Thanos, buddy, I love you, but after all these movies and after all that effort to get those infinity stones, your big triumphant moment where you vaporize half the universe finally comes around and you choose to… SNAP!? Snap. I mean, come on! We’re not all “picasso” here but it’s just uninspired! Think of ALL the other things you could have done! The Thanos clap… The Thanos PUNCH THE SKY! The Thanos Dab! A little dated but still relevant with the youngsters… The Thanos… shadow puppet. The Thanos American Sign Language! It would be great for building awareness of other forms of communication! No? None of those? Well that’s just uncalled for! No one asked for the Thanos Middle Finger Salute! Well now you’re just being childish. *film theory intro plays* HELLO INTERNET, welcome to Film Theory! The show that makes being a know-it-all about all your favorite franchises . . . a snap. Now that we’ve all had time to sit back and reflect on the glory that was “Avengers Infinity War”, I wanted to bring up something that’s been bugging me about it. Don’t get me wrong! I love this movie, it was basically the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” meets “Survivor All Stars.” I mean, I’m sitting there in the theater seeing how many of my favorite Marvel characters are in this thing and I can’t tell where my own gleeful drool ends and the fake butter flavoring on my popcorn begins. (ew.) Yet, in spite of ALL of that, there’s one part of this movie that I found just a bit too implausible to let go. And when I go back and think about it, I actually let A LOT of things go for this movie. I mean, Heimdall can “see everything” but misses Thanos’s ship? Uh, sure. . . we all make mistakes. Thor can just JAM somebody else’s eye into his socket and SEE again? Whatever, I guess he’s a god, the mortal rules don’t apply to him. Dr. Strange has literally the WHOLE movie to use his Time Stone and just DOESN’T? Even though he should see Thanos’s plans for galactic genocide coming a mile away, and he has portals that are able to rip people in half, or at the very least, capture them, which should make pulling off the gauntlet VERY easy. You know, I don’t have an explanation for that – it’s movie magic, okay? And Dr. Strange is my favorite marvel superhero, so he basically gets a free pass all around. No, the problem I had with this movie was none of these things – it was this scene. *avenger infinity war scene of thanos snapping* Did you catch it? It was over in a snap… literally. Thanos snaps his fingers and wipes out half the universe for the sake of resource conservation like some sort of overenthusiastic Al Gore, but there’s a PROBLEM here! The snap ITSELF, the ACTUAL act of CLICKING his fingers like a hulky Dorothy trying to click her heels to get back to Kansas! I mean, COME ON! He’s wearing a giant gauntlet made of “Uru”, a metal. He can’t just snap his fingers while he’s wearing them, right? Think about EVERY movie you’ve ever seen where people are wearing metal armor, every Game of Thrones episode – heck, every British period piece where they wear those dainty tea gloves! Nobody is snapping in those things! I mean, I can’t even unlock my cellphone when there’s a little french fry grease on my fingers so snapping in a gauntlet is near IMPOSSIBLE! And not by the rules of some convoluted comic book universe, but by the basic laws of physics! It’s moments like this where I’m like,
“Marvel! I love you! I count down every release you have like a 6 year-old counting down to Christmas! But sometimes it’s like, “Do you even science, bro?” So I have to call you out, answer the tough yet essential questions here, and show you why Thanos’s finishing move is a deafening dud. TO THE THEORIST MOBILE! If we want to determine whether you can snap while wearing the Infinity Gauntlet, we should first clarify what’s actually making the sound of a snap. “Durrrh MatPat, a snap is just a sound that your finger makes when it hits your palm,” you, the 22 year-old master of acoustics, might be saying. Well, let’s put that assertion to the test. First, snap your fingers. Now, do the same thing but hold your index finger, ring finger and pinky away from your hand. I-I’m complete serious, try it now. Everyone all done? It sounds pretty different, right? Keep trying to snap with your fingers in different arrangements. I mean, sure, it still makes a sound when your middle finger hits your palm, it just doesn’t make the same kind of ‘snapping’ sound. And that’s because snapping is actually acoustically a lot more complicated than we imagine. It’s this thing that most of us learn to do when we’re six or seven, specifically to use as social currency in first grade and yet TO THIS DAY it remains as one of these universal mysteries we don’t really understand about our own bodies! So let’s unravel that mystery right now! TRUE, the thud of your finger hitting your palm makes a sound, and so does your finger as it moves down your thumb and pops off at the end. But actually, both of those sounds are quiet compared to the popping noise that’s made by the air in your hand. Now, that might sound weird, but when you snap, the air that’s trapped in your hand is what’s making the big sound – or, in our case, making half the universe disappear. Let me show ya. Look at the shape of your hand when you’re getting ready to snap. It should look roughly like this. You’ll see that your ring finger and pinky are pressed against your palm, roughly creating a cone that’s