Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Magical Refrigerator makes me into a big ole science geek. Gut reaction to the famous “nuke the fridge” scene was immediately and, generally correct. I’ve only ever run into one fan who claimed that the scene was wholly plausible for Indy to survive, let alone walk away from generally unscathed. Here’s the scene for you to review:
There’s a punch line to all this, but stay with me here. First, let’s review a few details about an atomic blast that I spent several hours researching to talk about the scene:
The shock effect alone at point-blank range crushes most objects in its path, including the parked cars, all of the houses, all the items in the house and the car the bad guys are trying to get away in. A reasonable review of it stands that hollow cubes of metal, even lead-lined, wouldn’t be up to the task structurally to a) survive the force of the blast or b) ride that wave like a surf board.
If I remember correctly (and please correct me if I’m wrong) the thermal radiation from an atomic bomb in the initial blast is somewhere around 50 million degrees F. The movie rightly shows houses and mannequins bursting into a flame. Steel melts at 2750 F, and lead at 327 degrees F.
Alpha and beta radiation are pretty easy to stop, and sure, a thin sheet of lead such as that lining a common household refrigerator would be up to the task. Gamma radiation, however, is a whole different ball game. Even a small amount of radiation exposure would do great harm (and we’re not just talking about splitting your personality into a large, indestructible hulk). To successfully shield against that, you need lead about 1.3 feet of lead.
At this point Indy should be a flat piece of glowing charcoal. But ok, let’s forget the heat and the concussive force and radiation and accept that Indy safely blasted out of ground zero and was perfectly protected by his lead-lined coffin . . . sorry, refrigerator!
Indy’s magical fridge survives being blasted out of a house that was being crushed and burned to nothingness (along with everything inside of it) fast enough that it could fly out of ground zero, ahead of the blast and catch up AND PASS the speeding car of the bad guys (so we see them get theirs!). It impacts the ground at 100-120 MPH (a conservative estimate given the time in which the car had to accelerate and still be caught by the shock force), and BOUNCES. It bounces REPEATEDLY! This is awesome. I love watching this happen. I laugh every time because of the silliness of this in particular. The same thing happens in “Iron Man” and I laugh there too. With NO OTHER SAFETY MECHANISMS IN PLACE such as might be for a trip over Niagara Falls, of which most people who attempt do not survive, and bouncing around inside his fridge while he impacts over and over, somehow, Indy still opens the lid and walks away almost completely unscathed.
Wow, that was so much fun. Give me another!
Or, I could have saved myself a great deal of time and effort and turned to science. My Google-fu is weak. I just nuked the fridge!