The scientific realities of nuking the fridge

First it was jumping the shark, now it’s nuking the fridge. It’s the phrase that means a series has reached the point of no return and is now irreversibly lame.

It’s unfortunately what happened to Indiana Jones, and it’s a reference to a scene in the last film where he survived a nuclear explosion by hiding in a refrigerator. 


Considering this has become a long running joke for years now, it has begged the question could you actually survive a bomb going off by hiding in a fridge? I was surprised anybody even seriously considered this, but Reel Physics did, and they feel it actually could be possible. 

This information comes to us courtesy of Cinema Blend, which cited The Escapist: Reel Physics. The show makes the case that Indy could indeed have survived the blast if the fridge was lined with lead. The lead would protect Jones from radiation, but that’s not what saved his life. It apparently has to do with the weight of the fridge that saved him, which Blend tells us could “contribute to the forces that would help Jones survive the blast and the toss.” 

There’s also of course has been some arm chair quarterbacking about this, and on the Day One Patch Boards, one reader wrote, “They are assuming the fridge had ¼ inch lead lining which would put it at 1,400 pounds. Assuming this was a regular fridge and not some fictional super fridge, the G forces would have been over 20Gs, making this a quite lethal ride.”

One reader on Facebook also commented, “NO WAY that Indiana Jones escapes from that alive. He is in a tiny metal container that hits the ground with extreme force and proceeds to jump and tumble for what might be just sly of fifty, maybe sixty meters. The very first impact that fridge makes with the ground is bound to have him break sixteen different places.” 

Funny enough, a year ago George Lucas also insisted to people that surviving a nuclear blast inside a metal refrigerator was indeed possible. As Indie Wire reported, Spielberg didn’t believe the scene himself, but Lucas again brought up that the fridge was lead lined, and as long as Indy didn’t break his neck and could get the door open upon landing, he could have made it. As Lucas said, “The odds of surviving that refrigerator – from a lot of scientists – are about 50-50.” 

Considering this is supposed to be all in fun, it has definitely sparked some very funny commentary, but logic and common sense tells us if we are ever under a nuclear attack, the fridge should probably be the last place we flee to.