The Scientifically-Accurate Version Of The Ending Of The Avengers

We enjoyed The Avengers, sure. But just how much more would we have enjoyed it with this scientifically-accurate ending?

Commenter and physicist FlowerGirlPhysicist offered us a scientific assessment of the movie's conclusion — as well as a proposal for how the whole thing might really go down. (Spoilers ahead.):

Drillpress

OK serious question, or as serious as I can get. These questions were inspired by The Avengers, when Tony directs the nuke into space...

A - What would the explosion of a bomb do in space? Since there is no O2, would there be a fire ball or sparks?

B - Alright, I'm asking it, is there gravity in "empty" space, not near a planet? Not sure if this one makes sense, but since Tony didn't have the fuel to rocket the suit back to Earth, the movie had him just falling back into the open vortex after he releases the missle. Now, I'm going on the assumption that the vortex had some kind of sucking power associated with it to achieve this, but if it didn't...

FlowerGirlPhysicist

1) Not a whole lot. Without any gases to expand into, there's no shock wave (that comes from the superheated gases moving faster than the local speed of sound). No burning either, unless the bomb is made from something that's self-oxidizing (has enough loosely bound oxygen in the chemical compound that can break off and be used during the burning process). No not so cool.

2) No gravity in truly empty space. The curvature of space (the measure of gravity) falls off the further away you get from a massive object, and eventually space reverts to being flat (the no-gravity solution). I have math to prove this but I promise you don't want to see it. The simple answer is that without any nearby matter to distort spacetime, there's no gravity.

So, instead of a giant explosion and a narrow escape back to Earth, we would see a quickly snuffed out flare and (sorry Robert Downey, Jr.) probably a whole lot less of Iron Man from that point on.

Okay, so maybe from a narrative standpoint, it's a slightly less than satisfying conclusion. But it certainly would have been unforgettable.