avengers 2 age of ultron
avengers 2 age of ultron

Cosmic Queries: Superheroes

Image courtesy of www.comicbookmovie.com. The Avengers and all characters, names and likenesses are TM & © 2014 Marvel. All rights reserved.

Listen On

About This Episode

Would Superman survive spaghettification within a black hole? What about Mr. Fantastic? Can Magneto control the magnetic field of the Sun and tear apart stars? Could an alien race with enough power create controlled wormholes like the Rainbow Bridge in Thor? Tune in for the answers to these and other Cosmic Queries when host Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Colin Jost (co-anchor of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update) get their geek on, comic book style. Neil injects a dose of physics into Iron Man’s ARC reactor, Captain America’s super strength and the feasibility of Superman gaining power from Earth’s “yellow sun.” You’ll explore Wolverine’s healing factor and adamantium skeleton, cyborgs, the Terminator, nanobots and nanotechnology. Find out why Colin wants to be Wolverine and Neil would choose Batman – even though he really wanted to be Mighty Mouse as a kid.

In This Episode

Music in This Episode

Episode Topics

  • Addam Miller

    w00t! new Episode 🙂

  • wayne

    science fiction is great but that’s what it is fiction let’s stick to reality it feeds me in such a more satisfying way thank you and good night

    • Methys

      Why on earth would you ignore science fiction? sure it might be fantasy now but so was half the technology we take for granted 100 years ago. Its those people dreaming of making fantasy reality that pushes technology, just look at the work on warp drive, transporters, cloaking fields, faster than light communication. All science fiction based and all being worked on at the moment to make them a reality and that’s just from one show.

      • wayne

        In respect to your comment. Neil was being asked questions by gentlemen in relation to superheroes and there remarkable capabilities going up against the best the universe has to offer. Not star trek which is the best science fiction humans have ever comprehended. However your perception of me is wrong i never said to ignore science fiction quite the opposite to ignore science fiction is to ignore are dreams and please dont do that for pete’s sake. Yes i said lets stick to reality but thats how i feel when i tune in to startalk at 12 o’clock in the night on sunday as i am in the uk i hope for something far more wondrous to take me into the unknown when i feel as goooood as i do at that point i can’t explain it and when i can i will have the ansers to the universe i hope my anser is to your satisfactory thank you

      • timelordriversong

        What has technology done for us besides dividing people into tiny boxes and making war more profitable?

        • Taxil Necrobane

          Give you a computer that you can afford to own, stable electricity to run it, and the internet for you to use to make that post that maybe you should have thought twice about before posting it. That and many, many other things.

          • timelordriversong

            We never needed computers, internet or televisions for that matter. Electricity is ok if you are using one of them overpriced stoves and need a hot shower, wood and fire is just as good.. The Native American Indians did just fine without any modern technology. Ancients built adequte shelter without any math, imagine that.

  • anonperson

    thor manipulates the higs field? no idea just a though?

    • msfrost

      Thor is a god.

    • msfrost

      Thor is a god.

  • James choat

    Darn Disney, always throwing in little secrets that we don’t know about, for example 4-d

  • Bob Brady

    Fun, fun new entry of StarTalk Radio Show! Great to have Colin Jost from SNL Update desk spitting knowledge with Neil Degrasse Tyson.

  • Palmer Granite

    Look, Up In The Sky

    As testament to intellectual persistence,
    His fame extends beyond our existence,
    Mere mortals make way,
    To let Neil save the day,
    Superheroes even seek his assistance.

    (Excerpt from: “Splendor In DeGrasse : A Limerick Opera”)

    • wayne

      Speak for yourself. My life and no other is of less importance then the gentleman in question not to diminish all neil has accomplished however no human will ever have less importance then another. We are all equal from the same DNA to the same receding tailbone what the problem is with quoteing this is that you make a man to appear of some kind of star why would you what to do this dont we have too many delusional figures as it is today. Neil is a storyteller with great talent and i have a great amount empathy for him but he is a man as am i as are you. Better yourself by helping another try to see yourself in everyone before you. How strange does it seem for a stranger to show a random act of kindness. without thinking there is alternative motive. lets not plant the seed of jealousy or hatred the mind is very perceptible to this. thank you

      • zb

        Iol are you serious ? its a light hearted comedic poem

        • startalkradio

          2

          Jeffrey Lee Simons
          P: 732-353-6272
          C: 917-952-4829

        • Palmer Granite

          Wondering Amongst The Lines

          Limerick’s don’t give you much time,
          Five lines is the limit, but I’m,
          Depicting the universe,
          In verse that’s so terse,
          With a manifesto implied midst the rhyme.

