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How to Go Super Saiyan, with Science!

The foundational anime and manga Dragon Ball Z has hugely impacted pop culture over the last 30 years. Its visual lexicon has even made it into sports culture. And as a result, generations of kids now know what “going Super Saiyan” means: instantaneously unlocking enormous potential in a flash of yellow. But in a fictional universe filled with magical dragons, talking cats, and hyperbolic time chambers, is there a way to make sense of DBZ‘s culturally transcendent transformation with science?

I think so, but before you watch, Because Science has—right now!—its own channel on Facebook and Youtube, and its own presence on Instagram and Twitter. You can subscribe for a direct line to sciencey goodness. And you should, since BS is soon transitioning into posting only on the new channels. Go, now!

In this episode, I’m trying to explain the effects of going Super Saiyan—a glowing aura, random arcs of electricity, hair standing on end, flight, and energy orb generation. Is there some theory in science that can account for everything we observe? The canon relates these phenomena to “ki,” or a kind of “life energy.” I think “life energy” is close, it just needs a little…jolt.

After you watch the new episode above, check out my last video on who would win in a showdown between Darth Vader and a xenomorph, buy a Because Science shirt, mug, hat, or collectible pin, and follow me on Twitter to give me a suggestion for the next episode or on Instagram.

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