How Mario Can Fly – SOLVED! | The SCIENCE!… of Mario
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How Mario Can Fly – SOLVED! | The SCIENCE!… of Mario

September 10, 2019


Dear Nintendo, dude I got a ton of math to get through this episode. We gotta get through rocket science, like real, actual rocket science, aerospace engineering, and, well, that’s about it, but I always take too much time doing these intros and today, it’s time to rock! Hi, it’s me Austin And I’m here for one thing Nintendo. I have come for your best. I have come for the big man himself Mario! I’ve come to prove conclusively once and for all that this man this weird, stout, stony-eyed plumber not only makes no freakin’ sense, but should be dead! …well, maybe, or maybe not. Maybe Mario’s fine. But in order to find out, we’re gonna have to get this show started with the question I asked myself- the thing that set me down this wily, twisting rabbit hole of chaos and SCIENCE! How the heck does Mario fly? Mario’s had the power of flight going all the way back almost 30 years. In Super Mario Bros 3 with the super leaf, the Tanooki suit and the P wing, but holy smokes- Nintendo was just getting started There’s a magic feather in Super Mario World which gave you a frickin’ superhero cape, blue Yoshi that for some strange reason could fly while holding a turtle in their mouth, and my personal favorite, the winged cap in Super Mario 64 and while there’s been flying iterations all over the place, from the return of the super leaf in the more modern titles, red stars in Super Mario Galaxy, and the possession of flying goombas in Super Mario Odyssey, today we’re gonna be looking at the granddaddy of them all, the creme de la creme, the winged cap from Super Mario 64 because, well, I want to. Sue me. Super Mario 64 came out forever ago, but, you know, I wasn’t a youtuber back then. In fact, nobody was. In 1996, when Super Mario 64 came out, YouTube wouldn’t be showing up for almost another decade. It was the dark ages of the internet, but more importantly, this is the game where we get the most data and the most interesting look into the weird, counterintuitive, yet strangely fascinating world that almost every single Mario game takes place on. Straightforward, airplane-ish flight mechanics are… well, simple isn’t quite the right word, but achievable. In order for something to fly, it has to create lift. And how is lift created? Well, that’s a complicated question, actually. There are two main explanations for how a wing creates lift that allow something to fly- the Bernoulli-based explanations and the Newtonian-based explanations. Doug McLean talks about this in-depth in his book: “Understanding Aerodynamics: Arguing From the Real Physics,” but both explanations are somewhat incomplete but do paint part of the picture. The “Bernoulli” explanation states that when air over the top side of a wing takes a longer path over the wing than the bottom, it still gets to the other side at the same time as the airflow below the wing- even though it’s traveling a longer distance. This, in Theory™, creates a lower pressure system over the wing, which creates a pulling force. The problem with this explanation alone is that, well, air is a fluid, like water, and as a result, it doesn’t always (and in fact, it frequently doesn’t) actually meet up on the other side of the wing at the same time, which is kind of a key sticking point for this specific theory. The “Newtonian” model is a bit simpler: the wing redirects air down, which creates an upward force. This explanation is particularly helpful when looking at a paper airplane flying, because it’s the angle of attack from the paper that creates a functioning wing, not the shape of the wing itself. The problem with both of these explanations is that neither of them separately, or even together[?] describe all the things that makes a flying thing fly- but that’s okay because, honestly, we’re not theoretical aerospace engineers. It’s not important for us to know the exact explanation for why flight happens- which is good because, “current”ly, there’s no actual agreement on what the full story is- but engineers have figured out how to fly anyway, because of course they have. We’re not gonna let something as trivial as “not fully understanding the science” get in the way of building new technology that holds people’s fates in their hands like tiny birds, are we? What we know is that, in order to have lift, you need to have something to be a wing, and air has to flow over it. And we have a formula for that: Air density * velocity² / 2 * the lift coefficient * the wing area All these things together give you lift- in Newtons. It takes 9.8 Newtons of lift to make one kilogram hover on planet earth, so you know what that means we’re gonna need some numbers The first one is the easiest Mario’s flying speed we need to know this because it directly affects how much lift is created by whatever counts as a wing on this guy using Mario’s Canon height of 5:1 is a ruler I can figure out the distance between two similar bricks in cn world’s pyramid using some trap Mathematics getting a distance of four point three eight to seven meters before the pattern of pricks repeats Then it’s a simple job of counting how many of those lengths is on one side of this pyramid twelve and how long it takes to fly that distance and boom we get a flying speed of thirteen point 13 meters four seconds or 25 miles per hour not very fast but five speed is really important because Forward velocity is probably the most important part