Pacific Rim: Kaiju Attacks and the Walls to stop them (?)

Originally at the end of Nerdometrics Episode 2 I wanted to share a few thoughts with Kyle Yount (Kaijucast) on Pacific Rim.  Partly due to schedule and partly due to the subject we decided we needed a separate discussion, AND we needed someone else to join the discussion and got just that! I had two main thoughts I wanted to crunch some numbers on and not only spoke to Kyle, but Andy Camble of Kaiju 101 joined in on the conversation!

SPOILER ALERTS GALORE. If you haven’t seen the movie yet you should! So go do it now!

You can listen to the episode here!

KAIJU ATTACK FREQUENCY

The first thought was on the frequency of Kaiju attacks in Pacific Rim continuity: in both the movie and the (movie) novelization, one of the scientists discusses the frequency of Kaiju attacks and uses this data to predict (a) that the frequency doubles over time (that is, each successive attack is assumed to happen in half the time it took between the previous attacks) and (b) that there will be a ‘double event’ where two Kaiju come through the breach, then three, and so on.  Based on this you’d expect the frequency of attacks, when mapped out over time to look something like this in terms of shape:

Nerdometrics 03 - Time between attacks (expected)

Instead, when I charted all of the Kaiju attack information (chronicled in detail in the Pacific Rim novelization) I got this.  Important note: the chart of the left is what I discussed with Kyle and Andy on the podcast, however in discussing it I realized I had errors (missing the 2023 attacks).  The second chart is not only a corrected chart, but a chart I made that assumed the attacks happened as close to the formula above as possible.

Nerdometrics 03 - Time between attacks A Nerdometrics 03 - Time between attacks B

I’m sure you can’t help but notice these charts look nothing like what the expected value.

BUILDING THE KAIJU WALL VERSUS BUILDING JAEGERS

In the movie, the governments of the world decide at a certain point to pull funding from the Jaeger project so they can focus their monies and efforts on building an ‘Anti-Kaiju Wall’, a huge structure presumably 30 stories high, with all kinds of reinforcements, that builds a perimeter around the entire Pacific Ring of Fire itself. When I first heard that my first thought was: why? At the point this decision got made, yes the PPDC had lost plenty of Jaegers but (1) you would have to think they had taken out more Kaiju than the numbers of jaegers they had (proven true by the book) and (2) since there weren’t any Kaiju stomping around the globe at the time it’s safe to say the Jaegers were 100% effective in their goal.  Compare that to a future where Kaiju stomp unhappily around the world, kept out by a wall as their numbers increase and their strategy didn’t seem to make sense.

But to a larger point, are Jaegers really that expensive in the grand scheme of things?  Worldwide GDP in 2012 was $70 Trillion, or $70,000 billion (which builds 1,167 Jaegers at a cost of $60 billion each, if we were to divert all of the world’s funds to such a project).  Of course we wouldn’t do that, but what are we spending on defense right now?

Nerdometrics 03 - Defense spending 2012

The top 9 Defense spenders in the world alone spent $1,239 Billion last year on defense, meaning – the Top Nine countries could reroute existing funds and build 20 Jaegers starting tomorrow.   In other words, even if everyone decided we needed something additional to assist the Jaegers – like an anti-Kaiju wall – such an undertaking could be pursued without touching current defense budgets.

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Godzilla x Economics: How feasible is rebuilding Japan after Godzilla attacks?

I’m not going to say it’s an omnipresent meme or anything, but a meme I’ve seen with some regularity over the years is  “Wow, Japan is so resilient to rebuild itself time after time in the wake of Giant Monster Attacks, nyuk nyuk nyuk” – I’ve even tried to get a few nyuks myself along those lines. But how unrealistic is it? I needed to know the answer, once and for all.

And not only that, once I got some answers I needed to run the information by an expert in all things Kaiju, so I called Kyle Yount of the Kaijucast to talk things out – when it comes to Godzilla this dude knows his stuff, and when it comes to Godzilla podcasters there is no higher authority.

You can listen to the audio here!

METHODOLOGY AND ASSUMPTIONS

First I went through all the Godzilla films, notepad at my side, and made notes of what got destroyed.  I focused on infrastructure things – buildings, bridges / tunnels / power plants and highway overpasses. (For whatever reason it feels like overpasses are disproportionately targeted by giant monsters – something I feel received a short homage in Pacific Rim, where Gipsy Danger – one of the protagonists of the film – purposely steps over an overpass to save it from being crushed). Things like boats, cars, planes etc weren’t factored in – my assumption being there are a lot of these things to go around and then could be replaced relatively easily.

Another key assumption: I only looked at Godzilla films and a few additional films from Toho (Rodan, Mothra and Varan). It’s a slippery slope if you include Gamera films, because while I wanted to include the Gamera Trilogy from 1996, if I did that it would mean I’d have to inlude early Gamera films… and if I did that I’d have to include ‘The X From Outer Space’… and the next thing you know I’m scrutining ‘Death Gappa’.  Better to just avoid. I also made one key assumption that all of these movies happened on the same timeline (which we discuss during the podcast).

