The Marvel Cinematic Universe has delivered audiences countless amazing and unbelievable events, but a group of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology recently uncovered that, after being inspired by the events of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos' snap while wearing the Infinity Gauntlet was likely impossible for him to do. While we've seen a number of physical impossibilities become a reality in the franchise, the research noted that a key component of being able to snap is a certain amount of friction, with the lack of friction on the metal gauntlet preventing the necessary friction between surfaces to be able to adequately snap.
As noted by EurekaAlert!, "Using high-speed imaging, automated image processing, and dynamic force sensors, the researchers analyzed a variety of finger snaps. They explored the role of friction by covering fingers with different materials, including metallic thimbles to simulate the effects of trying to snap while wearing a metallic gauntlet, much like Thanos."
The team discovered that snapping was "the fastest human angular acceleration yet measured, almost three times faster than the rotational acceleration of a professional baseball pitcher's arm."
"When I first saw the data, I jumped out of my chair," Assistant Professor Saad Bhamla of the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering shared. "The finger snap occurs in only seven milliseconds, more than twenty times faster than the blink of an eye, which takes more than 150 milliseconds."
Undergraduate student at Georgia Tech Raghav Acharya added, "Our results suggest that Thanos could not have snapped because of his metal armored fingers. So, it's probably the Hollywood special effects, rather than actual physics, at play! Sorry for the spoiler."
Interestingly, the study was at least in part inspired by Infinity War, largely due to the lack of scientific investigation that had been conducted into the physics of snapping. Despite it being such an innocuous gesture, the research pointed out just how specific this behavior is to humans and how reliant it is upon our physiology. The research showed how, with friction between fingertips being either increased or decreased, it made it more difficult to build up enough force or acceleration to adequately snap.
"The compression of the skin makes the system a little bit more fault-tolerant," doctoral student Elio Challita pointed out. "Reducing both the compressibility and friction of the skin make it a lot harder to build up enough force in your fingers to actually snap."
Funnily enough, the lack of friction making it impossible for Thanos to snap would also make it impossible for Iron Man to snap in Avengers: Endgame.
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