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The Real Science Behind MASS EFFECT’s Awesome Weaponry

I escape virtually. Some people blow off steam by working out, others by reading, still others by trying to perfectly align their steps with the separations in sidewalk pavement; I play video games. I love to escape into a virtual world, and my mental exodus is easier when that world, even if fantastical, is believable. That’s a big reason why my favorite series of video games is probably BioWare’s Mass Effect franchise. The weapons are especially plausible because there is real science behind them.

In my latest Because Science, I’m taking a closer look at the armaments of the Mass Effect universe. Most races are outfitted with guns that use “electromagnetic acceleration” to launch sand grain-sized projectiles at enemies. But is that really possible? And if it is, would a hypervelocity sand grain really do video game-style damage?

Mass Effect’s projectile premise makes sense. Electricity and magnetism are intertwined in such a way that one can cause and affect the other. So, it is true that if you apply an electric current in the right way, you can create a magnetic field capable of accelerating a projectile, and vice versa. But does the science go further than that for Mass Effect? You’ll have to watch my latest episode above to find out.


Check out my last video on how many of Willy Wonka’s fizzy lifting drinks you’d need in order to float, subscribe to this playlist to stay current with the show, buy a Because Science shirt (you know why), and follow me on Twitter to give me a suggestion for the next episode!

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