Just how do those mountains stay afloat in Avatar? Our readers come up with some possible explanations . . .

The general reaction to those floating mountains in Avatar was as one site visitor put it: “On this planet, huge rocks can float (and generate endless water) - don’t think about it too much.”

Another visitor e-mailed that “I did have a hard time suspending disbelief for many, many reasons in the movie, but let it go because it looked so damn good.”

However site visitors such as Andi from Germany just couldn’t let it go:

“I think I am an open-minded sci-fi fan. I don’t complain about giant flying rocks, but there was one thing that instantly had my attention..... WATERFALLS ON THEM?! What the heck was Cameron thinking? Maybe there are flying oceans above the rocks!”

Most of the site visitors believe that magnetism of some sort is involved in keeping those mountains afloat:

“I would have thought that the grounded mountains and the floating ones both have negative or both have positive magnetic charges – really, really strong ones! Everyone has seen the floating magnet trick: Something like that anyway . . .”

One site visitor named John Newsom came up with the most detailed (and lengthy) explanation for those mountains. John says his scientific background comes from a “degree in construction engineering” and, um, “reading science fictions books.” He says he “started reading at six and never stopped.”

Here’s what he has to say:

“When they first entered the area that disturbs their radar it is explained that it’s a nexus point of the planet. The location of their god.

Early on in the movie they showed a real-time view of the electric flow of the planet channelled at a single point. Without a point of reference, I have to assume a moon-sized structure would produce enormous amount of electricity - maybe enough to float mountains.

I assume that for their radar to be knocked out it would mean there is a type of strong electric magnetic field. If in the same area were clusters of lightweight Ferromagnetism material (material X) and add the fact the gravity is less than that of Earth. Also include that we know that two magnetic fields brought together will repel each other, this repulsion could be the answer to how the mountain float.

It’s possible that material X, during the earlier days of the planet’s formation, small chunks of this material floated away due to the increasing strength of this magnetic field. As the jungle grew, these chunks got stuck in the roots. Over time these roots grew bigger and stronger as the smaller chunks became rocks, boulders, eventually mountains. The bigger the chunks, the stronger the opposing fields, the greater the height and size of the mountains. Pulling away from the planet, but slow enough for the root system and trees to grow strong enough to hold the evolution of the sand to rocks, then boulders and finally mountains.

We see this sort of evolution all the time on our world. Given enough time plants, if allowed, too will continue to grow and cover everything, including whole cities.”

But there is a catch:

“The magnetic field that keeps the mountains afloat also would tear the ships apart. Unless there was a totally different type of field that acts like magnetism, but does not effect ferrous material like Earth gun ships or the iron in our blood.”

And those waterfalls?

“Some of the mountains are pretty high up. It’s possible storm clouds are constantly getting caught by them. A storm cloud flies by, and is caught by the mountain, it floats there raining down onto the mountain. The mountain might look solid, but could have a structure similar to coral; all those openings and passage ways trap the water till the entire structure fills up and starts to run over, forming waterfalls. I would bet it’s similar to the system at the Grand Canyon. During the raining season there you get these flash floods that run through their forming the canyons you see today.

During the raining season on the planet the water starts to collect in the mountains and eventually enough water is collected to form the waterfalls. It’s seasonal, not constant.”

So there you have it. Do you have a scientific background and think it’s all bunk? Agree? Then let us know at



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).