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Because Science

Could a Portal Gun Accidentally End All Life on Earth?

Warning: Spoilers for Portal 2 below.

Portal 2 is one of my favorite games of all-time. It’s fun, creative, well-acted, and refreshingly science-based (I’m biased). It also has the distinction of having one of the most satisfying endings of any recent platformer. But exactly how that ending goes down presents a fascinating thought experiment: What if, in creating a portal, you messed up? Like, really messed up? Would it end all life on Earth?

In my latest Because Science, I’m extrapolating from the awesome end of Portal 2 to see what would really happen. Specifically, if you shot a portal both on Earth and on the surface of the Moon, would all the air on Earth eventually drain into space? If so, how long would that take?

The Earth and its atmosphere is an incredibly complicated system, so there are a bunch of factors we have to consider. The amount of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and other gases pressing down on us right now isn’t static. Volcanoes are currently belching out thousands of kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every second, and through the burning of fossil fuels, human are pumping out almost 1,000 times that.


Would a portal release enough air to kill us all before global warming got us? Check out my latest episode above to find out!

Check out my last video on how Mary Poppins actually explains Yondu’s arrow; subscribe to this playlist to stay current with the show; buy a Because Science shirt, mug, hat, or collectible pin (you know why); and follow me on Twitter to give me a suggestion for the next episode or on Instagram where I’m now posting extra mini-episodes!

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