Making Sense of a Fantastical World: Examining Zelda

A panel of experts convened Saturday at 2:30 PM in Hilton 209–211 to discuss scientific concepts from the fantasy world of The Legend of Zelda video game series. In “Hyrule Academy: Science in Tears of the Kingdom,” attendees learned about how phenomena from the game may be scientifically possible. Panelists Ryan A. Consell, Jess Eppstein, Emily A. Finke, and Topher Hunder brainstormed about a number of components of the land of Hyrule, collaboratively forming scientific theories.

The games protagonist, Link, experiences gravity differently in different areas. The panel theorized that Hyrule exists on a smaller planet than Earth, resulting in gravitational quirks. For example, Link’s glider would be too small to be operational on Earth but would be able to function on a smaller planet with a similar atmospheric composition to Earth’s.

Link wears a battery belt that provides power to mechanical devices he interacts with. The panel theorized that the battery transmits power via microwave radiation. Microwave radiation would need to be transmitted directionally toward a power receiver on a device. If Link were to move during this transmission, any moisture that comes into contact with the microwaves would become rapidly heated. As Link is roughly 60% water, this is problematic.

Link is able to connect materials together using his Ultrahand skill. These bonds may only be dissolved by physically shaking the attached components. The panel discussed how this might work. In our world, there is no universal glue. Link may be able to utilize a biological glue, similar to spider silk, to secure items together. Spiders excrete silk from their abdomens. Perhaps Hylians able to excrete adhesive from their hands

Prior to the events of Tears of the Kingdom, Hyrule suffered from intermittent outbreaks of Malice, a poisonous, tar-like substance. In Tears of the Kingdom, Malice is replaced by Gloom, a similar but more poisonous substance. Gloom is alleged to be an evolution of Malice.

The Rito are an anthropomorphic avian race that reside near Hyrule’s Lake Tabantha. It was theorized that the Rito may reproduce like birds, laying eggs and utilizing cloaca. After generations living lakeside, the Rito could conceivably develop aquatic affinity. Much like ducks, Ritos could develop inherent floatation, swimming skills, and enhanced diving abilities.

Gorons are mountain-dwelling rock creatures that frequently appear in the Zelda series. And unlike most creatures in Hyrule (and on Earth), Gorons have an inorganic exterior but are organic creatures. How might an organic creature be made of stone. The panelists theorized that each Goron formed over time, accumulating over a biofilm.

The hard science bent of the panel intrigued attendees, forcing them to more critically think about the fantasy world they’ve spent countless digital hours exploring. The audience peppered the panelists with questions about Hylian life, questions which were answered earnestly and dutifully.

Author of the article