Neil deGrasse Tyson just answered one of Game of Thrones' most intriguing questions

Contributed by
Sep 25, 2017

Renowned astrophysicist and supernerd Neil deGrasse Tyson has long made a hobby of using his scientific mind to analyze pop culture, whether it's breaking down the movements of planets in a sci-fi film or breaking down the physics of your favorite fight scene. Over the weekend, he turned his attention to Game of Thrones, and provided an interesting an answer to a question posed by the show's most recent season.


So, in the penultimate episode of Thrones Season 7, the Night King successfully shot down one of Daenerys Targaryen's three dragons, Viserion, then hauled it up out of icy water and reanimated it. This gave him a powerful new weapon, which he then used to bring down a huge chunk of The Wall in the season finale. Watching Zombie Viserion blast the wall with blue flame was one of the most dazzling visuals the show has ever delivered, but it left fans wondering: What exactly are the properties of that blue fire? It's obviously very destructive, but how destructive?

Here's Tyson's answer:

Now, on the surface this makes perfect sense. Anyone who's ever used a gas stove can tell you a blue flame is significantly hotter than an orange flame. Here's the thing, though: We don't actually know if that's what Viserion's producing here. Sure, it looks like a blue flame, but it could be something more than just a hotter version of an orange flame. After all, Viserion's a wight now. He's supernatural, and we haven't seen his breath do anything other than bring down The Wall, which according to Westerosi legend is also supernatural. We could have been seeing some kind of magical reaction there. It's also possible that the flame is blue simply because he's a wight, and blue is kinda their color. For all we know, Drogon and Rhaegal could do the same thing to The Wall if they wanted to. There are a lot of interesting things to ponder.

At any rate, we'll likely learn much more about the destructive power of Viserion's fire when Game of Thrones returns for its eighth and final season.

As is his habit, Tyson also dug into other aspects of the series, particularly the final two Season 7 episodes. On the plus side, Tyson is very impressed with the design of the show's dragons, biologically speaking.

On the negative side, like more than a few viewers, he's not buying all of those wights lugging a dead dragon up out of a lake, not because of the "Where did they get the chains?" argument, but because he just doesn't think the physics works.

Tyson has yet to weigh in on the genetic problems of a Targaryen/Snow coupling, but we'll keep you posted if he does.

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