Fan-made Proton Packs
Plot element from the Ghostbusters franchise Publisher Columbia Pictures First appearance Ghostbusters (1984) Created by Egon Spengler and Ray Stantz Genre Science fiction, Comedy In-story information Type Paranormal elimination tool
The Proton Pack is a fictional energy weapon used for weakening ghosts and aiding in capturing them within the Ghostbusters universe. First depicted in the film Ghostbusters, it has a hand-held wand ("Neutrona Wand" or particle thrower) connected to a backpack-sized particle accelerator. It fires a positively charged stream of protons that attract the negatively charged energy of a ghost, allowing it to be held in the stream while active.
In the Ghostbusters universe
The Proton Pack, designed by Dr. Egon Spengler, is a man-portable particle accelerator system that is used to create a charged particle beam - composed of protons - that is fired by the proton gun (also referred to as the "neutrona wand"). Described in the first movie as a "positron collider", it presumably functions by colliding high-energy positrons to generate its proton beam. The beam allows a ghostbuster to contain and hold "negatively charged ectoplasmic entities". This containment ability allows the wielder to position a ghost above a trap for capture.
While the Ghostbusters' dialogue indicates that the accelerator system operates similarly to a cyclotron (and indeed Dr. Peter Venkman refers to the Proton Packs in one scene as "unlicensed nuclear accelerators"), modern particle accelerators produce well collimated particle beams. This is far different from the beam from a Proton Pack, which tends to undulate wildly (though it still stays within the general area at which the user is aiming). The proton stream is quite destructive to physical objects, and can cause extensive property damage.
In the 2009 Ghostbusters game, Ray explains how the Proton Pack works early in the game; the energy emitted by the Proton Stream helps to dissipate psychokinetic (PK) energy which ghosts use to manifest themselves. Draining them of their PK energy weakens them, allowing them to be captured in their portable ghost traps.
According to a line spoken by Egon in Ghostbusters II, each pack's energy cell has a half-life of 5,000 years. Knobs on the main stock of the Proton Pack can perform various functions to customize the proton stream, including adjustments for stream intensity, length, and degrees of polarization. In the cartoon series, The Real Ghostbusters, the maximum power setting for the Proton Packs is "500,000 MHz," which possibly refers to the rate of positron collisions occurring within the pack's accelerator system. In the cartoon the packs also have a self-destruct mechanism capable of affecting at least a half-mile radius. The Real Ghostbusters and the Extreme Ghostbusters also made proton packs less efficient with power cells, allowing them to run out of energy when appropriate for dramatic tension, the latter needing replaceable cartridges.
Crossing the Streams"There's something very important I forgot to tell you! Don't cross the streams… It would be bad… Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light."—Egon Spengler/Harold Ramis on crossing proton streams
Crossing the streams was initially discouraged, as Egon believed that "total protonic reversal" would occur: this effect would have catastrophic results (see quote above). However, in a desperate effort to stop the powerful Gozer the Gozerian, Egon noted that the door to Gozer's temple "swings both ways" and that by crossing the streams, they may be able to create enough force to close the door on Gozer and its control. As the Ghostbusters cross the streams, the combination of that much energy closes the door to Gozer's dimension and severs its ties to our world. The resulting blast destroys a good portion of the roof and blows up the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
In Ghostbusters: The Video Game, the Ghostbusters mention that "crossing the streams" during the Gozer Incident (events of the first Ghostbuster's film) only worked due to the presence of a cross-dimension portal (a tactic which is referred to as the "Gozer gambit" by Ray) and should only be used as a last resort. During the games climax, the ghostbusters are pulled into Ivo Shandor's ghostly realm and come face-to-face with Shandor's Destructor form forcing them to resort to "crossing the streams" to defeat Shandor. The resulting blast not only destroys Shandor but also sends the team flying back to their dimension. During gameplay, it is possible for the player to cross the streams with another Ghostbuster, but this will only cause a burst of energy to travel down the stream and deal a massive amount of damage to the player, also knocking them off their feet for a short time, due to a new "safety" that was installed on the neutrona wand.
In Ghostbusters: The Video Game
The game features a modified version of the Proton Pack (an experimental prototype) which is given to the player (the Ghostbuster's new Experimental Equipment Technician/guinea pig) for field testing. This new proton pack is equipped with other features (and upgrades) besides the standard proton stream. Here a list of its various features:
- Proton Stream
- The Proton pack's standard function that is used to wrangle ghost and/or dispatching lesser paranormal entities (and property).
- Boson Darts
- In addition to the proton stream, Boson Darts are super depolarized bursts of extremely volatile, but very effective, boson particles however they quickly overheat the Proton pack, and as such should be used sparingly.
- Slime Blower Mark II
- The Slimer Blower Mark II (also known as the "Plasm Distribution System") it is incorporated directly into the Proton Pack (unlike the Mark I) and uses a self-regenerating strain (developed through research and experimentation with "Mood Slime") of positively charged ectoplasm (or mood slime). Along with the Proton Stream, it is an important tool in the Ghostbusters arsenal used to mainly free possessed humans and to disperse the hazardous negatively charged "Black Slime".