THE NUMBERS STUFF

Once I had a list of the infrastructure measurements I had to assign both a cost value and a time value to each. My research yielded the following:

Power Plant / bridge: $650 mil, 3 year lead time
Building: $3 million per floor constructed and five months to build regardless of size
Overpass: $8.48 million, six months

Doing some simple math I was able to get a total cost estimate for each film and a time estimate from each film. However, in calculating the time I made an important assumption: first, note the power plant / bridge lead time is much longer than the other lead times – therefore it’s the ‘critical path’ lead time (meaning ‘it’s the lead time that can change how long it takes to complete the project on its own’). A lead time of three years is reasonable under *normal* circumstances, but as we discuss on the podcast a lot of that lead time has to do with meetings, permits and other things that would be waived to rebuild following the wrath of Daikaiju (so we cut the lead time in half). I also assumed that all things would be rebuilt in parallel, the rebuild effort would be swift.

Back to cost: having a cost estimate isn’t enough – the rate of inflation has to be measured since a dollar (or yen) had far more purchasing power in 1954 (first Godzilla film) than it does now. The cost estimates were adjusted to account for inflation of currency through the years.

Okay, so we have total cost estimate to rebuild and a reasonable time estimate to rebuild – you’d think we’re done right? Well, almost – we need to look at one more thing: simply looking at money doesn’t mean anything in and of itself, so what I did was look at the cost in rebuilding as a percent of Japan’s GDP that year (GDP being ‘the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a given time period’). GDP is viewed as the standard measure of economic strength for a nation, because that’s what – at the end of the day – you’ve actually provided to everyone. It’s all well and good if Monster (x) – or ‘Monster X’ for that matter – does a certain amount of damage, but even more important is a country’s ability to absorb that damage.  Wealthier nations afford themselves more of a buffer in dealing with things of this nature, just like wealthy people can afford to lose 20 bucks much more so than I can. This is why ‘Destruction as a percentage of GDP’ is a better indicator of the effect the monster really had.

FINDINGS

1) In almost every case the time to rebuild and the money involved to rebuild could have happened.
2) Any time there was more than a one-year gap between films, the rebuild would have happened easily.
3) The target cities of Giant Monster rampages varied enough where one city didn’t get hit too hard (with one exception, more on that in second).
4) The Giant Monster Attacks after the Japanese economic expansion could have been easily sustained due to Japan’s financial strength.

However, there are two things in the data that raised my eyebrow.

1. In the Millennium series of Godzilla films (named because they began in the year 2000) Giant Monsters repeatedly attack Tokyo. Year after year, Tokyo got hit – the time to rebuild would have been seriously challenged in getting that taken care of. That being said… you could make the case the timelines would get accelerated even MORE than I’ve assumed, making the rebuild even more reasonable (since all we’re really talking about here is a gap of about six months).

2. The first movie Gojira (1954) was easily the one to hit Japan the hardest – not only was Tokyo laid to waste by Godzilla but it was 2.4 percent of GDP (more than double the impact of the second-most impactful film from a Giant Monster perspective – Destroy All Monsters).

Godzilla-destruction graph

Now, I know it doesn’t sound like much when I say 2 percent of GDP, so let me try to put that in perspective.

– 2 percent of US GDP today is $299 billion dollars.
– That money alone could buy 14 Big Macs each for every man, woman and child on this planet.
– With $2 billion left over.

But yet again, as much as that is? It could still be dealt with economically despite Japan’s status as a nation before the economic boom.

FINAL CONCLUSION: Rebuilding Japan in the wake of Giant Monster Attacks is at no times infeasible – in fact it’s pretty darn realistic.

Thanks to Kyle from Kaijucast again for making himself available to talk on this!  You can check out Kyle’s podcast here if not familiar with it already – if it happens in the world of Daikaiju, Kyle is there to cover it and talk about it. Go check it out now!

Oh, and one more note – as part of our discussion I talked with Kyle and compared his thoughts on the ‘most destructive’ Daikaiju films with my calculations on said films, kind of as a double-check to see how my calculations lined up.  What the numbers showed (and Kyle agreed with) is after the top three movies there was a drop-off and a bunch of films that vied for the Number 4 spot.  Once among those films, my numbers favored Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack aka ‘G.M.K.’ while Kyle’s thoughts favored Godzilla vs Space Godzilla, but all in all things lined up really clean.

Factoid: It’s bad for your health to be a Star Trek Redshirt, but not as bad as…

expendable-shirtWhen I brainstorm topics for Nerdometrics research, it makes me happy when I find people of like mind that have run the numbers already!  And that’s what we have here. At significance magazine, Matthew Barsalou ran the numbers to test what the most dangerous shirt to actually wear on Star Trek is.  Turns out that if you were joining Starfleet Academy today and could choose your shirt color/profession, there’s a color that’s worse than red – Click the link to find out what’s even more dangerous!

