A lot of ghost movies are just about the old dark house, the creaking doors, and some kind of specter from beyond the grave walking again, perhaps with some kind of unfinished business, or perhaps to just be evil and scare the crap out of living people. But that’s so BORING. There’s got to be a scientific explanation for free-floating, full-torso phantasms, and that’s why Ghostbusters has always reigned supreme. The originals mixed particle physics with ancient folklore, and it looks as though Paul Feig‘s new installment will be doing the same thing, right down to the props.
In a new featurette, Dr. James Maxwell, the resident particle physicist on the new movie, as well as a senior post-doctoral associate at MIT’s laboratory for nuclear science (what have YOU done with your life?) was put in charge of making sure the science of Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy)’s paranormal extermination methods survived scrutiny. The proton packs specifically had to be somehow based on real things. After all, what’s the point of just saying “This is a ghost zapper contraption” without it actually being close to genuine?
Dr. Maxwell knew that the original films based their proton packs on the idea of a Cyclotron, which causes particles to spin around at an increasingly rapid pace. But since that’s a bit of an outdated device, he decided the new Ghostbusters should have a Synchrotron in their packs. This device allows the time-dependent guided magnetic field to exist in a ring formation while accelerating the particles therein and synchronizing into a particle beam of increasing kinetic energy. That sounds like it would totally work to zap ghosts.
In order to have that strapped to your back, though, you’d need a superconducting magnet, but since those babies get hotter’n the fires of hell and damnation itself, you’d also need a way to cool it just as rapidly, so Dr. Maxwell thought a cryogen system of storing liquid helium would do the trick. That all sounds very heavy, so don’t try it at home unless you want to hurt your back, and possibly open up a rift in time itself. Because we KNOW you’d cross the streams. You’ve got “Welp, I’m gonna cross them streams” written all over your face. You’re a little stream-crosser, aren’t you?!?!?!
Anyway, it’s great to see that, in a supernatural comedy, there’s still going to be a level of scientific verisimilitude, if for no other reason than to keep us nerds thinking about how real ghosts might be affected by such things. Assuming of course that ghosts are real.
Ghostbusters is set to be released July 15. Let us know what you think of scientific accuracy in your ghost movies below!
And check out our beat-for-beat breakdown of the newly released trailer!
Image: Sony Pictures
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor and a film and TV critic for Nerdist.com. Follow him on Twitter!