Wakanda forever

Science explains how Wakanda really got all that vibranium

The African country Wakanda is known as the birthplace of the Black Panther, an Avenger with super-human strength, intellect, and access to the world’s largest source of the nearly indestructible metal: Vibranium.

Vibranium is a flexible and durable metal that can absorb enormous amounts of energy, which is why it lends itself well to Black Panther’s suit and Captain America’s shield.

There have been numerous explanations about whether or not vibranium could exist in real life, but what about the story of how it came to Earth?

In Wakandan lore, an asteroid impact 10,000 years ago delivered the alien metal to Earth.

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The Wakandans were able to harvest the vibranium and with it become the most technologically advanced society in the world.

But assuming a metal with these traits could exist...how did Wakanda get enough of it to sustain themselves for 10,000 years?

Jazmin Scarlett, a PhD student studying historical and social volcanology, is skeptical of the one-massive-meteorite-impact legend.

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To supply enough vibranium for an entire country to use for thousands of years, the asteroid would “have to be huge, probably even have to be bigger than the one that caused the extinction of [most] dinosaurs,” Scarlett told Inverse.

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That asteroid, which crashed into Earth 65 million years ago, was 6 miles wide and caused global devastation that took the planet years to recover from.

But let’s say an asteroid that big smashed into and not destroyed the planet and its inhabitants. The next question would be: how would the Wakandans get the metal?

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A big enough vibranium-rich asteroid would most likely vaporize on impact, melting the ground around it and incorporating that vibranium into rock, Scarlett said, which Wakandas could later mine and extract.

But again... that’d have to be one massive vibranium-rich asteroid.

Perhaps it wasn’t just one asteroid. Maybe multiple, smaller, asteroids over several millennia delivered large amounts of vibranium, and the legend was simplified as it was passed down from ancestral Wakandans.

Of course, that’d mean that multiple asteroids would have to impact the same place over and over again.

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And considering that anywhere on Earth’s surface has a less than one percent chance of being impacted, that’d be quite the coincidence.

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Even though the one-giant-asteroid origin story for vibranium isn't scientifically plausible, it's still fun to try to wrap your mind around the question, Scarlett said.

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