Nerdometrics Factoid: NWA ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and three minutes of pure swearing

A friend of mine shared the following link that prompted this stat – (NOTE: NOT WORK APPROPRIATE! NOT KID-APPROPRIATE! CONTAINS NOTHING BUT PROFANITY!)

NWA

For those of you not clicking the link because you’re at work, with kids or don’t have headphones it’s nothing BUT the swearing from NWA’s hip-hop classic ‘Straight Outta Compton’.  In my opinion this record is the ‘Let it Be’ of swearing – a masterwork where very little of the profanity feels out of place (additional note: I like profanity). The first thing I thought when I saw the link was WOW! The swear words on this record spliced together constitute a whopping three minutes of content (or 4.6 percent of the entire album)!

Impressive as it is, when you consider that a normal hip-hop record probably has an average of 30 seconds of swearing it’s even more so (if I assume 30 seconds of swearing equals one standard deviation, then this record is six standard deviations of cussin’.  I’m not proving these numbers in this case but I’ve listened to a lot of hip-hop and feel pretty good about this record in terms of its uniqueness, and if you agree with that assumption this record is basically a Motorola-defect-esque-Six-Sigma standard for profanity).

BUT, even though I view it as a swearing masterwork it’s not even close to the most swearing out there.  Without crunching numbers I’d wager the 2 Live Crew is up in that rare air, and thanks to this article from Kate Hutchinson via Red Bull we have some data on what the article claims is the sweariest album – ‘Crunk Juice’ by Lil Jon. In total, the record has 784 swears, and if you assume a similar editing method as the NWA video (about 2.5 swears per second) you get an estimated 313 seconds of pure cussin’.

Dividing that by the total time on the album arrives at… get ready…. 8.1 percent of album time devoted to the curses alone!

N.W.A., you got the game changed on you.

Nerdometrics Episode 1: What Epic Heavy Metal song is… Most Epic?

 Nerdometrics logo

You can listen to Episode 1 here. You can also download it via iTunes!

EPISODE 01: EPIC METAL

For the first episode we turn our attention to the great expansive landscape of Epic Heavy Metal. There are many challengers to the throne, but what is Epic Heavy Metal song of all time? To give me a horn-throwin’ assist I turned to my cousin Jon Palombi, owner of an 1,000-piece Heavy Metal music collection (that peaked much higher than that) and an attendee of hundreds of metal shows.

Jon and I preselected the songs first; we combined memory / knowledge, then whittled the list down to what we thought was the one entry from each band with the highest potential score. Just to make sure there weren’t any glaring ommissions, I researched the music even more and added a few songs to the list.  By then, we had ourselves a list. Also – Iron Maiden, who may have been the most instrumental band in popularizing epic metal, was granted two entries. It only felt right. So with that, here are the finalists up for judging on ‘Epicicity’:

Soldiers of the Wasteland – Dragonforce

The Odyssey – Symphony X

Pull Me Under – Dream Theater

Clenching the Fists of Dissent – Machine Head

Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Iron Maiden

Hallowed be Thy Name – Iron Maiden

Call of Ktulu – Metallica

Prelude to Madness / Hall of the Mountain King – Savatage

Halloween – Helloween

Overkill II – Overkill

THE CRITERIA

Before re-listening to any of the songs I created criteria that awarded points across seven categories; totaling them up gave each song a point value. Categories:

1. Track Length (Max: 100 points) Look at minutes and seconds of a song as if it were a three (or four!) digit number then multiply by 0.1; meaning a song that is 9:53 gets (953*0.1 =) 95 points.  Length point values were capped at 100, that number was chosen (A) to keep brutally long songs from winning on length alone, (B) because once a song goes over 10 minutes you must buy the whole album to get in on iTunes. That has to mean something.

2. Literary Connection: Is there one? (Yes gets 15 points)

3. Lyrical References (Max: 60 points) Five points each for any lyrical reference to: dragons, great beasts, wars, royalty, demons/devils, great distances, wizards or magic.

4. Are any lyrics whispered? (Yes gets 10 points)

5. Tempo Changes (Max: 50) Any time the song changes tempo you are awarded 5 points.

6. Is there a narrator that addresses you directly? (Yes gets 5 points) “Direct address” means the narrator has to say “Let me tell you a tale” or “listen to me children”. Simply saying “listen” is not enough.

7. Large-scale Album cover? (Yes gets 10 points) We define ‘large-scale’ as ‘thousands of feet’ in this case; that’s enough.

THE VERDICT

Once we got through all the criteria we were able to declare a winner! Listen to the podcast to see who is the Epic Metal champ. Jon did not know the results until we recorded, that way he could react to the rankings. Rankings shown below:

 

Epic-Metal

You can listen to Episode 1 here. You can also download it via iTunes!