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Disney had shaped a generation of kids when they released Frozen back in 2013, and though the movie has done a lot like inspire creativity or foster good family ties, one thing people didn’t expect the film to do was solve a 62-year-old mystery involving the death of 9 people.
According to National Geographic, engineers have used the avalanche simulations in Frozen to solve something called The Dyatlov Pass incident. In the winter of 1959, a group of 9 experienced hikers had planned a 200-mile expedition in Russia’s Ural Mountains; they set off for the hike, never to be heard of again. Their bodies were soon found in a gruesome state, and while some people were confirming that an avalanche was the cause of the deaths, too much clashing information like the lack of snowfall had led people to believe otherwise.
62 years later, the head of the Snow Avalanche Simulation Laboratory in Lausanne Johan Gaume was impressed with the way snow was simulated in Disney’s Frozen, and had decided to consult the animators so they could use to the same code to crack the Dyatlov Pass incident. Nat Geo writes:
Following a trip to Hollywood to meet with the specialist who worked on Frozen’s snow effects, Gaume modified the film’s snow animation code for his avalanche simulation models, albeit with a decidedly less entertaining purpose: to simulate the impacts that avalanches would have on the human body.
The simulation was apparently enough to conclude that the hikers did die of an avalanche, and there was enough information to refute all the other arguments. For more details on the incident, you can read them here.
With all the science that goes into making movies these days, it’s very interesting to see how an animated film for children could actually help solve a mystery that has puzzled authorities for decades. I wonder what they’re going to find out next.