Because Science

# How Long Does It Take to Charge DRAGON BALL Z’s Spirit Bomb?

The anime and manga Dragon Ball Z is a show of extremes: yelling, giant explosive energy balls, eye-popping speed. And the best example of these extremes may be the “spirit bomb” — the attack can apparently destroy entire planets. We’ve seen it only a few times, and when we have, it took forever to prepare. But because of the way DBZ is cut, we don’t know if a spirit bomb takes minutes, hours, or even days to charge. Maybe science can help.

In my latest Because Science, I’m using chemistry, physics, and math to get a time value for a proper spirit bomb charge. First we need to know how much energy we’re actually talking about. King Kai, who first teaches the technique to Goku, says the attack can “destroy the planet you’re standing on,” and we have a decent estimate for that enormous value. It’s called the “gravitational binding energy” of a planet. It’s how much energy you’d have to input to, you know, Alderaan it.

The energy that goes into a spirit bomb doesn’t come from Goku — he siphons it from “grass and trees, from people and animals, from inanimate objects and the atmosphere…You can also learn to tap into the astounding powers of the Sun.” So next we need to get energy values from all of these sources, and finally, calculate charging time.

So how long does it take? I can’t say in episodes, but I do come up with something in the new episode above!

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