- Warning: Spoilers ahead for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” season eight, episode five, “The Bells.”
- In the episode, Drogon blasts through the stone buildings with his flames.
- It’s puzzling, since stone normally isn’t flammable.
- Neil DeGrasse Tyson told INSIDER that the dragon fire basically works like a bomb, injecting heat into buildings and blowing them up from the inside.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
The latest episode of “Game of Thrones” features one of the show’s most shockingly violent twists, as Daenerys laid waste to the city of King’s Landing with Drogon’s dragon fire, massacring thousands of innocent people.
And while it’s probably unnecessary to question the science of a show with dragons and undead, the scene does raise a few questions about how it all works.
The buildings in King’s Landing are mostly made of stone, and stone normally isn’t flammable. Sure, Drogon is a powerful dragon, but it was still surprising to see his flames turn all the buildings into rubble.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium, told INSIDER that the science behind it is pretty straightforward: The dragon flames work like a bomb.
The intense flames, Tyson said, injected heat into the buildings, which then made them blow up from the inside.
“If you have a pocket of air and you rapidly and instantly heat it, it’s a bomb,” he said. “That is what bombs are. They’re rapidly expanding air creating a shockwave.”
The fact that the buildings are stone wouldn’t be an issue, Tyson said. The dragonfire doesn’t directly burn the stones, it just heats up the air so much that everything surrounding it would blow up.
“If you have a dragon, it’s not just layering flames,” Tyson said. “It has [aimed an] insertion of very hot air. That hot air will expand catastrophically and blow stuff down.”
There is plenty of precedent in George R.R. Martin’s books for dragons demolishing buildings and even melting stone with their fire. Harrenhal, for example, was once the largest castle in Westeros – but Aegon Targaryen turned it to ruin with the dragons under his command.
Tyson spoke to INSIDER at the Webby Awards in Manhattan Monday night where his podcast, “Star Talk,” won an award for the best science and education podcast. And while Tyson remains a “Game of Thrones” fan, he said he’s disappointed with the eighth season’s fifth episode. he said he wished Cercei Lannister’s harpoon “Scorpions” were more effective at taking down the dragons, and that Daenerys’s massacre wasn’t as compelling as the show’s finest moments.
“I know the series is capable of deeper ideas than people killing people,” he said. “But in a sense it was a climax. It was the battle everyone was anticipating. And you’re hoping the harpoons work.”
- Read more:
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