How much does Godzilla weigh?
A good question. And since the life-size version doesn’t seem to be in New York at the moment, we’ll have to use a smaller replica and then multiply by a scaling factor. Our Godzilla, shown below eating Buffalo-Chicken Dip, lives in our house and occasionally visits Our Best Friend Craig over at Puntabulous (whose Guest Debates and Story of a Snake Wrangler are simply brilliant).
The first thing we need to do is estimate Godzilla’s volume. Since I was absent the day my geometry teacher covered volumes of giant monsters, we’ll use water displacement. The original plan for this experiment had us using a calibrated beaker, submerging Godzilla, and measuring how much the water level rose, but it turns out that we don’t have any giganto-sized beakers. Instead, we took a 5-gallon cooking pot filled to the absolute top with water, placed it in an emptied toy-container (to catch the water), and then dunked Godzilla in and measured the water that spilled out.
Here’s TwoPi dunking Godzilla.
Unfortunately, Godzilla didn’t fit completely. So TwoPi carefully added more water to bring the water level back up to the top:
And then dunked the part of Godzilla that hadn’t fit originally.
The next step was to figure out how much water had overflowed. TwoPi poured it into a measuring up while Godzilla ate an oatmeal cookie to recover from his bath.
It turns out that the volume of water was 2.9 liters:
Now we need to calculate the scaling factor. Here’s where things get interesting. Our Godzilla is 37.5 cm tall (head to foot). According to Robert Biodi, the original Godzilla was 50 meters tall.
In the 1984 movie Godzilla, the monster had grown to 80 meters (possibly because the buildings in Tokyo were larger), and for films in the 1990s, including the 1992 Godzilla vs. Mothra, he was 100 meters.
But now, in the 2000s, he’s back to 80 meters. So which height shall we use? Let’s stick with the original of 50 meters. Since our Godzilla is 0.375 meters high, the linear scale is 50/0.375≈133.3. But we are working with volume, so we have to cube this scaling factor to get (50/0.375)3≈2,370,370.37.
We take this number and multiply by the 2.9 liters of water that our Godzilla displaced. The original Godzilla would displace 6,874,074 liters of water!
But how do we translate a volume (liters) to a weight (kilograms, except that’s really a mass, but you know what I mean)? We need to multiply by Godzilla’s density. There aren’t any scientists that mention that in any of the films, so we’ll use the density of a crocodile body: 0.9 kg/liter. So we multiply 6,874,074 by 0.9 and find that Godzilla weighs about 6,186,667 kilograms, or 13,610,667 pounds.
Maybe 13,610,668 after all his snacks.
Thanks to Bill Korth for sharing this method of calculating the weight of dinosaurs during a teacher workshop. He himself got it from Dinosaurs: The Textbook (3rd ed.) by Spencer G. Lucas, which explains that this is in fact the way that scientists estimate dinosaur weights, using very accurate scale models.