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The Science of Godzilla


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#1 TheBigDog

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 08:04 PM

I have spent the weekend watching monster movies with the boys. Much of it dedicated to my old pal Godzilla. We watched Godzilla Raids Again, the 1955 sequel to the original, which was made before the 1956 version of Godzilla which had added scenes with Raymond Burr to make it more marketable in the US. Another thing I found interesting is that in the original they actually killed Godzilla. In the sequel is another monster of the same type (a 400 foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex) that they call Gigantus; they buried him in ice on a remote island.

But I digress...

This thread is to speculate about the source of Godzilla's powers. Namely, his breath. As far as I can tell it is a sort of super heated electro energy beam. Maybe some sort of highly energized plasma. It appears that he "charges up" through the large things that grow out of his back, like he is taking in electrical energy from the atmosphere. Or it could be that he is using an internal chemical reaction that makes the stuff on his back glow as he prepares the breath. I don't think it is internal chemical as he would have to eat something, and we never really see him eat anything at all.

So I am going with electro-energized-plasma-breath with the electrical energy being drawn from the atmosphere through the large protrusions on his back. I am not sure what type of energy output it is but considering how it melts tanks I would say it is in the google-watts range.

What do you think?

Bill
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#2 Buffy

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 08:58 PM

Well the original Gojira--and even with the more McCarthyite-correct, but moronic Raymond Burr cut ins--make it clear that he was created due to man's experimentation with atomic energy and weapons, so I always assumed that with all that plutonium in him, generating a high temperature plasma beam wouldn't be a problem.

Now directing it is an interesting issue too: different sequels used different techniques ranging from a somewhat wiggly flamethrower to a light-saber-esque straight cloudy beam, so in discussing this, you probably want to specify *which* sequel you're talking about.

Of course I still break out in giggles whenever I see Gamera fly with those flames coming out of the legs holes of his shell to make him spin.... :)

Then you have a responsibility no man has ever faced. You have your fear which might become reality. And you have Godzilla, which *is* reality, :shrug:
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#3 TheBigDog

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Posted 02 May 2010 - 09:59 PM

I always got from the mythology that he was more awakened than created by the nuclear stuff. But I should watch the original again to refresh my understanding of how it all started. I recall a very anti-nuclear spin to it.

The most interesting thing about Godzilla Raids Again is the narration. It is such stylized Japanese dialog. Poetic in its own way. Such a contrast to the nature of the film.

But back you your point Buffy, he may well be plutonium powered. Hmmmm...

Bill

#4 CraigD

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 08:45 AM

This thread is to speculate about the source of Godzilla's powers. Namely, his breath. As far as I can tell it is a sort of super heated electro energy beam. Maybe some sort of highly energized plasma. It appears that he "charges up" through the large things that grow out of his back, like he is taking in electrical energy from the atmosphere. Or it could be that he is using an internal chemical reaction that makes the stuff on his back glow as he prepares the breath.

Ah, the science of imaginary movie monsters! I love it when we assault the pinnacles of human culture and knowledge! ;)

My movie opinion is that Godzilla’s breath is a stream of well-collimated air so hot it’s mostly ionized – that is, as TBD suggests, a plasma. Since it’s pretty much a given that Godzilla’s powered by radioactive fuel (carelessly dumped by nations without nuclear bans), I figure his giant lungs are festooned with plutonium, so he just takes a deep breath, pulls whatever kind of neutron absorber he has to keep from constantly shooting his breath-beam, and when it gets as hot as he can bear, exhales through some complicated trachea and mouth apparatus that projects his breath in a long-reaching column, rather than just the usual billowing path dictated by regular fluid dynamics. That Son-of-Godzilla has a knack for acoustics and smoke-ring blowing supports my hypothesis.

Plasma’s conductive, so if he has some extra charge – and he usually seems to – lightning gets thrown into the mix for extra monster-y goodness.

G’s glowing, stegosaurus-style back plates must be cooling radiators, allowing him to pump blood from his lungs to them and radiate the heat into the air, avoiding a catastrophic internal meltdown - not to mention they’re an easy special effect to add in post production, even in the days of the early Godzilla movies.

I don't think it is internal chemical as he would have to eat something, and we never really see him eat anything at all.

I agree.

Godzilla appears to get all his energy from nuclear fission. Ordinary hunting and eating seems such a remote memory for him, he’s entirely lost the habit.

How a simple, minding-his-own-business dinosaur got this way’s a potentially long discussion. As the original movies were cautionary tales about nuclear pollution, I think the original creators imagined it to be accidental. Later, cheesier movies introduced super-engineers from the distant past, time traveling from the far future, and space invading from who-knows-where (their unifying feature apparently fashion sense that runs toward uniform jumpsuits and helmets :D), so I think it was re-imagined into a cautionary tale about genetic engineering and other meddling-with-nature, with Godzilla and his monster brethren being artificially engineered.

