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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Thor's hammer weighs 300 billion elephants

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has tackled the difficult calculations required to determine the weight of superhero Thor's otherworldly weapon.

Neil deGrasse Tyson shared this Thor hammer photo on Twitter.
(Credit: Neil deGrasse Tyson)

Beloved astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is no stranger to the world of comic book superheroes, having already found the location for Superman's home planet. He has now turned his keen scientific mind to the Marvel world, and the issue of just how much Thor's mighty hammer weighs.

Thor's hammer Mjölnir is said to be made of neutron-star matter. Tyson did the calculations and determined that the hammer must therefore weigh as much as 300 billion elephants. That's not a common form of weight measurement, so we have to do some further calculations to translate elephants into kilograms.

Tyson didn't specify what kind of elephants or how much they each weigh, so we're going to make some assumptions here. According to Wikipedia, African elephants weigh between 4000 kilograms and 7000 kilograms. Let's split the difference and say 5500 kilograms. Multiply that by 300 billion, and we get 16.5 trillion kilograms. That's a pretty hefty hammer. Chris Hemsworth must be in really great shape.

Tyson tweeted a photo of himself holding Thor's hammer, along with the message, "Just an FYI: Thor was kind enough to lend me Mjölnir so that I could make the proper measurements."

Tyson's ability to heft the overweight weapon may lead us to question his origin story of having been born in Manhattan. We're starting to think that we should look to a superhuman extraterrestrial source for Mr Tyson.

You can look to the stars to explain Tyson's affinity for Superman and Thor:


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