of flight next things get a little bit more complicated We got to figure out the area of Mario’s wings which like can’t get it simply cannot be the wings on his hat I love to claim that things make no freakin sense the drop of a Hat but I am not comfortable Counting those as wings the area of wings is determined by looking at what’s called the plan form of the wing surface which For the sake of simplicity is just the top down look at the way now if we make his whole body wing which is Somewhat problematic because the airflow over non rotating cylinders like Mario’s arms generally don’t produce any lift at all But whatever let’s be generous here and vulvar at it include the Hat wings we get a surface area of one point two square meters if we take the average lift coefficient of the human as being at best 1.5 as determined by this study done in 1964 by the United States Navy where they just put a bunch of dudes in a wind tunnel and crank the wind speed up to over 144 knots or 266 km/h or 165 miles per hour which like god bless the days before medical and scientific Ethics boards using just his body and the wings on his hat Mario would be generating 14 Newton’s of lift at standard atmospheric pressures on earth which is barely enough force to lift something weighing one and a half kilograms or 3.3 pounds but well The astute among you may have noticed that we have no idea how much mario weighs for all we know maybe he’s made of some superlight mega untense material Maybe he’s actually a robot made out of tissue paper who knows in fact nobody on the entire planet knows Mario’s weight It’s a complete mystery so Guess we’re dead in the water. Wait a minute…. That’s it! *Maniacal laughter* *Inhales* *Maniacal laughter* I HAVE DONE IT AGAIN! Water is the key to everything! Nintendo has tried to hide the canon weight of Mario from us so they can continue to get away with whatever weirdness counts as physics in their games, but they overlooked one key thing. I am f*****g Unstoppable! Before we get to the good stuff, we got to figure out the gravity of the Mario universe. In my experience, gravity, in most platformers, is significantly higher than it is in our world. It may seem lower because everyone jumps so high, but I think it has more to do with how beefy their glutes are than anything else. You see falling at a rate of 9.8. Meters per second would be agonizingly slow in a platformer game and Mario is no exception. Each game varies slightly based on frame rate and just general game feel, but using good old pixel measurements in Super Mario 64, I figured out that the acceleration due to gravity, in that game, is 26.12 meters per second squared or over 2 point 6 6 G’s. Two and a half times as powerful as Earth’s surface gravity. No wonder his glutes are so powerful! Yikes! Now that we know that, we can do the really fun part: rocket science. How? Super Mario Sunshine Believe it or not, this game is the key to figuring out how much Mario weighs and boy is it absolutely possible, all thanks to that frickin jetpack: the Flash Liquidiser Ultra Dousing Device, or F.LU.D.D. for short, is capable of many things, perhaps the most interesting thing being the the ability to launch Mario up into the air. Since the water tank is easily viewable on Mario’s back, we can measure its internal volume using pixel measurements. Mario’s height, again, and the volume of a sphere. Four over three times pi times the radius cubed. Doing so, we find out that a clocks in at a horrifyingly high capacity of a hundred and ten liters. Now, knowing that each tank holds enough water for twelve and a quarter jetpack launches, we can figure out so much: that each launch uses 8.98 kilograms and/or liters of water, that a full jetpack weighs over 242 pouds, blah blah blah… Determining the nozzle size of the flood to be little over a half a meter wide, we can get its area, which allows us to get the velocity of the water leaving the nozzle, which turns out to be 69.48 meters per second. This is important because knowing the mass of the fuel used, plus the mass of the F.L.U.D.D., which is basically a rocket at this point, and the speed at which the exhaust exits the F.L.U.D.D., we can figure out exactly how much Mario weighs based on how quickly he accelerates up. The last number we need is Mario’s rate of acceleration, which is a whopping 345 meters per second squared. Using this derivation of a simple Newtonian rocket formula, that yes I know is not properly simplified, we can plug in our known variables, hit enter, and boom eighty-nine kilograms and, just like that, we’ve done something nobody in the history of the world has managed to do: figure out Mario’s weight. Alright, having made video game history by figuring out how much Mario weighs, and knowing that the gravity on Mario’s planet is two point six six Gs that means we need to create two Thousand three hundred and forty nine point four five Newton’s of lift in order to get him to fly with our current mass only pulling 14 Newtons that’s a gap of two thousand three hundred and thirty-five Newtons. Yikes Okay, so how do we fix this problem? well there’s a few variables we can mess with we can assume that Mario is way more efficiently built for flying than a human which like No But fine. Keeping all the numbers the same in order to pull this off. He need to have a lift coefficient of eighteen point eight Which is freakin Impossible.No Seriously the most efficient flying machines in the world have lift coefficients of like 2.5 No, no way no way is this it and Mario is not the most