Whether a Transformer is rolling out or riding a dinosaur, it needs a power source. In all the Transformers canon up to this point, that power source has been “energon.” A glowing, liquid pink fuel typically stored in cubes, energon is the incredibly energy-dense blood, food, and sustenance of all the Transformers from Optimus Prime to Megatron.
Just one of these cubes holds enough energy to run the most powerful Transformer ever.
Energon is a lot like gasoline—it contains an incredible amount of energy in small amounts. Just 10 grams of gasoline contains the same energy bound up in a 1-gram meteor impact. Energon is much the same. According to the Transformers episode “Thief in the Night,” one cube of the stuff contains the same amount of energy as 1,000 barrels of oil. That’s 6 trillion Joules of energy—the same as in 1.5 kilotons of TNT.
But if you mess around with the units a bit, you can get something even more interesting than Transformer TNT.
Power is the same thing as energy expended over a certain time. Think of it this way: It takes a certain amount of energy to run your coffee maker at any one time. The rating on the side—100 watts of power for example—is the energy the maker uses up each second. If you run the coffee maker all day, the energy required adds up to give you a total energy that the coffee maker used. If you know the total energy expended over some time, you can work backwards to get the power.
Work backwards from 6 trillion Joules of energy and you can convert the energy contained in one energon cube to 1.6 gigawatt hours—supplying 1.6 gigajoules of energy every second for one hour. Apparently, this is what it takes to power a Transformer (but too much energon and they get drunk).
But what else could that gargantuan amount of power run? Only the most powerful Transformer ever created Marty!
Let’s smash universes together and imagine a situation where Optimus Prime is working with Doc Brown from the Back to the Future series. The Doc notoriously needs 1.21 gigawatts to power his modified DeLorean’s “flux capacitor” and travel through time. (Yes, “jiggawatts” was a mispronunciation of the SI unit. However, the movie was pretty spot-on with that value, as the average energy of a lightning bolt over 1 second is between 1.0 and 1.5 gigawatts.) Now imagine that Optimus gives Doc two things: one energon cube and the “AllSpark.”
If you gave the AllSpark to Doc Brown’s DaLorean, it would create a flux capacitor-powered Transformer able to traverse time. Just one energon cube could power the time-traveling robot for a whole hour with power left over to smash past and future Michael Bay-style. Not even a burning sword-wielding metal tyrannosaurus-riding transformed big rig could take down an enemy that could ensure you were never constructed in the first place.
I think the most appropriate name for this time-traveler is “Gigawatt,” but I’m sure you can help me think up something better. Something with “flux” perhaps…
Kyle Hill is the Science Editor of Nerdist Industries. Follow the continued geekery on Twitter @Sci_Phile.