How strong is King Kong? And could he even get up?

It’s time to Godzilla vs. Kong– a classic battle between two incredibly giant creatures. I only saw the trailer and it looks like a fun movie. But movies aren’t just for fun, they’re also for physics. In particular, it’s a great opportunity to examine the physics of the scale – what happens when we turn small things into big things? For example, what if you take a normal gorilla and turn it into a giant gorilla and then name it King Kong?

How tall is Kong?

If we want to see what happens when you have a giant gorilla, the first thing to do is find out how big is it. Oh sure, I could just look for that value somewhere – but it’s no fun. Instead, I’ll see if I can estimate its size based on what I can see in the trailer. I love the challenge of just using a trailer. It’s a bit like real science. Sometimes you have to struggle to get great data, and other times boom, it’s right there. In this case, I am lucky. There is a picture of Kong and Godzilla standing on an aircraft carrier. Assuming this is a Nimitz class transporter, I can use the size of this one (about 330 meters) to measure Kong.

Illustration: WIRED staff; Photos of Warner Bros.

This gives an approximate height of 102 meters – since this is only an estimate, I will use 100 meters. Oh, looks like Godzilla’s tail is about 110 yards long. Wow.

How much would he weigh?

OK, I need another guess. Let’s say Kong is made of the same material as a full-sized gorilla. I’m also assuming that Kong has the same basic shape as a normal gorilla – you know, both animals have legs that are the same ratio to their total height, and their arm width in relation to total height is the same. even. I mean, it looks like this, right? He looks like a big gorilla.

If Kong is a large gorilla, then he would have the same density as a gorilla – where we define density as the total mass divided by the volume. But what is the volume of a gorilla? In fact, we don’t need to know. Instead, let’s just use a simple shape like a cylinder. Suppose I have two cylinders of different size, but with the same proportions (radius / length ratio).

Illustration: Rhett Allain

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