Superhero movies ask us to suspend our disbelief, but one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most iconic moments has been proven impossible for different reasons than you might expect.
Thanos’ snap at the end of Avengers: Infinity War led to half the population of the entire universe disappearing into thin air. While the supernatural part of that is clearly not realistic, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (via livescience) found that the act of Thanos snapping his fingers while wearing the Infinity Gauntlet was actually impossible to pull off.
According to the study, a finger snap is the “fastest acceleration of the human body ever measured”, and the physics involved should have been impossible for Thanos while wearing the gauntlet.
Basically, the study says the acceleration of a finger while it’s snapping is incredibly high — three times as fast as the acceleration of a professional baseball player’s arm during a pitch. A snap only takes seven milliseconds, which is more than 20 times faster than the blink of an eye.
In order to pull off such a fast maneuver, the study says the most important component is friction. Researchers found that attempting to snap while wearing metal gloves doesn’t generate enough friction.
“Our results suggest that Thanos could not have snapped because of his metal armored fingers,” author Raghav Acharya said. “So, it’s probably the Hollywood special effects, rather than actual physics, at play!”
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Regardless of its feasibility, the MCU is still dealing with the aftermath of the Avengers‘ mission to reverse the impact of the snap. Up next, MCU fans are looking forward to Spider-Man: No Way Home, which releases next month. For more, check out five burning questions we have after the new Spider-Man trailer.
Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN. You can find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.