... Right after you put down that javelin, of course.
Despite his dislike of the Night King's methods of pulling a waterlogged corpse of a dead dragon out of a frozen lake, Neil deGrasse Tyson does consider what happened to the dragon after the Night King turned him from a standard issue fire dragon into the specialty creature known as an ice dragon.
As soon as Viserion's eye opened, fans were wondering if the Night King's new pet ride would be breathing fire as he did before, or ice. In the end, we saw it breathed something that was blue -- something that was able to knock down the Wall. But was that fire? Or was it ice?
NdGT assumes that the breath we see in this shot is in fact fire -- but it's not the red fire we think of immediately when someone says the word. Instead it's a fire you see a lot in scientific laboratories -- blue flame, which burns at a much higher temperature than the orange red ones in our fireplaces. Three times hotter, in fact.
This might explain why in Martin's short story The Ice Dragon, the titular creature is able to take down multiple fire dragons. It also explains why he could take the Wall down so fast as well. As we saw last spring when HBO revealed the release date for Season 7, it takes more than just a single jet of flame to melt a block of ice that large. Perhaps they should use blue fire next year. Works really well for Viserion, anyway.