If "Game of Thrones" were real, could Westeros exist? Science explains the surprising truth

Science is coming: Dragons, capricious seasons, milk of the poppy and more of George R.R. Martin's world explained

Sarah Gray
May 21, 2014 12:45AM (UTC)

In the most recent episode of PBS Studio's "It's Okay to Be Smart," host, writer and Ph.D. Joe Hanson explores the magical world of "Game of Thrones." And he takes an interesting angle: Rather than chalk the fantastic world of George R.R. Martin up to creative license and magic, Hanson examines the show through the lens of science. If Westeros were real, could it exist within the laws of science?

Warning, there are spoilers, some having to do with the show, and some having to do with the ability for the show to exist in the real world. For example, seasons in the "Game of Thrones" world, as Hansen states, show up "when they damn well please," or every five to six years. Is it possible for a planet to have completely unpredictable seasons? Well, surprisingly, yes!


According to "It's Okay to Be Smart," and a group of researchers at Johns Hopkins who published a paper on this, the unforeseeable seasons could be explained by three celestial bodies moving around each other.

Watch the video below to learn more about the secrets of "Game of Thrones" explained by science. As Hansen quotes Raymond Chandler, "The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous."


h/t It's Okay to Be Smart

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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