        • Palmer Granite

          Wondering Amongst The Lines

          Limerick’s don’t give you much time,
          Five lines is the limit, but I’m,
          Depicting the universe,
          In verse that’s so terse,
          With a manifesto implied midst the rhyme.

        • wayne

          Maybe some humans need a all powerful master ?

      • Palmer Granite

        Limerick Translation Explanation

        Nothing relieves everyday strife,
        Like a limerick describing your life,
        They can be so heartwarming,
        Or amusing or charming,
        Or a nasty one about your ex-wife.
        .

        • wayne

          maybe time is but a rhyme
          lacking its paws flaking roars
          boeing lies shaking human ties
          peaceful at there breached abyss
          revealed shining truths blinding light

          A simple goodwill gesture

          • Palmer Granite

            Exactly!

          • wayne

            precisely, entirely, absolutely, completely, totally, just, quite, in every way, in every respect, one hundred per cent, every inch, to the hilt;

            thank you

    • Martin Lawrence

      COMPLETELY AGREE WITH LORD GRANITE ALL HAIL

  • Steve Scheflow

    In regards to the spaghettification of Superman in a black hole, as long as Superman maintained a speed faster than the speed of light, which was assumed as possible, wouldn’t that affect gravity’s effects on Superman?

    • msfrost

      Speed of light, in what medium?

      • Forrest Crouch

        the near vacuum of space, arguably the only medium where this situation would be occuring

    • msfrost

      Speed of light, in what medium?

  • Palmer Granite

    Keep Your Eyes On The Event Horizon

    I thought the worst pain was castration,
    But after Neil’s edification,
    That my dear sweet testicles,
    Could become somewhat lesticles,
    Through black hole spaghettification.

  • Forrest Crouch

    Arguing that Magneto doesn’t have magnetic powers, but a form of telekinesis over all metals because hes able to move non-magnetic metals like Adamantium, aluminum, and lead.

    • Dis guy

      I think it was mentioned at some point that his powers aren’t just to control magnets, but to magnetize anything metal-based and bring it under his control (or some form thereof).

    • Dis guy

      I think it was mentioned at some point that his powers aren’t just to control magnets, but to magnetize anything metal-based and bring it under his control (or some form thereof).

  • Kuro Neko

    If krypton was farther away in light years than superman is old, then the craft that carried him would have to travel at 30+ something times faster than the speed of light, also if he tried to return there he’d die mid-voyage because he’d loose his powers due to the distance from our sun, so… no he could not save his home planet.

  • Marcus Qloshae

    So theoretically, could an embryo be engineered into a silicon based life-form? Also, in that case, wouldn’t this cause problems if not done in a test tube or lab (due to the body of the mother rejecting the silicon based life-form etc.)?
    On this topic, would viruses have the same effect on that life-form or would they be immune to our diseases?

  • Tashimi

    Actually, Superman can alter his personal mono-directional gravity field to propel himself through the air at will. So he’d probably survive, yes. Elastic superheroes? It would depend on how willing you are of believing they’d survive with atom thin tissues.

  • Kagemage

    The Superman question: First, Could Superman use a telescope to view Krypton before it exploded? Only if the craft he used to initially travel to Earth averaged at least his current age times the speed of light (not to mention if the technological specs of a telescope needed to view this scenario exist). So what effects would there be on Earth if there was an impact from a capsule (indestructible?) about the size of a car traveling roughly 30 times the speed of light? Probably not good. As far as doing anything to save Krypton, it depends on if there are any limits to Superman’s time travel ability. He’d still have to travel double the speed of his initial craft even to get there as it explodes, pair this with exactly what happens to time/himself if he could travel 60 times faster than light. Also, his power from Earth’s sun would be taken away as he approached Krypton. Let’s remember, it’s only possible to observe Krypton if that above criteria was met. It has long since expired. Think of it like this, the Sun could have exploded just now and we would have no idea. Our first indication would be in about 8 mins, but the sun itself would already be 8 mins gone.

  • Michael Walker

    No Mirman = no fun.

