I always figured that the word "Jigawatt" was made up just for the movie and meant to sound like a really large amount. It wasn't unit I started researching this flux capacitor replica project that I stumbled across a few references to the actual term. It turns out that the original pronunciation of "Giga" was with the "j" sound (really a soft "g").
Check out the
UPDATE (4/20/13). Merriam-Webster has pulled their alternate pronunciation for gigawatt. Now they only have the "J" sounding version, as used in BTTF. I don't know if they have changed their minds on the alternate or Doc Brown went back in time to correct it. The two pronunciation links above still work though.
I am certainly happy that they used the original, older sounding pronunciation of the word since the story involved time travel and Doc Brown conceived of the flux capacitor on November 5th in 1955 after slipping and hitting his head on the toilet. Ironically, most references point to the early 1960's as the first time the term was used. That's okay at the start of the film as it's set in 1985, but in 1955, the younger Doc Brown should have said "1.21 gigawatts? What's a gigawatt Marty?
The saying over the years has taken on a life of its own. I've heard people say it without even knowing where it came from. What's even more fun is the debate that follows on whether a gigawatt is an actual term. People would rather debate the pronunciation of the word then ponder the possibilities of time travel. Here's hoping for a Back to the Future 4. Let's make it a reality while we still can.
So, how much is 1.21 gigawatt you ask? Well, a gigawatt is equal to one billion (109) watts or 1 gigawatt = 1000 megawatts. If your typical 100 wattt lightbulb (at least what used to be typical before they outlawed them here in the US) were powered for 1 hour, that would be 100 Watt-hours. 1.21 gigawatts would be able to light over 12 million 100 Watt light bulbs for an hour. 1.21 gigawatt is also equivalent to 1,621,400 hours power.
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Check out the build progress I went through on the menu at the left. Please let me know what you think of my site and how I can make it better. Send me you questions and comments. Pictures, I want pictures of your Flux Capacitor replicas, even before you are done. Let me know if you've found a better way of building any of the parts. My first Flux Capacitor replica went to my nephew Ben as a Christmas present. Check out the story on the front page.
I've also added a new Flux Capacitor Store full of cool Back to the Future related paraphernalia, including shirts and DVDs and collectibles. I also have available some Flux Capacitor Parts - Check it out here.