Syzygy in Netflix’s 3 Body Problem, Explained

Netflix’s ‘3 Body Problem’ introduces the audience to a whole new world. Through the perspective of different characters, we come across a world where there is not one, not two, but three suns. This place first appears in a game that requires the players to come up with elaborate and logical answers with scientific standing to the problem posed by the game. But the more answers the players come up with, the more levels they solve, the harder the question gets. It is when the players witness syzygy that the true nature of the situation comes to light. What is this phenomenon, and how is it important in the world of ‘3 Body Problem’? SPOILERS AHEAD

Syzygy Brings Total Destruction for San-Ti Ren

The world that the aliens inhabit in ‘3 Body Problem’ suffers from the problem of three bodies. Instead of one sun, the planet has three suns, which makes it impossible for them to predict the movement of the celestial bodies and chart a map for their days, months, years, and seasons. It is this haphazardness and the lack of any particular pattern that leads to the Chaotic and Stable Eras in the world.

Through the 3 Body Problem game, the players are introduced to their world. Some modifications are made to make it feel more Earth-like to the players, but overall, the circumstances in the game reflect the real situation on the planet of the aliens. When Jin enters the game, she notices three stars in the sky at night, their movement without any fixed route. On Earth, the one sun allows humans to have a repetition that gives them fixed days and seasons. The predictability of the movement of the Sun gives Earth the basis for its life. But with three suns, it becomes impossible to keep track of their movement. Still, there are a few situations that are bound to happen at one point or another.

Any three bodies moving in close orbits to each other are at some point bound to line up. It’s like the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon lining up and leading to phenomena like eclipses. The same happens for the alien planet with its three suns. It is impossible to know when the three of them will line up and be in the same line as the planet, but it is known that this formation is bound to happen at some point. When this happens, it is called syzygy.

With the mix of all the Chaotic and Stable Eras on the planet, a syzygy is a rare phenomenon, but it is also the worst thing that can happen to the planet. The three suns that surround it are no minor suns. They are normal for their size, which means that their pull of gravity when they line up would be a behemoth for the planet. Usually, when the suns are not in the same line and are randomly moving, their gravities are scattered and don’t have as adverse an effect on the planet. But when the suns line up, their gravities are stacked and have a compounded effect on the planet.

When the gravity increases tri-fold on the planet, it leads to disaster, for which there is no solution. Even if there was a way to predict the movement of the suns and to find out when syzygy will happen, there would be no way to escape its impact. As seen in the 3 Body game, when syzygy happens, the total gravity of the three suns sucks everything into itself. Everything on the planet, from its people to its buildings to its rocks, every single thing on its surface is torn apart by the suns and engulfed by them. There is no way to escape that.

Syzygy is also one of the reasons why the aliens want a different planet for themselves. Not only are they done with the Chaotic and Stable Eras, but they are also aware that someday the syzygy will reach another level, and that day, it won’t just take away the population and the buildings; it will eat the whole planet, leading to the complete destruction of the aliens. This is why they are looking for something more favorable to them. A planet with just one sun at the right distance, with the right conditions, and not too far from its own planet seems all too perfect. Thus, one could say that syzygy is one of the reasons why the aliens want to invade the Earth.

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