#5 Michaelangelica

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 06:19 AM

My favorite monster movie!
The latest US? version. Extremely funny.
The poor French secret service guys tryng to get a decent coffee in the USA.Hilarios running gag
"Where did you get all these weapons"
"This is America you can buy anything in America".
I put "?" after US because it was so funny and most US films aren't.
I saw it in an empty theater with my kids, we laughed our heads off!
A real gem that I'm sure bombed.
You would probably enjoy it more if you are not Yank, and have tried to get a decent coffee there (OK you guys do make better tea than the Poms).

#6 lawcat

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 06:33 AM

Quite cool! I have to admit, I've never watched a Godzilla movie.

I don't think that Godzilla's breath has to be hot or ionized. The path to target should be ionized, and Godzilla's breath could be simply charged like a cloud. Then, when the charge goes through ionized path and hits the target it would melt it much like a thunder, due to excessive current.

In this scenario it is interesting to think of ways to guide the thunder to target.

But when I was a kid I always thought of dragons as torch throwers. Basically, there is some igniter mechanism and a flammable in a dragon to which the dragon is immune.

#7 GAHD

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 07:36 PM

The question comes to mind if godzilla has a standard lung anatomy(spends large amounts of time underwater); if he had an oxygen exchanger like spiracles one could go on that the nuclear fission reactions that seem to sustain him excite the atmosphere moving through them (possibly in conduits from his back to his face) into a plasma, which is then expelled from his mouth. Mechanically moving the plasma in one direction would probably cause current flow in the reverse, leading to the discharge from his back spiracles.

Being a bipedal nuclear reactor his blood itself must act as the dampner to keep the reactions occuring but in check, Perhapse his time spent underwater is to quite literally "cool off" or even slow the reactions to a more comfortable level(he only seems angry when on land, maby it's the irratation you get on a really hot day with no wind.)

#8 TheBigDog

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 02:25 PM

OK, I have been on a Godzilla binge since this last post. The boys love Godzilla movies and there are a whole ton of them available on Netflix, many for instant viewing. Toho which produces the whole series has done a good job of keeping a story thread running throughout. (I say a good job, they have done a job; good is a stretch).

So this long thought is a continuation of the question about where Godzilla gets his power.

In the original movie they kill Godzilla with the stuff that takes the oxygen out of the water. It leaves nothing but a skeleton behind. In the second movie a second monster shows up, which they bury under an avalanche of ice on a remote southern island. Presumably this monster is killed, but the movies continue. In many of the movies they begin with Godzilla being awakened from a slumber at the bottom of the ocean someplace. For a good stretch of time Godzilla actually defended Japan from other rampaging monsters, but ultimately becomes a general force of destruction again.

In the 70's there was a movie called Destroy All Monsters. One of my favorites. In this movie the people from planet X come to earth and capture monsters which they use to try and take over the world. Their ultimate weapon is a three headed dragon monster who's name I can never remember, but which I have always known as Monster Zero (what a great name, even if it is not right). The movie is a monster battle free for all where Godzilla ultimately defeats Monster Zero, but then is in turn defeated by Mothra's two silkworm children who manage to cocoon him in thread and he dies. I remember being very sad that Godzilla was killed in this movie.

One of my favorites was the Monster Island movie, where the little kid was being bullied and kept having daydreams about chumming around with Godzilla's son on Monster Island (also known as Infant Island). In the movie Godzilla's egg hatches and out comes the little bundle of bulbous joy. He can only breath smoke rings, not full out blasts unless Godzilla steps on his tail. Very cute. In the end the boy defeats his bullies while baby Godzilla defeats enemies with his old man.

Eventually the people of earth build Mechagodzilla - a giant robotic monster built to defend the world from Godzilla and other monsters. He is constructed from the bones of the first Godzilla killed by the oxygen weapon. This bit of mythology comes from the movie Godzilla SOS (which I am watching while I write this). Mothra is insulted by the human's use of Godzilla's bones and gives an ultimatum (delivered by the two fairies) that Mechagodzilla must be destroyed. But the point here is that there is another baby Godzilla in this movie which closely resembles the baby Godzilla from Monster Island. Yet another baby Godzilla is found in Mechagodzilla 2, an egg hatches out a "Tyronodon" a veggie eating Godzilla which later turns out to be the real deal. It acts as a sort of bait for Godzilla.

So it appears there have been three Godzillas. The original killed in the first movie. The one from the second movie apparently killed, but which kept surfacing until it was killed by Mothra's kids in Destroy All Monsters. The crown of King of the Monsters was then taken up by Baby Godzilla from Monster Island all grown up. This Godzilla then raged for years and witnesses the hatching of the fourth Godzilla in Mechagodzilla 2. The next thing that happens is Godzilla experiences another nuclear accident and begins to have a runaway nuclear reaction in his heart (Godzilla vs Mothra). In this movie it is first feared that he will cause an explosion, and later feared that he will melt down in a catastrophic China syndrome. It is decided that another monster which has appeared must be allowed to fight and defeat Godzilla to neutralize the nuclear potential. Godzilla is glowing red and boils the ocean around him as the nuclear fusion runs hot in his heart. Then from nowhere the very big but still growing baby Godzilla from the previous movie shows up and begins fighting the monster, and Mechagodzilla, and Mothra, and Mothra's kids. He is apparently killed. Then the glowing red Godzilla shows up and kicks butt and takes names and ends up in a huge smoky mass of destruction. In the end when the smoke clears Godzilla and the monster have fallen into a huge crack in the earth and the juvenile Godzilla rises from the ashes. This then is the rise of the fourth Godzilla.

