August 24, 2012 9:42 pm

Superheroes vs. Science

When I worked at Marvel Comics (yes, feel free to turn green with envy: I worked at both the Mighty House of Ideas and now, StarTalk Radio!), we did in fact spend plenty of time sitting around talking about who was stronger, The Hulk or Thor, or why Magneto, the Master of Magnetism, couldn’t just tear out Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton if he wanted to (and yes, eventually, he wanted to).

So it was with well-deserved trepidation that I ventured to listen to The Physics of Superheroes Part 1.

Wait? You mean he can’t really fly? Or stop bullets? Or see through walls?
Image credit: Warner Bros. / capedwonder.com

Let’s just say that listening to an astrophysicist like Neil deGrasse Tyson, a physicist like James Kakalios and a molecular biologist like Lee Silver discuss being bitten by a radioactive spider or explain to comic co-host Eugene Mirman what X-Ray vision would really be like is a sobering experience.

If you want to bring a little reality into your super hero fantasies, there’s no better place to start than this. And the next time one of your friends who is into DC comics – you know, the one who wears a Flash t-shirt when you all get together to hang out – tries to tell you how it could actually be possible to move that fast, you’ll be armed with your own super power to take him down: scientific fact.

It’s a great, eye-opening episode. But how eager am I to listen to Part 2? About as eager as Ant Man is to jump into the aardvark enclosure at the zoo. As eager as Superman is to put on a Kryptonite t-shirt. As eager as… well, you get the point.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!

–Jeffrey Simons