In a recent interview George Lucas responds to the entire "nuke the fridge" issue in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

For those not familiar with the situation:

Indy is in a town with nobody around, and finds he's near an nuclear test site and an atom bomb is about to go off. When he realizes this, he opens a refrigerator and hides in it, closing the door after him. The bomb goes off and the fridge is thrown hundreds of feet from where it was standing as well as being thrown way up into the air. It comes down and "bounces" along the ground, leaving Indy far enough away to survive the blast (as well as the impact).

For this to happen, there are at least two serious problems (and this ignores the fact that at that time fridge doors latched and could not be opened from the inside):

1. The fridge would have to survive an atomic blast. It wasn't at the center, but it wasn't too far out. The town constructed for the test was blown to pieces.
2. Indy would have had to survive being hurled a great distance and falling from a great height while inside the fridge. When the fridge hits, he also hits the fridge sides, and his internal organs would hit his bones and harder tissue, also causing damage. The fridge would not protect against that.

Now Lucas is saying that about 50% of the scientists that comment on this say that this could have happened and Indy could have survived. How is this even possible? Are there any sources that actually explain how Indy could have survived this experience intact?

  • 4
    I'd recommend to move this to Skeptics.SE if you have some references to at least some of those "50% scientists". Jan 19, 2012 at 8:01
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    The only reference I have is Lucas saying that it was "50-50" on scientists saying he'd survive. Honestly, I think Lucas is blowing smoke, but if someone has something that can back this up, like a statement anywhere from someone with a background in physics or medicine who can say, "He could have survived because of..." I'd take that as long as there's enough to, as we say, convince a reasonable adult.
    – Tango
    Jan 19, 2012 at 8:05
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    Lucas blowing smoke to justify a poor decision he made about a movie he made? That's unpossible!
    – Beofett
    Jan 19, 2012 at 13:11
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    @Beofett - I think the work you were looking for was "inconcievable" Jan 19, 2012 at 15:29
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    @DVK While I love a good Princess Bride reference, I was thinking of this. Yours probably fits better, though.
    – Beofett
    Jan 19, 2012 at 16:15

2 Answers 2


In short: It's not possible for Indiana Jones to have survived.

From Mythbusters Mailbag: Surviving a Nuclear Blast like Indiana Jones:

... it turns out that our skepticism was well-founded. In real life, the lead around the refrigerator would have offered absolutely no protection for Indy.

"The lead would liquefy," says Professor E.L. Mathie, a scientist who researches intermediate energy nuclear physics at the University of Regina.

That's because the immediate damage caused by a nuclear explosion at close range is by heat and shockwaves, not radiation.

Had Indy been further away, the force from the explosion would have had time to dissipate, and the fridge would have protected him from harmful gamma rays.

But at such close range, Professor Jones would definitely not have survived.

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    +1 because a) he could never have survived and b) the risks were not radiation. He would have been melted into a glob. Jan 19, 2012 at 9:09
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    But it was a refrigerator, if it is still plugged, Indy may had put the temperature control to minimum to cool it down! ;)
    – DavRob60
    Jan 19, 2012 at 12:40
  • Cool! So did they say anything about the issue with the hard impact when the fridge hit the ground?
    – Tango
    Jan 19, 2012 at 17:39
  • I saw [this article])overthinkingit.com/2012/02/22/…) in a link on Slashdot that basically supports this, but it goes into the different factors that should have killed Indy. I thought I'd add the link here just for general interest.
    – Tango
    Feb 24, 2012 at 20:26
  • See also: this Overthinkingit.com article.
    – Beofett
    Feb 27, 2012 at 14:53

The abrupt shock from G1 to G100+ caused by the shockwave would have killed him, back in 1960s a centurion tank was parked with its engine running 300 meters away from ground zero, where a 20 kt bomb was detonated.

That tank was later examined and they found out the exterior was sand blasted and optics totally scratched, the 52 tonnes tank was also pushed ~10+ meters away from its original parking location and the engine was out, other than that the tank was OK, but yet its engine even ran and was driven back to base. However, they also concluded that any crew could not have survived due to the sheer shock from the blast effect; they would have suffered internal hemorrhage and broken spines.

  • 2
    Interesting, can you link to an article or study where this was pointed out? Also, please expand on the relevance to the question, in relation to in-universe mechanics.
    – Möoz
    Sep 25, 2017 at 0:04

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