Aerodynamically efficient thing in the entire universe just look at that big goofy face. So no that can’t possibly be it there is Something we can change however something that honestly isn’t even that much of a stretch that air density earth has an average air density at sea level of 1.2 kilograms per cubic meter that means for every cubic meter of space there’s 1.2 kilograms of mass interestingly Gravity and the air density are closely related because higher gravity means that more gas is pulled downward, which means it condenses more But even if we multiply normal earth density by Mario’s gravity. We still come up short with the lift coefficient dropping only to 7.08 which is still way too high, but while gravity is an important factor in air density It’s not the only one the most important factor is Ultimately how much gas is actually in the atmosphere. Take Venus for example. Venus has a surface gravity of about .9 G’s It’s almost got the gravity of Earth, but it’s not quite there But the atmospheric pressure of Venus is over 90 times that of Earth’s because of the voracious volcanic activity, high heat that keeps basically everything evaporated in the Specific combination of gases that are native to that planet. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that you definitely Melt to death in seconds if you were to set foot on Venus unprotected if you could generate enough thrust You’d be able to fly on Venus Just using your arms and body as a wing surface and in Mario’s planet if we raise the air density to 15 kilograms per cubic meter only 12 and a half times the density of Earth’s That means that with the hat and the right body placement and speed Mario is Totally capable of creating enough lift to fly this means several things In the franchise make a ton of sense why he can only fly top speed in the early games And why he eventually falls down to the ground he’s not maintaining enough thrust to keep flying But the tanuki suit and the cape give him just enough extra surface area that he can achieve liftoff and glide Just from his running speed this also means that the wing cap doesn’t really work by creating lift at all what it does the most Important thing that it does is create Constant thrust instead of thinking of it as a wing cap we should be thinking of it as a propeller hat Constantly providing Mario with forward momentum, which allows him to achieve Infinite flight and you know what else this means don’t you the planet of Super Mario the one we spend so much time on Cannot be Earth. Mario cannot be a human being Everyone everyone on the planet is a vaguely humanoid looking alien Which honestly I take is a thing of comfort it certainly makes Mario’s height less Contentious although what that gives New Donk City all about Duh, so that’s how Mario flies There’s just a lot more Atmosphere on Mario’s home planet is it because of all those volcanoes and Bowser likes to hang out in who knows But hey at least Mario isn’t dead. At least, not today. (MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) Sincerely ,Austin P.S. All right, all right. I made a mistake last time Well a couple of tiny ones But one really big one those of you who watched my getting over it video will have noticed that I like an idiot Got my newtons wrong one kilogram on earth takes 9.8 Newtons to live F equals MA force the Newton’s is mass kilograms times acceleration 9.8. Meters per second squared Earth’s gravity equals 9.8. Newtons you might think this means I got all my Forces math wrong in the video and fair, you can think that but I didn’t and here’s why I use Kilogram forces for all my math and only converted to Newtons at the very end of the research for the purposes of the video Since Newtons are considered more acceptable units of force than kilogram forces Why did I do that because I used the kitchen scale for all my math a scale while appearing to measure in kilograms and pounds actually measures Kilogram force or pound force the force exerted by whatever mass is placed on top of it under Earth’s gravity And that’s why I use it for all my math It’s not the most scientifically appropriate unit but people in engineering Fields use it all the time because they’re constantly using weights in their machines. I screwed up because it was 2:00 a.m. When I was doing my research, I’m a parent. I’m chronically tired and well sometimes silly mistakes happen my bad(Chuckles) The math and the conclusions are all still correct. Just you know irritating to anybody who took a high school physics course Choking up my own spit. I’ll try to do better next time where I guess that would be this time Thank you everyone for watching my video on how Mario fly is pretty awesome. I didn’t expect all the math to check out That’s pretty cool quick shout-out to shatter e45 who was an aerospace Engineering major on my discord channel for helping me clear up a few misconceptions I had about lift And if you liked this video be sure to subscribe to the game theorist give it a like to balance out all the people who Find my voice irritating. Tell me how awesome you think I am in the comments, and you know watch some other videos? I’m sure you can watch the one about the Mario’s a Sociopath is a good one hood when the Olympics is a good one by Matt. There’s also mine If you want to know Mario’s dead if you want some good Mario’s dead stuff you watch my one on uhh Mario Galaxy That’s it. I’m gonna go now boom sucka. See you later Captioning by Chicken Nuggets. Check out the Super Mario Galaxy Video on the left. It’s a good one!

