By Aylin Woodward

A view of a tent rescuers found on February 26, 1959 in the Dyatlov pass. The tent had been cut open from the inside, and most of the campers had fled in socks or barefoot. Courtesy of the Dyatlov Memorial Foundation

Elsa and Anna are solving mysteries. Disney’s animated film “Frozen” helped researchers solve a 62-year-old cold case.

Technology used in the Pixar film helped to piece together what likely happened the night of the Dyatlov Pass incident.

One day into an expedition to the mountains of northern Russia, Yuri Yudin, an avid skier and student at the Ural Polytechnic Institute, felt a pain in his lower back. His sciatic nerve had flared up, and it forced him to leave his group and turn around.

The decision saved his life.

The nine remaining members of the expedition continued hiking and cross-country skiing toward a mountain called Gora Otorten. Then on February 1, 1959, five days after Yudin left, they all died mysteriously.

Rescuers found the group’s large tent, which had been cut open from the inside, nearly four weeks later. The bodies were discovered up to a mile away, down the mountain, some clad in only socks and underwear. Something had caused the hikers to flee shoeless from their tent in temperatures of minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 25 degrees Celsius).

The “Dyatlov Pass Incident” – named after Igor Dyatlov, the group’s leader – became one of Russia’s most infamous cold cases. The hikers’ immediate causes of death were eventually determined: Six died of hypothermia, and three from blunt force trauma to their chest and head. But the cause of the disaster remained a mystery.

Igor Dyatlov, one of the nine hikers who died during the Dyatlov Pass incident in 1959. Courtesy of the Dyatlov Memorial Foundation

For 62 years, the mystery of what led to their deaths went unsolved as the “small collapse” was unlikely to cause such blunt force trauma. It became Russia’s most famous cold case.

That all changed when one researcher watched the children’s movie for the first time.

Recently, Johan Guame of the Snow Avalanche Simulation Laboratory used technology from Disney’s animated feature film Frozen to come up with a theory that may have solved this cold case. According to a report, Joahn Guame was watching Frozen when he wondered how Disney was able to make such realistic looking snow in the film.

The technology to simulate that movement was unparalleled. So, Guame emailed the animators to inquiry. From there, he traveled to Los Angeles to meet with the specialist responsible for the movement on-screen. The researcher obtained a version of the snow animation code for his avalanche simulations. Gaume intended to figure out how avalanches would affect the human body.

Guame used the technology that he received from Disney in his efforts and was able to show that an avalanche was the most likely cause of the Dyaltov Pass Incident.

It is truly incredible that a Disney movie could help solve such an infamous cold case and a testament to the talent of the Disney animators’ dedication to having things like this be depicted as realistically as possible in their films.

So there you go — that is how Frozen helped solve a 62-year-old mystery!




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