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The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin 
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Post The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
First of all, let me apologize for the off topic thread, please erase it if it's an inconvenience, I just thought bringing this topic here would mean a more interesting debate than some manga forums, seeing as there are so many knowledgeable scifi fans here.
Second, this post will contain spoilers for the manga and anime, so if you are not up to date with chapter 79 beware of being spoiled.

At first sight this manga is set in a 1700-1800 era society with some steampunk additions. From the start we are led to believe that while the society is indeed post-apocaliptic, they haven't lost much technology from the past, and in fact have advanced in some areas.
The apocalypse is brought by the most unlikely threat, though, a race of human-looking giants, apparently dumb, but that possess incredible strength, regeneration and who don't even need to eat, but would go to extremes to eat humans, while ignoring any other plant or animal.

This manga is exceptional in that while it has definitely an element of action and adventure to it, and most mangas would stop at that and call it a day, instead it's main focus is on mistery: both the readers and main characters don't really know anything at all about the world, and little by little we are both given clues, some faint, some clear, some only make sense much later, but they are there from the start.

[SPOILER STARTS HERE]
Now we have discovered:
-Genetically engineered supersoldiers (Ackerman clan).
-Serums far more advanced than whatever the people within the walls can analyze, let alone create (titan creating serum).
-Titan-shifters that: 1) wear modern clothes 2) drink coffee 3) know baseball 4) can infect or mass produce the titan creating serum that the humans from the walls can't even study.

All this, together with how we know the Reiss used the coordinate to wipe out the previous history of the world for those living within the walls, points towards a society far more advanced than our current real-world existed, one that is at least somewhat mantained by the shifter village.

Now that we know the giants are not some mythological creatures, and the Ackermans not some random badasses, but rather biological weapons and tools engineered by an advanced society, how do you think those could possibly work based on modern science, and why were they created? Or is it all amateur scifi gibberish?


Ackermans: superior strength, speed, reflexes, stamina, focus and possibly intelligence. Think Captain America levels of fitness; in one chapter we have a 1.60 Ackerman dragging a 1.80 corpse up a roof with one hand while he climbed with the other, fast. Hereditary power.

(Dumb) Titans: go from 2-3 meters up to 50 meters (colossal titans within the walls). Humanoid. We now know they are all humans that were turned into that form. No clear female characteristics even if created from a female, no reproductive organs. They regenerate all kinds of wounds almost instantly, including the brain, all except the nape of the neck, which is also where a titan-shifter would be placed, cutting off a large portion of that area kills them. They have very light bodies, an arm several meters long can be easily lifted by a person. They don't need to eat anything, but will chase after humans and titan-shifters, can be entombed without light, food or air for extended periods of time and remain alive. They seem to generate heat, in particular the skinless titan-shifters.

Titan-shifters. In human form they have: extreme regeneration, survival to almost all kinds of wounds, can transfer their conciousness out of their brain to other parts of their nervous system or to their titan, can survive being frozen without food and air for extended periods of time (Annie is alive but trapped in a crystal in human form, the titans in the walls are trapped without light or air but alive, Reiner gets his whole head blown off and survives, Ymir regenerates having her body crushed, almost all shifters had body parts cut off and fully regenerating quickly). And of course, all titan shifters can, upon inflicting a small wound on themselves, invoke a titan that goes from 7 meters up to 60. The creation of this titan is almost instantaneous, cause some kind of lightning centered on the shifter, apparently needs to be done under sunlight (might be possible to do it if there is moonlight), and the only apparent cost to the shifter is becoming tired after using it, and possibly reducing their life expectancy. Some titan-shifters can control dumb titans when they are in their titan form. The only way to create a new titan-shifter, that we know of, is for a dumb titan to eat the nape of the neck of a titan-shifter.

The Coordinate: we are led to believe it is a titan-shifter with exceptional powers, such as controlling dumb titans, humans and possibly titan-shifters at will, including erasing or altering their memories. They can pass the memories of the previous owner from generation to generation to the point the original personality of the first Coordinate owner remains almost unaltered, even if repressed, through their whole family line.
This seems at odds with the fact that unlike titan-shifters, the Coordinate can actually control titans and humans while he/she is in human form, and force them to perform very complex operations.


So what do you think? what were each of these engineered for, and what are they made of, specially the titans and titan-shifters?


Wed Mar 09, 2016 2:14 pm
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Post Re: The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
This looks like a bot.