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  1. There is a problem though. You can easily slow mario down to less than a meter per second in SM64 without falling. Don’t tell me this little wing cap also holds mario up against gravity.

  2. Definitely not an expert at all, but wouldn’t assuming that Mario’s worlds has all of these different atmospheric properties change the rocket science numbers, therefore changing his weight??

  3. Why does he start the video going hiiii itssss meeeeeee AUUUUUUUUUUSTIN!

    P.s. I’m not hating on Austin I’m just saying the intro’s hilarious.

  4. Mario can only fly because you pretended he has incredible lift coefficient and that the planet has really high air density

  5. Wait a minute… why would Mario have a propeller hat in SM64? He doesn’t have constant thrust. He is gliding, like the cape in SMW.

  6. The stars coming off all of the flying hat(Tanukii suit,cape) suggests a Magical device

    Science tells us the rules of the Universe, Magic (will and mind over matter and reality through life energy manipulation) allows us to bend or break those rules…….and Princess Peach is a confined Elemental Sorceress and Magic user (if a suppressed emotions pacifistic one cause her truly raging could crack the world in 2 with a mere thought)….so magic is a think in the Mushroom Kingdom

    And no, Mario and Luigi are Humans from Brooklyn but are fated to suffer the same fate as Alice in Wonderland(Lion,Witch,Wardrobe) where they must save/protect another world. Princess Peach however looks the way she does to Mario and Luigi becaue of an permanant Illusion of her magical nature (she isn't trying to be deceitful …she just appears Human to Mario and Luigi and we see her through their eyes)….Princess Peach is actually the same thing as Bowser and her subjects

  7. I got my first Nintendo on my 7:th birthday i think and i Also got ”super mario 64”. Keep in mind that I WAS BORN IN 2006

  8. "we're gonna let 'not completely understanding how it works' stop us from building a machine that based on it"
    top 10 difference between scientist and engineers, mattpatt vs austin
    which reminds me…..matt calculated marios weight too….. imma cross reference yer 89 kg

  9. I know this is late to respond, I'm terrible at watching new vids when they come out… Anyways.
    Shouldn't you be taking into consideration the fact that Mario's weight MAY be different in different game, since as you said yourself, "Most video games do not have Earth's gravity of 9.8m/s and instead have a mush stronger one", so wouldn't that play a part in determining how all of the rocket science would function out? I mean, Since it's not cannon, we do have those things to deal with, right? For example, I'm sure the rocket's velocity and acceleration would be different if the gravity were stronger than that of Earths, making the amount of lift he would get from each jet pack propulsion vary on his weight as well.
    I might be wrong. I may be WAY off base, but I just want to remind you, even if they belong to the same company and same game series and characters, the Science doesn't always remain the same. Yes, we got lucky with Mario's Height as being Cannon, but without it, it's really hard to tell viewers accurate numbers. No harm intended, and I know you spent a lot of time and math doing these videos, which I'm very grateful for, I just wanted to add a little "What if?". Please keep making videos! I really enjoy them! Thank you!

  10. Mario doesn't actually 'fly' with the winged cap; it's more similar to a glider (not handglider, it's like a lightweight aeroplane without a propeller – you get yanked about a mile in a matter of seconds and you lift off and you can go down fast and then pull up to go upwards but ultimately you are descending) – only way to actually gain height is to ride thermals.

