'Pokémon: Let's Go's Fake Poké Ball Science Is Absolutely Terrifying
Since its inception, Pokémon has always focused on the core idea of “Pocket Monsters,” but it’s never really been clear how the humans of this universe developed the Poké Ball technology that makes it possible to capture these beasts and store them in those pocket-sized capsules.
Poké Balls have been a key part of the Pokémon experience, from the original GameBoy games to the recently-released Pokémon: Let’s Go, which even works with a specially-designed Poké Ball Plus accessory that lets you simulate the experience. And yet we still have no idea how Snorlax (a giant fat cat-like creature that’s 6’11” and weighs around 1014 pounds) fits inside a metal object roughly the size of a baseball.
The canonical — and nonsensical — pseudoscientific explanation is that Poké Balls shoot out a beam that converts the Pokémon into a form of energy. Sounds fun, right? Except it’s not. The only known way to legitimately convert matter into energy is through nuclear fusion. Even in that process, less than 1 percent of the matter is converted into energy, and the reaction is so volatile that it causes massive explosions.
As theorized by Albert Einstein, transforming matter into energy in the way Poké Balls claim to do would result in a nuclear explosion, which doesn’t sound great for anyone involved — least of all poor Pikachu.
Nintendo may claim that it’s “comfortable inside of a Poké Ball” like a “high-end suite room in a fancy hotel,” but that’s clearly not the case.
The best case scenario is that Pokémon are different on a molecular level, making it possible for them to seamlessly transform between matter and energy (which might also explain why humans can’t be captured by Poké Balls). The worst case scenario is that entering a Poké Ball is a horrifically painful experience.
So are Poké Balls actually scientifically possible? Thankfully, the answer is a resounding no.
This December, Inverse is counting down the 20 best science moments in science fiction this year. This has been #19.