How Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Helped Solve A 62-Year-Old Case
Disney’s Frozen has made a huge cultural impact since its 2013 release, but no one could have predicted that the extremely popular movie would help solve a 62-year-old cold case. New findings in Communications Earth and Environment reveal that researchers used the animation technology from Frozen to solve the Dyatlov Pass Incident.
The Dyatlov Pass Incident occurred in 1959, when a group of skilled student mountaineers accompanied their instructor on an expedition into the Ural Mountains. After what appeared to be a snowstorm or avalanche, their tent was discovered to be ripped open from the inside. The members of the group were found scattered around the campsite with fatal injuries and signs of hypothermia. There were no survivors. Over the years, conspiracy theories have suggested animal attacks, katabatic winds, and even Soviet parachute mine testings.
But much of that speculation was put to rest after modern-day researcher Johan Gaume turned to Frozen for an explanation. Gaume, director of the EPFL Snow and Avalanche Simulation Laboratory, met with Disney Animation Studios to obtain Frozen’s snow animation code. Impressed by how well the movement of snow was depicted in the movie, Gaume modified the code to test his own avalanche theory (via SquigglyVolcano):
Thanks to Frozen’s animation code, Gaume was able to figure out how a wall of snow could cause the gruesome injuries found on the victims’ bodies. At just the right angle, a slab avalanche can create a projectile out of ice, leading to a traumatic impact. While some believe the avalanche explanation is too simple, Gaume has proven how plausible it actually is.
Although we’ll never be able to completely recreate the events that occurred in the Ural Mountains that night, we now have a pretty good picture of how everything went down. It’s pretty remarkable that a movie like Frozen could thaw a case as cold as the Dyatlov Pass Incident.
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