  11. Don't worry dude, I like your voice – it's weird but very 'listenable'. I'm pretty sure you don't sound like that when buying stuff at the supermarket or whatever you guys call them over their (I'm a Brit).

    But hang on, we're talking about a video game character that can rocket through space without needing air, yet will drown in water. My conclusion: it's pointless to find any logic in Mario games, it may as well be a world of magic; It has mushrooms that make you grow massively in size, sapient talking mushrooms, bipedal turtles, a flower that gives you the ability to throw fire, all the various power-ups in the Galaxy games, etc. Plus, how does the metal cap work? Or the vanish cap?

  12. I hate this annoying dude. Mat Pat should just have his own channels. This annoying dude is clearly copying mat pat and not very well. It's like mat pat gives him the uninteresting leftovers to research and everyone is giving him pity views when i bet overall everyone hates this dude he tries waaaaay too hard and it doesn't work in his favor or at least thats my opinion.

  13. For all those asking if Austin considered the changed gravity while finding Mario's weight,
    I think by "weight", he meant MASS, which remains same irrespective if the change in gravity.

  14. I love austin so much oml whenever i click on a game theory video i go "oooh game theory" then i see the google drive thing and i go "OOOOH AUSTIN!!"

  15. Dear Austin

    I want to thank you for makeing these vids because i learn from you screaming science and more random junk you do i learn more from you than SCHOOL!!!

  16. One thing left : When the power-up disappears while Mario is in the air, he falls
    (and feels the hard kinetic energy in at least every Mario 3d games (except 3D Land and 3D World which are in my opinion 3D versions of the NSMB serie))

  17. Using the combination of angle of attack and shapes that block direct airflow over the top of the wing while allowing it over the bottom, wings create low(er) pressure vortices over the top of the wing and high(er) pressure vortices (spinning the opposite direction) over the bottom. So yeah, it's a combination of the two. I'm curious how supersonic flight works because controlling airflow at near Mach is crazy… Find a game a do a video on it! lol

  18. MatPat:uses Science
    Also Mat:this is Just a theory A GAAAAMEE THEORY
    Austin:WATER IS THE KEY
    also Austin:Sincerely,Austin

  19. 10:10 revise your calculations my dear, it is impossible just by watching mario's height that the volume of the water reservoir would be even more than 20l and that is exaggerated. If you like we can share info and clear this misunderstanding.

    Yours truly. JC

  20. Nothing beats the cape…NOTHING!!
    Why haven't we had another cape, bring back the cape.
    Actually, why not make Mario a superhero?
    Its about damn time we gave Mario some superpowers.

  21. So is Mario's weight you calculated adjusted for the increased gravity?
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but one's weight is determined by how much their mass is affected by gravity. The same mass in lower gravity will weigh less than the same mass in high gravity, despite retaining the same mass. Also, if you're going to argue the atmosphere is significantly thicker in Mario's world, then you also have to consider buoyancy that may be skewing the perceived weight. Let's also not forget that objects falling in atmosphere have drag coefficients where their mass to surface area ratio comes into play. It's why a mouse can survive falling down a mine shaft, but a horse or donkey will splatter on impact at the same height. The mouse's mass and surface area in relation to the air density causes it to reach terminal velocity slower, much like dropping a sheet of paper vs a box made from the same sheet of paper.

  22. Love this, but I want to cover the weight of the jet pack. 242lbs on looks like the weight of 110L of water on earth. Assuming as you did that the jet pack weight empty is negligible, the water should actually be 643 lbs and some change. Let’s round up to 644lbs. This is because you already calculated the gravity to be 2.66 G. This will also apply to the water on his back.

  23. Also
    Planes get lift because their wings split air flow creating high pressure below and low pressure on top wich pushes the plane up. Don’t ask how I learned that, just don’t I SEE YOU THERE DONT YOU DARE

  24. 8:02 "WATER IS THE KEY TO EVERYTHING!!!!" during the whitch starter is best debate… I cannot belive matpat did not use this video as a argument.

  25. Of course Mario & co. are not humans. Mario can breathe underwater… and on the Moon… where there is no atmosphere…

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