It would be a terrible fate, wouldn't it? To be crushed and incinerated by a falling moon in just three day's time. It's a highly unlikely fate--the driving force behind the classic N64 game The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask--but it poses a fascinating thought experiment. How long would it take a moon to fall to a planet's surface? Did Link really have 72 hours to save Termina?
In my latest episode of Because Science, I'm using astrophysics to see if a nearly 20-year-old video game is astronomically accurate -- as I'm want to do. There have been many nerdy videos on the dynamics of Majora's Mask's sinister moon, but all of them have used in-game estimations to see what would really happen. Instead, if we use the mass and orbital distance of our planet and our moon, we've have a real world comparison that we can count on.
If you take the game seriously, science says 72 hours is...almost exactly right.
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