The Infinity Stones in 'Avengers: Infinity War,' explained by a Marvel science advisor

Marvel science advisor Clifford Johnson and author of “The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe” explains where the infinity stones in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War might have come from and how they got their powers. Following is a transcript of the video.

Clifford Johnson: The infinity stones are this set of artifacts that have been left over from something that came before. I think we learn a little bit more as you go through into this “Infinity War” movie that somehow they’re left over from the creation of the universe around the time of the Big Bang which is 13.8 billion years ago.

These essences were created or maybe they were created from something else that came before. We’re not told, but we know the very early part of the universe as we know it these stones came into existence. And they give the user, if the user is up for it, the ability to control various core elements of how our universe works.

So Thanos, the big bad in the movie, is actually after these elements because he wants to do a certain thing with them and they will give him the power to do that easily. So you have these six stones that have powers like they can control time, they can control space and other elements like that. You have a mind stone of soul stone and so on. And these give control over very specific aspects of the universe and life in the universe. And then when you have them all together they make you God-like. They make you omnipotent, omnipresent, and all of these “omni” things because they give you all of this control. So that’s what Thanos is after.

One of the interesting things about the whole setup is that the idea that there were important elements, important relics left over from very early times in our universe reflect something that’s true in our real universe.

As a scientist, I actually study various things that are to do with relics of the early universe. The very elements we made of. The different kinds of elements are made at different stages in the universe and some of the oldest stuff like hydrogen and helium was actually made very early on around the time soon off the Big Bang.

These sort of ideas that you have things that are left over that are very important is sort of reflected in this infinity stone idea. Very key elementary particles like the Higgs Boson which play a very important role in the early universe to give mass to all the elementary particles. So we actually create the Higgs Boson in particle colliders. We temporarily recreate the conditions of the early universe so we can bring those particles alive again.

But the key idea that connects the real science is that there are things we know about our universe now that connect to very early aspects of the universe when it was very young. And that’s the setup of a lot of the cosmic stuff in the Marvel universe. The idea that there are either beings that have been around for a very long time or they’re able to access abilities or powers that connect to the very early structure of the universe.

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