- Slime Tether
- It also featured a secondary function in the "Realistic Version" which enabled the user to fire a strand of slime fixed to two points used to pull objects together and solve many of the game's puzzles.
- Slime Mines
- In the Stylized Version, the Slime Tether is replaced with Slime Mines that, when fired, disperse a large amount of slime over a wider area.
- Shock Blast
- The Shock Blast attachment expels a conical pattern of stripped Dark Matter particles that diffuse quickly in atmosphere. It is basically the proton pack's version of a shotgun and like a shotgun it is best used when in close quarters.
- Stasis Stream
- The Stasis Stream emits a high-capacity stream of order-reversing particles that hypobond to ectoplasmic matter, effectively immobilizing ghosts (what Winston calls a freeze ray). As pointed out by Ray, the stasis stream has nothing to do with cold, but the effect is similar to freezing them.
- Meson Collider
- Ray describes the Meson collider as incredibly precise and deals a lot of damage but takes a while to recharge. It also marks targets for the overload Pulse
- Overload Pulse
- The Overload Pulse disperses around a shot of Meson particles and can be fired rapidly, and can be used in tandem with the Meson Collider to create a implosion around a ghost to deal extra damage.
As props in the real world
The props representing proton packs were created by the prop department of Columbia Pictures. They are made of molded fiberglass shells on aluminium backplates (or "motherboards") bolted to military surplus A.L.I.C.E. frames. The basic shape was sculpted from foam; later, a rubber mold was made of it, from which fiberglass shells were pulled. The "wand" had an extending barrel mechanism and the electronics were quite advanced for the time. They were then finished with various surplus 1960s resistors, pneumatic fittings, hoses and ribbon cable, and surplus warning labels and custom-made metal fittings. The overall weight of these props is said to be around 35 lbs. These "hero" props were substituted in stunt scenes by flimsy foam rubber pulls from the same mould. The proton packs have a lightbar with 15 blue scrolling lights in a box on the left-hand side and 4 red lights in the circular "cyclotron" portion of the bottom of the prop that light up in rotation. The "wand" also featured numerous light features; the most elaborate versions had fluorescent bargraphs, incandescent bulbs, and strobing flashes in the tip for the visual effects crew to synchronize the 'streams' to.
Some of the Packs from Ghostbusters I were used in the followup Ghostbusters II; these packs were slightly redressed with a black crank knob and thinner ribbon cable. The angle of the gun, or "wand" mount was changed to pitch forward slightly, in order to make the prop easier for the actor to use. In addition to these redressed props, one of the originals was hastily cast as a buck to produce basic lightweight "midgrade" props (as a solution to complaints by the actors about the weight of the original prop). These midgrade pieces featured many details cast in as part of the mould, instead of separate fittings. The electronics and mechanisms were also cut down greatly, reducing the total weight. The original GB1 props would appear in close-ups, the midgrade in all other scenes, and new rubber "stunt" packs were made for whenever the actor needed to take a fall. Several GB2 packs have surfaced for auction—at least one rubber stunt, and one fibreglass midgrade prop. The auctioned midgrade prop was lost shortly after sale in an airport baggage mishap. The piece was documented before its loss, and revealed much of the shoddy casting techniques used in its creation. All three variations of the GB2 pack have been displayed at various Planet Hollywood restaurants around the U.S.
Many movie prop replica communities have sprung up regarding proton pack research and contain various methods and plans for constructing a replica proton pack. Early script descriptions of the proton pack stated each pack had two neutrona wands, strapped to the wrists, rather than one held in a fashion similar to an assault rifle. Toy proton packs were formerly made by Kenner and became available in toy shops. They consisted of a plastic hollow pack and gun, with a yellow foam cylinder attached to the front of the gun to represent the beam.
- ^ "A Ghost-Zapping Device Is the Season's Stunner". The New York Times. 1987-12-25. http://www.nytimes.com/1987/12/25/business/a-ghost-zapping-device-is-the-season-s-stunner.html?scp=2&sq=The%20Real%20Ghostbusters&st=cse. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- ^ a b c d Reitman, Ivan (Director), Aykroyd, Dan and Ramis, Harold (Writers) (1984-07-08). Ghostbusters (Motion picture). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087332/. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- ^ Particle accelerator
- ^ Reitman, Ivan (Director), Aykroyd, Dan and Ramis, Harold (Writers) (1989-07-16). Ghostbusters II (Motion picture). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097428/. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- ^ The Real Ghostbusters (Television show). 1986. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090506/. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- ^ Eisenberg, Adam (1989). "Ghostbusters Revisited". Cinefex. Archived from the original on 2009-10-23. http://web.archive.org/web/20091023194602/http://geocities.com/Hollywood/Lot/2976/ghostrevisited1.html. Retrieved 14 September 2009.
- ^ GhostbustersDotNet (1989). "The Real Ghostbusters Proton Pack & Ghost Popper Commercial". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6UpvqDa-OE. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
Ghostbusters franchise Films Television Other mediaComicsSongsOther Video gamesNew Ghostbusters 2 (1990) • The Real Ghostbusters (Game Boy) (1993) • Extreme Ghostbusters (2001) • Extreme Ghostbusters: Code Ecto-1 (2002) • Extreme Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Invasion (2004) • Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009) • Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime (2011) Universe
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