If Super Mario Galaxy levels existed in the real world, it wouldn’t be long before gravitational forces tore them apart.
When people say that we should take video games seriously, they’re rarely thinking about scientific accuracy. But if a new study from the University of Leicester is anything to go on, it’s something we really should consider more often. As part of the university’s Journal of Physics Special Subjects, its authors used their knowledge to better understand the physics of Super Mario Galaxy‘s planetoids. What they’ve found is that if such planets actually existed, Mario would be lucky if they didn’t explode moments after he set foot on them.
You see, the problem isn’t each planet’s size; there are all kinds of tiny asteroids and stellar bodies out there. It’s that Super Mario Galaxy‘s planets also have Earth standard gravity, which is only possible if they’re extremely dense.
“The various planets visited in the game appear to be approximately 100m in diameter,” the study reads. “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 (9.81ms2). So how dense would these ‘baby’ planets need to be in order to generate the required gravitational force and is this theoretically possible?”
Let’s assume each Galaxy planet has a radius of about 50m. If you punch that value into some gravitational formulas (provided by the study) every world apparently has a natural instability of gravitational pressure, which causes gravity to degenerate over time. And by over time, I mean maybe a few seconds.
“The outcome of this discrepancy is that if constructed,” the study concludes, “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.”
The full report goes into more detail, such as how the planet’s size makes it easier to escape (with a rocket, not jumping, sadly). What other studies would you like to see breaking down the physics of video games?