Dragon Fire, a Theoretical Study

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Dragon Fire, a Theoretical Study

Can a Dragon Melt a Castle with its Fire?


Wataru Hashimoto

Northern Illinois University

Photo by JT Occhialini.

“Can a dragon melt a castle with its fire?" That was one of the questions Rebecca Thompson from the American Physical Society tried to answer at our recent event, The Physics of Game of Thrones. She observed dragon fire in the show and estimated its temperature based on its color (just as astrophysicists figure out that a blue-colored star is hotter than a red-colored star). Then, she assumed that the material the castle is made of is probably graphite, which has a melting point of a few thousand degrees. Her calculations showed that a red flame would be hot enough to do the job.

As a physicist, I had another question: “How does a dragon contain fire in its mouth that is capable of melting the stone?”

“Sometimes, I don't like to say this,” she said, “but it’s MAGIC!" It was not possible to explain everything using physics, since the story is fiction. But it was fun to try to understand some of its phenomena—this, after all, is what we physics majors do in the real world. //

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