Shocking as this may be to hear, video games aren't always realistic. But just how unrealistic are they? A group of physicists took a look at Super Mario Galaxy recently, and their findings show the true extent of the iconic plumber's disregard for the laws of nature.
The tongue-in-cheek study "It's a-me, Density!," published in the University of Leicester's Journal of Physics Special Subjects, examines the "interesting take on planetary science" that Nintendo brought to the Super Mario Galaxy series. I'd be lying if I said I understood everything the paper's authors are talking about once they get into the numbers part of the equation, but the study is still a fun read thanks to its deadpan approach to Mario. Here's how they lay out the problem, for instance:
The various planets visited in the game appear to be approximately 100m in diameter. This leads to the curvature of their surfaces being not only visible but extreme, with Mario often walking around the whole circumference of a planet in a minute or two. His movement and jumping capabilities appear the same on each planet, as well as on Earth, leading to the assumption that they all have the same surface gravity (9.81ms−2). So how dense would these 'baby' planets need to be in order to generate the required gravitational force and is this theoretically possible?
After performing all the requisite calculations, the authors find that there's a "severe imbalance of gravitational pressure to degeneracy and coulomb pressures" in a given planet in Super Mario Galaxy. "This imbalance of forces is clearly untenable, and would result in the destruction of the planet."
I know what you're thinking: "It's like they read my mind! I always knew something was off about Super Mario Galaxy, I just didn't have the words, or the advanced to degrees, to say exactly what it was!"
The paper ultimately finds that "the degeneracy pressure far outstrips the gravitational pressure by eleven orders of magnitude. The outcome of this discrepancy is that if constructed, the planet would survive for only a very brief moment before violently destroying itself and any short plumbers who happen to be running about on its surface."
On a slightly less grim note, the paper also observes that "the slight lack of resistance to upwards blood flow would inflate and redden the subject's face," when on these disruptive planets, meaning that for the brief moment when Mario would still be alive, he'd have a healthy blush about him. "It is possible that this is the source of Mario's baby-like complexion."
I guess this means the awesome tiny planets in Ratchet & Clank wouldn't stand up to scrutiny either. Sigh.
"Although a pleasant idea, none of the above could ever truly come to pass," the paper concludes. If only there was some kind of virtual, interactive entertainment product that didn't have to "truly" obey pesky things like the laws of gravity.