If you love “Game of Thrones“ – either the hit HBO show or the bestselling novels – you might think the story is pure escapism: a fantasy romp set in a faraway world of magic and dragons.
In fact, its creators get a surprising amount right about the fundamental laws of science and physics.
At the next STEM Café, Rebecca Thompson of the American Physical Society (APS) will train a physicist’s eye on the “Game of Thrones“ universe, exploring how dragon fire matures, how ice walls keep out white walkers and how a summer could last for 10 years.
The free talk and discussion will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, at the Two Brothers Roundhouse, 205 N. Broadway in Aurora.
“I want people to see JUST how much science went into creating this fiction,” Thompson says. “They’ll walk away having learned some exciting physics, but also looking at their favorite shows and books in a new way.”
Thompson knows her physics. She earned her doctorate in the field studying, among other things, a process called microflowering, in which silicon wire blossoms into highly complex designs. But she is equally passionate about science outreach. As head of outreach for the APS, she writes comic books and creates presentations designed to bring physics to the widest audience possible.
“I love combining storytelling, science and pop culture,” she says. “When a fantasy world feels complete and easy to fall into, like in ‘Game of Thrones,’ it’s often because someone really thought through the science behind it. So when you’re reading or watching, you might be picking up some solid physics without even realizing it.”
“This should be a truly fun night, especially for ‘Game of Thrones’ fans,” says NIU STEM Outreach associate Judith Dymond. “Dr. Thompson will give them a whole new perspective on the story. It’s a perfect example of what our STEM Cafés are all about: making science fun and accessible in surprising ways.”
This event is part of STEM Outreach’s series of monthly STEM Cafés, all of which are free and open to the public. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from Two Brothers Round House.
Thompson will also present “The Physics of Game of Thrones” as a lecture for NIU’s campus community at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16. This talk, which will take place in Room 143 of Faraday Hall, is also free for students, faculty and staff. The campus talk is co-sponsored by STEM Outreach and NIU’s Society of Physics Students.
STEM Outreach hosts other engaging events such STEMfest, the university’s free, family-friendly celebration of all things science, technology, engineering and math. This year’s STEMfest takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at the NIU Convocation Center. Thompson will appear as her comic book alter ego, Spectra, and discuss comics and physics on the STEMfest stage.
For more information on STEM Cafés and other STEM events, call (815) 753-4751 or email [email protected].