  • Dobri Div

    try searching pro arm wrestler vs body builder regarding muscle size

  • KALSTER

    Didn’t quite agree with the bit about Captain America. Chimps and Gorillas are MUCH stronger than the strongest humans, even if you have the same amount of muscle mass/volume. It comes down to the structure of the muscles themselves. Humans didn’t evolve to be as strong as possible, but are more built for endurance. Gorillas on the other hand aren’t. Male gorillas are as big and strong as they are in order to battle their peers and possible threats. A manipulation to increase the efficiency of muscle of various types seems reasonable.

  • Jay

    Magneto WAS able to abuse the whole high temperature induced magnetism thing in one episode, where he is able to survive reentry as his orbiting base crashed to earth by magnetically holding the atoms of his own body together as his body burned up. I forget where it happened exactly but I remember it from somewhere.

  • James Lovell

    Concerning the spagettification of superman I have to wonder if hypothetically he enters the black hole at a speed greater than the speed of light would he still be pulled apart by the gravitational pull of the black hole or would the speed he is traveling supercede it since the black hole couldn’t pull his particles faster than he as a whole is travelling.

  • Jim

    If I was magneto, I would send payload into space and make a FORTUNE, then, I would build myself a spaceship, so I can go in that asteroid field, then find a GIANT ROCK OF METAL and then I would set out, to find a giant metal planet… and I dunno fall in love? Something like that

  • Jim

    what if Magneto could control Thor’s hammer!? But not as good as him cuz he didn’t swing his thing all his life like Thor did? And then Loki would fool everybody but Magneto would know about it since he couldn’t control Loki’s hammer since it’s fake!

  • Maximilian

    I’ve never bought into that paradox about going back in time (35:37). It entirely depends on the universe imposing linear cause and effect outside of linear time. If Superman goes back in time he exits the time he came from and violates cause and effect rules, those rules only apply if you stay within their sphere of influence. The time he came from would splinter from everything else, otherwise he would have to disappear which would violate local physical laws.
    It’s essentially the ‘grandfather paradox’, if you kill your grandfather you just orphan yourself.

  • James Deas

    Just wanted to point out that even if super man could turn back time and save his planet his powers are only limited to Earth so I honestly don’t think he’d even make it to his home planet.

    • Maximilian

      It depends on what you consider canon. By most accounts you’re right, but some versions state that the yellow sun aided his development rather than acting as a straight power source.

  • It’s more difficult to be scientists on Earth and raise awareness to protect it than be fictional superheroes conjuring thought experiments.

  • Oh btw, my favorite childhood hero was Captain Planet. I still remember the theme song, and my favorite villain was a villain with a second mini villain controlling from the first villain’s intestine (‘favorite’ as in relative to right-wing science denier politicians)

  • Max

    Regarding the damage Magneto could do with his power – he could possibly neutralize Earth’s magnetic field, and all living creatures on Earth would fry from the solar winds and UV light ^_^

  • Richrome Steel

    I wonder what Neil thinks of Watchmen’s Dr Manhattan

  • Pingback: Episode 174: Super Science Bros » Retcast()

  • Patrick Clayton

    Flaw in this entire Superman conversation. How is he seeing Krypton in the past? Did he travel to earth as a baby faster than the speed of light?

  • Pingback: Mwangi | Marundu()

  • Pingback: Must-Hear Podcasts: A List for Students and Scholars of American Studies - U.S. Studies Online()

  • kg

    I won’t give up.

  • kg

    Yes

  • Pingback: 5 Ways to Make STEM More Exciting For Students | PROGRAMA VÍNCULOS()

  • Andrew Golubiewski

    If we ourselves are natural occurrences of carbon molecules interacting with the universe, why aren’t we deliberately substituting our own carbon equivalents for silicon in an attempt to generate life? If silicon would be the perfect non earth-nature element to substitute for carbon am I unaware of attempts to replace carbon life with silicon? Or are we not attempting to propagate life nature beyond our own molecular components? Am I confused? Are we not at a technological point in society where we could in fact substitute our own carbon equivalents for a silicon substitute that should, in theory, equate for what nature might in (x number of years) create on it’s own?

  • Super heros are a creation from a sociaty where crime is indemic and they feel a need to create ‘superheros’ as their fantacy view of the only way to rid them of crime. that why there was a robin hood when gov was oppresive. stories to make people feel better about something thats out of their control

You Can Also Listen On

Music in This Episode