Wed Mar 09, 2016 2:46 pm
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Post Re: The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
Argron has more than 50 posts here. He's not a bot.

I don't mind off-topic posts having to do with science or science fiction (though in my opinion there there isn't enough science in Attack of Titan to fill a period).

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Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:03 pm
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Post Re: The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
Or enough plot to make a decent story.


Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:22 pm
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Post Re: The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
As Arioch hath bestowed his mighty blessing, I shall answer your original post:

It's amateur scifi gibberish. The Titans violate the Square-Cube Law, the Law of Conservation of Matter, and the Law of Conservation of Energy.

The Square-Cube Law states that the bigger something is, the more of its strength must be used just to support its increased volume. Titans should get weaker and more vulnerable the larger they are, rather than bigger and stronger. The lightness of their limbs might suggest that Titans overcome this problem by reducing their density, but that would mean that they would become very vulnerable. Since they stomp buildings without pulping themselves, this is not the case.

The Law of Conservation of Matter states that matter cannot just appear. If a Human becomes a 10 meter titan, s/he has to pull that extra mass from somewhere. If a Titan regenerates from a wound, the new flesh has to come from somewhere. A Titan-shifter would have to cart around several tons of extra mass all the time in order to assume their new shape.

The Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy cannot just appear. It can be converted or stored, but not created or destroyed. Thus Titans must have a way of getting energy to supply their movement, heat generation, and regeneration. Since they don't eat, they don't breathe, and they aren't solar powered, there is no input, making them perpetual motion machines.

...and that's not even touching the host of biological issues Titans represent, or the psychic nonsense of the Coordinate.

Frankly, if you have the technology to genetically engineer a Titan, you don't NEED a Titan. There are a whole host of better things you could do with that than make giant naked people who are vulnerable to overgrown box-cutters.

Since there is no good scientific or strategic reason to make them, your guess about their ultimate purpose is as good as mine.

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Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:30 pm
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Post Re: The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
I think that you are looking into this from too much of a scientific angle.

AoT will probably explain everything via alchemy with a certain degree of randomness; the technological time period more closely resembles early 1700 in regards to the primitive looking muskets, general steel working and the lack of steam-power machinery. By the 1800s all advanced nations had a form of industrial scale steam industry that paved the road for the railroad which became commonplace by 1850. Then there is the apparent lack of rifling in the cannons, although the AoT cannons look like the early 19th century equivalents (when rifling begun to be commonplace), the small details of the extra accuracy that the cannoneers of rifled cannons used are missing.

All in all I would say that AoT is early 1700 in its tech level with minor steampunk additions as you said.

The problem then revolves around the titans; all point lead towards alchemy (which is not a science). The creation of solid diamond like matter by an organic being is the most evident of that.

With alchemy there aren't any rules in place, it's what the writer wants to be there and frankly I wouldn't be surprised if his initial plan changed after some point.

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Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:32 pm
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Post Re: The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
dragoongfa wrote:
I think that you are looking into this from too much of a scientific angle.

AoT will probably explain everything via alchemy with a certain degree of randomness; the technological time period more closely resembles early 1700 in regards to the primitive looking muskets, general steel working and the lack of steam-power machinery. By the 1800s all advanced nations had a form of industrial scale steam industry that paved the road for the railroad which became commonplace by 1850. Then there is the apparent lack of rifling in the cannons, although the AoT cannons look like the early 19th century equivalents (when rifling begun to be commonplace), the small details of the extra accuracy that the cannoneers of rifled cannons used are missing.

All in all I would say that AoT is early 1700 in its tech level with minor steampunk additions as you said.

The problem then revolves around the titans; all point lead towards alchemy (which is not a science). The creation of solid diamond like matter by an organic being is the most evident of that.

With alchemy there aren't any rules in place, it's what the writer wants to be there and frankly I wouldn't be surprised if his initial plan changed after some point.


Pretty much. Titans = magic, which means you can throw physics out the window. But Argron did ask how they might work based on modern science, and the answer to that is that they really, really don't.

MAGIC! It solves all problems! ...quite literally.

