Have you ever wondered how things would actually work in the world that author George R.R. Martin crafted for his A Song of Ice and Fire book series, which was made into HBO's Game of Thrones? The new book Fire, Ice, and Physics: The Science of Game of Thrones by Rebecca C. Thompson ($18 on Amazon) shows how magic and science mix to create the mythological world beloved by fans.

In the Thrones series, winter is said to last for years and have snowfalls that reach up to 100 feet deep. Here, Thompson, a PhD in physics, offers two explanations for what it would actually take for such a dramatic winter to occur. The first theory is that the planet has a “very complicated Milankovitch cycle"cyclical changes in its position relative to the sun. Or, that the planet has an axial tilt that's “chaotic" after potentially losing a moon in its distant past, causing erratic and overlong seasons.

That's just the beginning of what Thompson goes into in the book. Readers will also find out about the physics of The Wall, the biology of white walkers, the complicated genetics of the Targaryen and Lannister families, and much more. As Sean Carroll says in the foreword for the book, “Game of Thrones is fantasy but it’s not surrealism; everything that happens is either based on or inspired by features of our actual world.”

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