closed – or nearly closed – as the bottom. When your middle finger moves towards your palm, the cone changes shape really quickly, which actually forces air up and out of the cone towards your index finger. The reason why most people have a similar hand position when they’re snapping is because this cone shape ends up being the best for amplifying sound. The movement out of your ‘hand cone’ projects sound and the air pressure in one concentrated direction. This is CRUCIAL for the snap and it’s actually the same way that the flared end of a horn or a brass instrument works. The more you can compress the air in the cone with your fast middle finger movement, the faster the air’ll be to rush out of your hand cone, and the louder the snap sounds. That’s why when you move you middle finger faster – *snap snap* – you get a louder snap then when you move your middle finger slower. *slower snap snap* If you wanna snap even louder, you can use two hands. SERIOUSLY! It’s called ‘The Persian Snap’, and while the YouTube tutorials I found were hopeless in teaching ME how to do it effectively, you can hear for yourself how loud it can be! *loud persian snap* So here’s the rub: Thanos IS actually creating the shape with his hands – he’s actually got pretty good form going into the snap – so shouldn’t he be able to create a great sound at the climactic moment? Well, no. Because if you thought that physics has already ruined snapping for ya, ya ain’t seen nothing yet! MORE SCIENCE-ING!! The second issue is one that was actually recognized in the movie – or, at least in the movie filming. Josh Brolin, the actor who plays Thanos, reveals that when he was doing motion capture for the movie, the Infinity Gauntlet was represented by a hockey glove – and that posed some problems. Josh: “And to snap [with] my hockey gloves on, it just doesn’t work.” So, does that mean it would be impossible to snap while wearing any kind of glove on a hand, including one that’s blinged out with magical rocks? Well, not necessarily. One of the issues with snapping while wearing gloves is that your fingers create less friction with the snapping motion. Basically, they’re more slippery, which means that the air in the cone never gets a good ‘pop’. Relative to gloves, human skin has a high coefficient of friction, meaning that you actually need a lot of force to get skin to move on other skin.
*hand waves back* But to give you a comparison, the coefficient of friction on the palm of your hand is about 0.62, The coefficient of friction on cotton is about 0.51, and the coefficient of friction on metal, like aluminum, is 0.42. Since metal has a lower coefficient of friction than a lot of other materials, it’ll naturally be worse at snapping than almost anything else you could wear. That being said, what you lose in friction, you can actually make up for with sheer force. You can try his home with just your fingers – hold your middle finger against your thumb loosely, and snap. It’s kind of dull and quiet, right? Now press your middle finger really hard against your thumb, and snap. It’s much louder. By increasing the force required to overcome the friction, you speed up the moving finger, which in turn speeds up the air that’s being compressed, which in turn makes the snap LOUDER. Could you do the same thing while wearing a magical, metallic gauntlet? Theoretically, yeah! Especially if you’re as strong as a Mad Titan. The other thing that’s actually sitting in Thanos’s favor here is metal’s ability to conduct sound. Going back to what I said a few minutes ago, that snapping moves air a lot like a brass instrument or a horn, have you ever stopped to wonder WHY horns are made of metal and brass? Well, it has a lot to do with the fact that metal is actually a great sound conductor. This is because, at the molecular level, metal molecules are arranged in a Lattice Structure, which just means that molecules repeat in the same patterns over and over and over again. When you have that kind of molecular structure, it’s able to carry sound waves through in a very uniform way – preserving the sound wave and either allowing it to bounce right off, or projecting it outward. Fabrics, like cotton or leather, that you might use for other kinds of gloves, have a totally different molecular structure because they’re polymers. Instead of being able to preserve the sound, polymers, which are long and tangly, break up the sound waves and absorb ’em, making them really bad sound conductors. That’s why fabrics are used to absorb sound. So it seems like everything should be aligning for the Infinity Gauntlet to make one tremendous and thunderous snap like you hear in the movie! EXCEPT, there’s one huge factor getting in the way. You know how we said that metals transfer the forces applied to them into the surrounding air? Well, that’s assuming that AIR is the thing that’s surrounding them. Again, think about a trumpet or a horn. There’s air vibrating inside the horn, caused by your mouth blowing all that nice air and spit, and it’s transferred to the outside, all along the horn, and through the metal’s ability to vibrate as the cone widens at the end. The Infinity Gauntlet, though, has a problem, which is that Thanos’s hand is in it! If we were able to take his hand out, you’d actually get a lot of reverberation from a snapping sound, because the metal would be free to vibrate with air on either side. But because this is the Infinity Gauntlet, and was made specifically FOR