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Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:42 pm
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Post Re: The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
Thanks Arioch, I guess we'll have to wait and see where the author goes, the hints of an advanced civilization are there, but dunno how he is going to justify all the titan bullshit lol

joestej: indeed, I find titans and titan-shifters very hard to explain, at least under modern science. The closest scientific explanation I can think of is that titan-shifters aren't really human anymore, but some artificial replica that has massive amounts of energy stored in them and use it to regenerate and create those titans which while huge are mostly empty space. Could highly advanced beings made of nanomachines be an explanation?.
Anyway, I think the titan in itself is one huge misdirection, and the titan-shifter original purpose was to stay in their human form, maybe for hazardous jobs or as a form of inmortality and end to all illness, the dumb titans being just one big accident or attack. This would explain why the best, most "complete model" of titan shifter can perform all kinds of functions while being still in human form while others can't.
But hey, maybe I'm thinking too much and it's just magic and alchemy, I really dunno lol
Just a correction, titans are solar powered, they enter sleep mode at night (although there were some exceptions related to the beast titan, using moonlight to move).

Dragoongfa, it is as you say, but the problem to that theory are the ackerman supersoldiers and the titan-shifter village. The shifters have modern clothing, drink coffee which is unknown within the walls, knowledge of baseball is commonplace and can turn humans into dumb titans. We don't know anything about them, but so far almost everything we know of them points towards modern technology.
Also the nobles and royal family within the walls have been actively mind controlling the population, altering memories, destroying history and creating a new one, supressing new technology, etc. The author puts a lot of focus on this and he is not one to throw hints for the hell of it. In particular, the owner of the coordinate has always been focused on creating some kind of peaceful haven for humanity, and was adamant on not accepting change or using his/her power to eliminate the titans, so they can keep a remnant of humanity controlled and pacified within the walls united against an external threat. It all points towards forcing humanity into a stagnant society with no technological development "for their own good", and in fact the whole focus of the manga, even the intro of the anime is fighting this stagnation and fear of change.


Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:37 pm
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Post Re: The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
hi hi

Unfortunately, there is a real limit to the amount of energy that can be stored in any mass, chemically, atomically, and total-matter conversationaly. There is also a hard limit to the amount of solar energy anything can collect with regards to its surface area, and there is a reason why no ambulatory life forms rely on solar energy. An average tree, produces about 56 grams of glucose in a day, or roughly 937216 joules. That is not enough energy to run a human who is just sitting around, let alone a giant human, and a tree is going to have more surface area.

People are already made up of nanomachines. (Called cells) Nanomachines have issues when working at macro scales, mostly because they're slow, and they're not nearly as structurally sound as something like solid steel. And titans would need to be made out of something like solid steel, because regular organic matter would not hold up at those sizes and speeds. (When an elephant trips and falls, it is a life threatening event.)


Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:37 pm
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Post Re: The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
A notable transgressor on the conservation of mass issue is the original Alien. Only a few hours after emerging as a chestburster-sized juvenile, the alien has inexplicably grown to a 7-foot adult. It's not physically possible for the chestburster to have absorbed enough nutrients to have fueled this growth, and there's no evidence that it ate anything subsequent to leaving the host (nor, for that matter, have we seen adult aliens eating in any of the movies).

icekatze wrote:
And titans would need to be made out of something like solid steel, because regular organic matter would not hold up at those sizes and speeds. (When an elephant trips and falls, it is a life threatening event.)

Organic compounds can be quite strong, especially when artificially engineered. And Earth did have some Titan-sized apex predators during the Cretaceous period that look like they may have been pretty robust, though admittedly not capable of the same kind of sprint-and-wall-crush antics that we see some of the Titans perform.

I think there are a variety of ultra-tech ways to construct a working Titan, but (as has been mentioned) no way to make one operate indefinitely without a fuel supply, or to make one transform to human size and back again. (And, of course, no valid explanation for why they would exist in the first place, though in a horror-type story that's not really a liability, as over-explaining things in horror is usually not beneficial.)

I stopped watching Attack on Titan after the first half-dozen episodes not because of problems with the Titans, but because I couldn't stomach the angsty-teenager crap and high school drama that is apparently a required element of every anime nowadays. Pretty sick of it.

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Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:37 pm
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Post Re: The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
Sounds like you should try One Punch Man if you haven't already. It's not really sci-fi, but it's one of the few recent good Anime that evades the whole angst + highschool drama crap.

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Thu Mar 10, 2016 11:44 pm
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Post Re: The science behind Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
If we are making recommendations, I'll add Death Parade to the list. Very Twilight Zone'ish and only 12 episodes.


Fri Mar 11, 2016 3:02 am
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