Monsters Part 5: Godzilla


In our quest to make real-life monsters, we so far have made a vampire, a zombie, and Frankenstein’s monster. The natural next choice to be listed along with these is, of course, Gojira! (That’s Godzilla for all of us Americans.) Okay, so maybe a certain Sesame Street song should now be playing about one of these things not being like the others. But when talking about “monsters”, there are more than just the ones who are target practice for the Van Helsings. So we take a look at the possibility of a ginormous nuclear fire-breathing reptile that makes Japanese insurance companies nauseous and paranoid. So here is the most well known daikaiju, or “kaiju” for short (Japanese movie monster), Godzilla!

If you encounter any of these, you’re hosed. [Image courtesy Wikipedia]
Meet The Lizard

So who is Godzilla? In case you’re one of the four people in the world unfamiliar with the giant creature, here’s a quick primer. Following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the fallout (literally) from one of the underwater nuclear tests, the inspiration for a nuclear creature from the sea with an affinity for trashing Tokyo came about. “Gojira” (the Japanese version of the lizard’s name) is derived from the Japanese words for gorilla and whale since, apparently, Godzilla was originally supposed to be half-gorilla and half-whale or something along those freaky lines. Godzilla has a distinctive mechanical-sounding roar (at least in the Toho Co., Ltd. movies) and can breathe nuclear fire. The creature looks somewhat like a bipedal dinosaur with scales down its back like a stegosaurus. Not to mention, Godzilla has a fetish for smashing buildings in ways the Hulk could only dream of.

Strangely enough though, Godzilla looks different in each film. And not to mention, the nuclear fire tends to change color. Perhaps there’s a different Godzilla in each film. A regenerating mega lizard? I’ll bet there’s a giant TARDIS under the water as well.

Big Ol’ Lizard

One of the most distinguishing characteristic traits of Godzilla is the fact that it is … well … a giant lizard. Not just any lizard mind you, but a humongous bipedal dinosaur with stegosaurus plates running down its back and sharp teeth. Throw in an angry look and a bad attitude and that’s the big reptile. So can a giant lizard like Godzilla really exist?

The first thing is its size. Godzilla is big. Really big! No, I mean super-unrealistically mega big! This might pose a bit of a problem. Godzilla tends to be thought of as more of a dinosaur. However, the longest theropods (bipedal dinosaurs) only got up to 18 meters. The longest dinosaur got up to 60 meters. Godzilla was anywhere from 50-100 meters tall. So this creates issues for big creatures such as Godzilla and Cloverfield.

So can’t we just tweak dinosaur DNA? Unfortunately, the half-life of DNA is only about 521 years and is completely destroyed by 6.8 million years. The dinosaurs we’re interested in died off around 65 million years ago. The DNA is completely unusable! Science, I shake my fist at thee! That means no reproducing dinosaurs! No Jurassic Park! Oh, the humanity … not being chased by dinosaurs!!!

All hope may not be lost though. DNA is very complex. The human genome was mapped out, filling over 20 full scholarly volumes. There are only four primary connections in DNA, commonly referred to by the letters A, C, G, and T. It seems to function as a sort of language. Decipher the language and one might just be able to generate the code necessary to make a mega-lizard. It’s a long shot. But with what little we know about DNA, at this point anything is possible.

If this depletes to where it’s unusable, you’re hosed.

Lizard Breath

Then there’s the ability to shoot nuclear fire out the mouth. Simple fire is difficult enough to explain. It’s not unreasonable for an animal to biologically produce methane and store it. There are even some bacteria which scientists at one time hoped to tweak in such a way that they would produce gasoline and other hydrocarbons. There are other types of chemical excretion which can be produced biologically and can be flammable. Then the only thing remains is igniting the fuel. This could be a chemical reaction of some sort. It could also be from a stored electrical charge, much like and electric eel. Presto, you have fire breath!

But unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Godzilla doesn’t just breathe fire. It breathes nuclear fire! Okay, so maybe some kind of nuclear radiation ignites a methane stream? Not exactly. That doesn’t explain the fire “beam” that Godzilla has a tendency to shoot out. So is there anything that explains Godzilla’s radioactive projectile halitosis? I think there is, but it’s a little weird. Just bear with me.

Godzilla’s fire breath is a nuclear explosion! Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking. You’re thinking I must be suffering from some sort of radiation sickness myself and suffering from some kind of delirium because of it. But bear with me here as I try to explain.

Godzilla is a giant nuclear lizard. It has deposits of nuclear material (uranium) within its very physiology. It has even been speculated that in its heart is what is the equivalent of a nuclear reactor.  Godzilla has even been known to put off a large amount of radiation. The atomic beam that comes from its mouth is the result of a nuclear fission reaction, like an atomic bomb. Although the hydrogen bomb produces nuclear fusion triggered by fission, I believe Godzilla strictly uses fission.

In simple terms, nuclear fission is splitting an atom. A neutron is shot into the nucleus of an atom of stable Uranium-235 which briefly makes it the unstable isotope Uranium-236. The nucleus splits apart resulting in two smaller elements, radiation, and three more neutrons which shoot out and hit the nuclei of other Uranium-235 atoms. This produces what is called a chain reaction. When it is uncontrolled, the result is either an nuclear meltdown or a nuclear explosion.

If this happens when you’re close by, you’re hosed.

There are various ways to trigger a nuclear reaction. The ones that spring to my mind first are the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nagasaki was hit by Fat Man. Fat Man used a form of compression where a plutonium core is hit simultaneously on all sides by a high explosive. Methane is not a sufficient replacement for a high explosive like TNT. So a methane burst in the throat, or throat fart, wouldn’t be able to start a sufficient reaction.

Hiroshima was hit by Little Boy. Little Boy used the gun method wherein a mass of uranium was shot into another mass of uranium. This is much more likely. Granted, the masses would be extremely minute compared to the atom bomb. But then again, the blast is also minute compared to the atom bomb.

The detonation is then parabolically reflected outward into a beam. When an energy source emanates from the focus of a parabola, it becomes a hyperdirectional beam. Used conversely, you get a satellite dish. It picks up the signal from the satellite and directs it to the LNB (antenna sensor). Some science museums have a demonstration using sound. two parabolic reflectors are at either end of a space. When two people talk directly into the reflectors, they hear each other as if they were right beside each other.

So by using the gun method like in Little Boy forcing one uranium mass into another, nuclear fission is created. The blast energy is the parabolically reflected outward into a beam. The result is breath that no breath mint can tame.

And so, just add a roar that sounds like metal screeching against metal, and we have Godzilla. Sure it’s a bit speculative. But without giant Tokyo-destroying lizards with atomic breath to reference, speculation is all we have, but it would seem to be valid. So avoid Tokyo and try not to get crushed.

<— Part 1: What Is A Monster?

<— Part 2: The Vampire

<— Part 3: The Zombie

<— Part 4: Frankenstein’s Monster


Daniel C. Handley

Dan Handley was raised a Trekkie, fell in love with "Star Wars" at an early age, and became obsessed with comic book superheroes. He spent his youth dreaming of how to get real superpowers, starships, and so on.

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