# The physics of dwarves in barrels

The gold in the new movie is pretty amazing. You can make coins and goblets out of it that are unaffected by dragon fire (despite Gandalf implying that you could melt the One Ring if you had a hot enough dragon). It seems lighter than ordinary gold, though, from the way it jingles and sprays about when hobbits are body-surfing it.

In before somebody points out the coin scene in Bardâ€™s barge!

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Not to say that itâ€™s actually realistic, but I think there is an important assumption we can make about the barrels based on clues from the movie. The barrels were arranged on a platform in the movie without lids when the dwarves reach them and are instructed to get inside. One of the elves (among the ones who got drunk) earlier asked why the barrels hadnâ€™t been sent down river already, implying that they were ready to go.

So apparently the way that the elves return empty barrels to Bard the Bargeman is by dumping them down the rather treacherous river, without lids.

In order to do this, the barrels would have to already be weighted at the bottom. If they were just sent on their way otherwise, they would smash apart when they hit rocks due to the weight of the water inside.

You could do this with one of the metal rings already used for barrel making, just make it thicker or of a denser material. We know that there isnâ€™t a plate of metal or something at the bottom, because one of the barrels has the bottom kicked out on-screen and it appeared to be wood. I wasnâ€™t thinking about this when I watched the film so I didnâ€™t look closely to see if there was extra metal in the bands on the bottom.

Even if there wasnâ€™t, though, we must also keep in mind that these are elven barrels (or at least, they might be, it isnâ€™t clear). We know very obviously that normal gravity doesnâ€™t apply to elves, so I donâ€™t see why that shouldnâ€™t be true of their barrels too.

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Ok, you winâ€¦

BTW: this is why some types of ships have to have ballast.

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[quote=â€śpenguinchris, post:3, topic:17080â€ť]
In order to do this, the barrels would have to already be weighted at the bottom. If they were just sent on their way otherwise, they would smash apart when they hit rocks due to the weight of the water inside. [/quote]

We get to see a barrel get almost completely deconstructed on-screen while bouncing cartoon-character-style off rocks, orcs, and other obstructions for a rather lengthy period. Those things appeared to be incredibly resilient and gravity-defying.

I just saw this yesterday afternoon, and the Chuck Jonesesque indestructibility of our hero dwarves (and their barrels) really started to get me down. Even more so than in the first movie, these dudes escape impossible odds every second of every action sequence, and because you all-too-quickly realize that apparently Nothing Bad Can Actually Happen To The Company Members, all the drama is instantly sucked out of every conflict and you just have to sit through it, waiting for the bouncing to stop.

Come on, PJ. Give somebody a concussion or two, complete with dizzy spells. Even Chuck Jones would put some circling tweeting birds over somebodyâ€™s head after they get tossed off a cliff. Our dwarves donâ€™t even say â€śouch.â€ť

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Seems to me this whole thing is a lot of math but completely disregards empirical data. If according to his estimates the displacement of the barrel indicates that the contents must weigh roughly 132 kg, why not just conclude that dwarves weigh more than you think?

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For one thing, theyâ€™d have to mostly weigh more than you think in their feet, due to the center of mass issues.

Though, I suppose they could all be wearing boots with solid steel solesâ€¦

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Magical, self-righting barrels [quote=â€śNonentity, post:8, topic:17080â€ť]
Though, I suppose they could all be wearing boots with solid steel solesâ€¦
[/quote]
Of course they do. Occupational safety and health regulations require this for miners.

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I seem to remember that being a member of that expedition was more hazardous than being in the fellowship of the ring (twice as bad! 21% vs 11%)

The barrels were made to Elfin safety standards.

well, those were silver coins

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It never really occurred to me before now, but dwarves in iron shoes are a staple of fantasy fiction. From nethack to skyrim to middle earth

Skyrim is what Iâ€™d go with here. Because while @Donald_Petersen is right about how little damage the dwarves take, thereâ€™s a notable exception: Kili used to be an adventurer like the others, until he took an arrow to the knee.

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Before I saw the movie, Iâ€™d assumed that Movie #3 would be almost entirely about the Battle of the Five Armies, but as it turned out, Movie #2 ends just as Smaug exits the mountain to pay a retributive visit to those â€śmiserable tub-thumping lake-menâ€ť in Esgaroth. So our expected casualties must wait until next year. Otherwise, okay, Kili takes a non-canonical arrow to the knee, but heâ€™s the only one that ever limps, grimaces, or winces. And I suspect heâ€™ll pull through.

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