Look at it. The Water Temple — bane of your Ocarina of Time existence. But put two water bottles-worth of iron on your feet and you could get through it. Let me explain.
Water wants to make everything float, but it doesn’t always have the ability — the buoyant force — to do so. The buoyant force water presses up on objects with is equal to the weight of water that the object is trying to move out of the way. You wouldn’t be able to get in a pool, for example, without your body displacing a body-worth of water.
More technically, you can calculate the buoyant force if you known the volume of water displaced by an object and the density of the water. If the buoyant force is more than or equal to the object’s weight, like it is for a beach ball, the object floats. If it is less than the weight, the object will submerge completely and sink.
In Ocarina of Time, the only way to get into the dreaded Water Temple is to put on a pair of iron-gilded boots that let Link sink. How heavy would they have to be?
To find out, we need to know how much of Link’s buoyancy the boots have to overcome. Whenever he surfaces after a dive, it looks like the tops of Link’s shoulders and his head remain above water. This tells us that the buoyant force the water is pressing up on him with is more than the weight of water the rest of his body displaces, and that Link is much less dense than water, which is weird. Must be a Hylian thing.
Because Link is less dense than water, the Iron Boots would have to increase his average density enough for him to sink. That means adding more mass onto his volume – like adding too much cargo to a ship.
If Link’s head and shoulders make up maybe one-fifth of his body’s volume, then roughly speaking his density would be around 800 kilograms per cubic meter. We know this because the ratio of submerged to above-water volume is proportional to the ratio of his density and the density of water. Icebergs have the same problem. Because ice is less dense than water – 917 kilograms per cubic meter compared to water’s 1000 kilograms per cubic meter – the exposed tip of an iceberg is reliably about a tenth of its total volume.
So, to get Link’s average density beyond that of water, we’d have to add more than 15 kilograms onto the 17-year-old’s maybe 75-liter volume and 60 kilogram mass. In other words, if the Iron Boots could add 33+ pounds to Link, he would start sinking.
Split this up and Link needs 7.5 kilograms or 16.5 pounds of iron per foot to cancel his buoyancy. And given that iron is super dense (almost eight times more dense than water), he would only need about 950 cubic centimeters of the stuff per foot – less than would fill your water bottle.
Could all that iron fit on two of a 17-year-old’s boots? Probably. I’ll give the Hero of Time the benefit of the doubt.
Oh, and here’s an isometric map of the Water Temple. You can thank me later.
Kyle Hill is the Science Editor at Nerdist Industries. Follow on Twitter @Sci_Phile.