Thanos by the Dwarf King, we know that this gauntlet genuinely fits like a glove. “The glove too fit, you can’t acquit.” That means that when Thanos snaps, his fingers inside the gauntlet will actually be deadening his own snap, with most of the sound energy simply being transferred into his own skin. This isn’t to say that there won’t be any sound when Thanos snaps, just that, instead of an actual snap, or even a kind of metallic clunk, we’re just more likely to get a metal grinding sound from how hard he has to press to get the snap to work in the first place! It’s… not exactly impressive for the Master of the Universe. After researching all of this for the last ‘couple weeks, I wanted to see if anyone had tested snapping in metal gloves. So, as I was literally finishing the last couple sentences of this episode, I found out that my buddy Kyle Hill over on ‘Because Science’ actually did an episode covering this topic a couple weeks ago. He takes a VERY different approach to this, where instead of diving into the acoustics, he goes for the practical physics, and actually tries on a bunch of different gauntlet recreations from one of my other favorite creators on YouTube, Tony Swatton from ‘Sword & The Stone’, who makes all kinds of movie and video game weapons in real life. If you wanna see some of the stuff that they put to the test, because, you just can’t get enough of fictional gauntlet physics, well, definitely check THAT one out. AND YES, before you run off to the comments and remind me that Thanos literally has the power of ALL THE UNIVERSE’S in his hands so he can make his snap sound like anything he wants – *fart noise* *wah noise* *a dying Stormtrooper* *demoman taunt saying KA-BOOM* And at the end of the day, REMEMBER. It’s just a theory – A FILM THEORY. AAAAAND- Now that you know Thanos’s dirty little secret behind his lame finishing move you can ruin Infinity War for all your friends and family! But it doesn’t have to stop with Marvel Movies – HOHONO! There’s a whole world of bizarre physics out there to make you and everyone you know weirded out, or paranoid about pretty much anything you could ever want! Basically, the thesis of Game Theory and Film Theory’s channels. In all seriousness, taking the stuff we take for granted everyday and learning about how it actually works, whether it’s how we snap, why your toaster flips bread in the air, or even why you can see through glass has always been mindblowing to me. If you’re into the same kinds of things as I am, well, you need to check out our sponsor for today’s episode, which is audible.com, where you can tap into an entire library of content on everyday physics. Learn about how hybrid cars actually work, while on your commute by listening to ‘The Physics of Everyday Things’, or understand how the touch screen on your phone works while trolling through social media on your touch screen phone, while you listen to ‘Stuff Matters’. This is suddenly a really meta sponsorship, but SERIOUSLY! This stuff is amazing. And because it’s all in audiobook form, it’s just getting smarter through the process of osmosis! Just listen and let the knowledge pass into your brain. If you haven’t tried audible yet, now is the time to do it, because they have a whole bunch of new ways you can get the service and try out a BIG discount. All during July, if you’re a member of amazonPrime, which let’s face it, most of us are you can get audible for $4.95 a month for the first three months, which is basically getting three months for the price of one regular month. Just that ALONE gets you all the way through the summer and the beach reading that you’re gonna be doing except without the glare on your screen from where you actually have to read a book. When you’re a member, you have also get an audiobook credit EVERY MONTH, so you can try out new books as they roll out all year long and add them to your library. But, if it turns out you don’t like the one that you picked up, you can just exchange it and get a different one – no problem! And one other nice thing is that as you build up an audible library, you keep it forever! Something I hate about subscription services is that if I need to give it up, I lose everything that’s in my subscription library. But with audible, ya keep everything ya own in your library even if you leave. There’s also now mutiple ways to GET audible! Online, if you’re watching from a computer, at audible.com/filmtheorists, or if you’re watching from your phone and you really like sending text messages, you can also text FILMTHEORISTS –
eff eye ell emm tee ayche ee oh arr eye ess tee ess to 500-500 and they’ll send you a custom link to sign up. We also just have the link right in the description below, so honestly you should just click that there and start jamming out to the smouth sounds of practical physics or literally any other topic you can want! I know the FNAF books are out on audible so if you don’t wanna bother reading through those things, you can just listen to ’em – and try to unearth the lore for yourself. Good luck with that one. Anyway, that’s audible.com/filmtheorists, link is in the description. Seriously guys, if you wanna get smarter this summer, just listen to a couple books. It is totally worth your time. AND NOW if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to that Purge episode that I promised last week and that didn’t… come out this week. Sorry, it was actually a lot tougher to figure out than I expected. SEE YA THEN!