Then in Godzilla: Tokyo SOS; Godzilla and Mechagodzilla battle with Mechagodzilla. Mechagodzilla in the final battle stops responding to his controls and flies Godzilla to the middle of the ocean where he crashes into the sea and puts the original Godzilla's bones to rest, pacifying Mothra.

So what does all this mean? How does plutonium power move from generation to generation? I should probably not ask such a silly question in light of the general topic, but it goes to finding reason in this silly mythology. I don't see how so many Godzillas could suffer from the same nuclear poisoning and have it manifest in the same way. Instead I think that they are mutated by radiation rather than powered by it. There is a good deal of nuclear material in them as they leave radioactive traces, but I think the breath may be a natural outcropping of their mutated state rather than purely powered by internal nuclear combustion.

Bill

#9 Michaelangelica

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 05:07 PM

BTW
Has anyone seen the short film "Godzilla meets Bambi" ?

#10 TheBigDog

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 08:21 PM

LOL I saw it last weekend. The last time I saw it before that was at the drive in before I was ten years old. Can you remember the name of the guy who made it? He is all over the credits which roll for the whole movie.

#11 CraigD

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 09:07 PM

Bill, your scholarship on the subject inspires me to abandoning for a post the biology/physics of Godzilla’s breath for a foray into his fictional history. :)

The following events take place or are described in the 1988 movie Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah:

In the year 2204, not just Tokyo, but the whole nation of Japan had long ago been destroyed by Godzilla. Via a time-ship people (“futurians”) from 2204 to travel back to before the creation of Godzilla, which their history tells them was due to the effects of a 1954 US fusion bomb test on a biologically normal dinosaur (a “godzillasaurus”) living on the island of Lagos, and move (via a teleportation device) the godzillasuarus off the island to the depths of the Bering sea before the test bombing, apparently succeeding in their mission to prevent the creation of Godzilla. However, either accidentally or by sinister plan, the futurians lose their 3 genetically engineered, remote-controlled pet bird-things (“dorats”) on Laos, where the bomb fuses and transforms them into the 3-headed (and still remote-controlled) monster King Ghidorah (the same beast as Monster Zero – presumably due to lots of space/time travel, cloning, or whatever) – with which the futurians either opportunistically or by evil design decide to conquer Japan and/or the world. Meanwhile, the godzillasuarus waylays a Soviet nuclear sub in the Bering sea, transforming into the familiar monster Godzilla. The title monster fight ensues, in 1992 ... well, I’ll stop here - watch or read about the movie for the confusing, time-travel-twisty details (time-traveling robotically enhanced monsters are involved ;)).

There are at least 2 Godzilla-related fictional histories that extend far further into the past than the 1940s:
  • That of Gamera, the giant jet-propelled turtle, who’s history goes back to his creation via genetic engineering to control an out-of-control race of genetically engineered monsters, the dreadful, fast-reproducing gyaos) by the lost high-tech civilization of Atlantis (from 1995’s Gamera: Guardian of the Universe) ;
  • That of the Elias, the two best-know of whom are the 2 Mothra sisters, who were having Earth-shattering monster battles about millions of years ago. In 1996/1999’s Rebirth of Mothra and sequels, it’s revealed that there are actually 3 Mothra sisters, one an evil/goth/punk contrast to the other 2, all of whom excel at swordfighting from the backs of fairy-sized riding moths – not typical giant monster movie fare.


#12 Buffy

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 02:44 AM

They're hard to get a hold of, but there are two renditions of Gamera (as well as some other Gamera and Godzilla flicks) done by Mystery Science Theater: one from the early "KTMA" days and one later on. I know there are Bittorrent sites that have them....but you cannot say you're a Godzilla fan until you've seen these....unfortunately, Toho has always refused to provide clearance for these (at least not without being paid a ton of money), so they've never shown up on any of the DVDs....

Ghidora (I think the "King" appellation was only used in the movie Craig references above) showed up in several Toho movies, sometimes without Godzilla: I think that once they built a monster, they wanted to make as many movies as possible out of it to get their investment back. Toho has never been known to think of what they do as "art"... :hihi:

The way he whips his heads around certainly breaks several laws of physics (at least without the fishing line hanging from the rafters of the set), and of course the multiple brains would certainly explain why he's always a homicidal maniac of a monster....

Oh, I hope that's not Mr. Bubble or Gamera's gonna get a kidney infection! :)
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#13 lawcat

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 11:40 PM

I stumbled on this cool music video that features some of what's been discussed here. Hope you enjoy:

YouTube - Godzilla Music Video