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ColossalCon 2011 Live Blog – Science of Anime


The first thing they talk about is really fast spaceships. They will need to delve into Einsten-ien physics. According to Einstein’s laws of time dilation and energy mass conversion warp travel is not possible. They go over a quick overview of physics.

Three basic ideas

1) constance – things that don’t change despite what happens around them

2) basic concepts such as mass, length, distance, and time

3) derived concepts such as area, velocity, acceleration, force, energy

Mass effects? No not the game. Basically, as an object speeds up, some energy is converted into mass, and that takes more energy to keep the speed up, so you push more energy into it and it gets more massive, and so on, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Mass effects of near light travel. Basically what this all means is that as you approach the speed of light your mass will increase infinitely. A kilogram object traveling at 95% the speed of light would gain a significant amount of mass, weighing 3.2 kgs. That is just due to its velocity. A regulation baseball weighs 5 ounces. At 95% the speed of light it weighs a pound.

Science in Anime

So what does anime do with all this and how do they fix it? “Ether streams” in Outlaw Star. Multi-generational travel like Trigun’s SEED ships. Just stay in space like Gundam SEED.

Ether streams relies on finding a spot in space that is itself moving very fast. King of like swimming downstream in a river. Einstein’s laws will still apply meaning your mass will increase. What about the Munchhausen Drive? It’s named after Baron Karl Munchhausen whose tall tales were so outlandish they named a disorder after him.

Travel times are very long even if you can go at 0.9 times the speed of light. At that speed it would take almost 30,000 years to travel just to the center of OUR galaxy.


“Beyond this point everything in this presentation is filled with our own baseless assumptions. Any statements contained within are purely rumor and conjecture”


They just showed the giant explosion clip from Akira. They use the size of the tallest building in Tokyo at that time and then used that to measure the size of the explosion. It’s about 8 times the size of the building (240m) which is about 1920 meters. So the blast was at least 2 km at the height and it would be somewhere between 1 and 10 megatons. Little Boy was estimated at 0.13 megatons. IVY Mike was approximately 10 megatons.

Robots and Such

The next part has to do with big robots and such. Given some theoretical data, what can and what can’t a made up mech do? We’re going to assume a best case scenario including no friction, no wind resistance, and no metal wear. They got a bunch of information presumably from a site like They first analyze a space shuttle which weighs just more than a Gundam and goes through the entire fuel tank very quickly. The Gundam’s ground speed is 165 km/hour. With an entire power plant’s energy rating it would take a minute and a half to get to top speed.

What in our world works and movies like a mech? HAL – hybrid assistive limb. I actually saw it demonstrated at the World Expo last year.

They next pit Gundam against the robot Asimo. The stats are heavily in favor of the Gundam.

They next pit the Gundam against a Backyard Mech which is slightly closer. It was created by a US Army Mechanic with four years and $25,000.

The rest of the panel was more of a Q&A with a bunch of audience members asking about an issue and a discussion happening. There are a few topics that touch on slightly political issues. One interesting topic is the use of unmanned fighting machines. If you delegate the actions to the machine and a mistake occurs then who takes the blame? This ends up becoming an ethical dilemma and should be kept in mind. The moment those decisions fall solely in the hands of machines is when you get into the realm of Terminators.

Walking is a very inefficient use of energy with regards to machines. It’s a lot easier with tank treads. Another thing is talking about transforming machines. It adds a lot of complexity and it’s easier to design something to do one thing very well than making it do a lot of different things.

This panel is probably the most educational panel I’ve ever been to, at least from an academic standpoint. The powerpoint could have been a lot better since there was a lot of text effects. However, the main panelist is actually a physicist so the content was very solid.