Neil deGrasse Tyson: Thor's hammer weighs 300 billion elephants

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tackles the difficult calculations required to determine the weight of superhero Thor's otherworldly weapon.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
Thor's hammer
Neil deGrasse Tyson shared this Thor hammer photo on Twitter. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Beloved astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is no stranger to the world of comic book superheroes, having already found the location for Superman's home planet. He has now turned his keen scientific mind to the Marvel world and the issue of just how much Thor's mighty hammer weighs.

Thor's hammer Mjölnir is said to be made of neutron-star matter. Tyson did the calculations and determined the hammer must therefore weigh as much as 300 billion elephants. That's not a common form of weight measurement, so we have to do some further calculations to translate elephants into pounds.

Tyson didn't specify what kind of elephants or how much they each weigh, so I'm going to make some assumptions here. According to Wikipedia, African elephants weigh 8,800-15,000 pounds. Let's split the difference and say 11,900 pounds. Multiply that by 300 billion and we get 3.57 quadrillion pounds. That's a pretty hefty hammer. Chris Hemsworth must be in really great shape.

Tyson tweeted a photo of himself holding Thor's hammer along with the message, "Just an FYI: Thor was kind enough to lend me Mjölnir so that I could make the proper measurements."

Tyson's ability to heft the overweight weapon may lead us to question his origin story of having been born in Manhattan. I'm starting to think we should look to a superhuman extraterrestrial source for Mr. Tyson.

You can look to the stars to explain Tyson's affinity for Superman and Thor. "Always liked the fact that Superman & Thor are both Space Aliens, distinguishing themselves from most other superheroes," he tweeted.