Neil deGrasse Tyson
When rock-star astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson recently estimated the weight of Thor’s hammer to be the equivalent of 300 billion elephants — or 4.5 quadrillion pounds, if you prefer — some fans questioned not his scientific credentials but rather his knowledge of comic-book lore.
Never mind the enchantment that allows an individual, “if he be worthy,” to wield Mjolnir; there’s a matter of the material from which the hammer was forged: “neutron-star matter,” as Tyson contends, or the fabled Uru, as popular belief holds. Well, skeptics, you now have some high-caliber support in the form of Suveen Mathaudhu, a comics fan and, more importantly, a program manager in the materials science division of the U.S. Army Research Office.
Astrophysicist, and science superstar, Neil deGrasse Tyson isn’t one to rest on his comic-book laurels. After helping Superman to locate his homeworld of Krypton in Action Comics #14, the director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium has moved on to a weightier question: Just how heavy is Thor’s hammer?
Tyson raised the subject this week on Twitter, writing, “If Thor’s hammer is made of neutron-star matter, implied by legend, then it weighs as much as a herd of 300-billion elephants.” Alas, he didn’t show his work, leaving Slate.com to break down the math (video below), multiplying maximum elephant weight by 300 billion.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is famed as host of PBS’s NOVA scienceNOW and as a frequent guest on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. But as of this week, he’ll also be known as the man who located Krypton.
In a story called “Star Light, Star Bright” in Action Comics #14, which goes on sale Wednesday, Tyson himself helps Superman find his homeworld on the last day of its existence.
“As a native of Metropolis, I was delighted to help Superman, who has done so much for my city over all these years,” Tyson said. “And it’s clear that if he weren’t a superhero he would have made quite an astrophysicist.”
In reality, using information provided by DC Comics, the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History did pinpoint a red dwarf star capable of supporting of Krypton-like planet in the constellation Corvus — 27.1 light years from Earth. The star can be seen at right ascension 12 hours, 10 minutes, 05.60 seconds, and declination 15 degrees, 04’ 15.66.
“This is a major milestone in the Superman mythos that gives our Super Hero a place in the universe,” said DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio. “Having Neil deGrasse Tyson in the book was one thing, but by applying real world science to this story he has forever changed Superman’s place in history. Now fans will be able to look up at the night’s sky and say – ‘that’s where Superman was born.’”