It is official! Those who live and breathe science are superhero fanatics This depiction was rightly shown on the infamous American sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory“. Even though it was “reel life”, this analogy is no different in real life too. Recently, a group of students at the University of Leicester published their 7-year-long study on superheroes. In fact, the reason as to why it took them this long is the copious amount of calculation going into a Superman’s energy reservoir or The Flash’s exact speed. One thing is for sure, this list is surely the one that will finally set the score. Moreover, we might as well find out which faction, DC or Marvel, prevails.
Will it be Thor or The Flash? Will it be Marvel or DC? Above all, will it be Superman or Batman? Before we get to the list, it is important to note that this is the order that the students put them. This is NOT a personal piece.
Although the suspense didn’t last long, Batman on number 10 will surely be a surprise for everyone. Trust me, it is not because the students didn’t like Robert Pattinson playing the role. But the caped crusader wasn’t able to please the student with his mode of travel. We are talking about the batcape. So, with the batcape on, Batman can cruise at speeds up to 110 km/hr. However, the problem is when he lands. With that much momentum heading into the landing(without his “bat-parachute”), Batman will be crushed, almost as if a truck hit him. In short, Batman’s landing is not “heroic” after all! Batman could use some handheld boosters to ante up his superhero game!
Refrigeration is a fascinating process. It took mankind a lot of failed attempts before building an ergonomic prototype of a Refrigerator. But, Iceman has this gift on his veins. Producing some kind of organic refrigerant and pushing it out of his body would need to require a lot of energy. As per the very fundamental law of thermodynamics, energy can neither be created nor be destroyed. Hence, to calculate the amount of energy that Iceman would need to produce, the students turned their heads to thermodynamics. Turns out, Marvel’s coolest superhero must consume as much as 10,000 kilocalories to produce 1 kg of ice. In addition to that, he would want to consume 2000 kcal to keep his metabolism running. If he is to convert all of his energy to ice, he wouldn’t survive for long.
8. Iron Man
World’s favourite Engineer ranked 8 on a list prepared by Scientists?! Although it is surprising, the students came to this conclusion after writing 2 theses. One on Iron Man’s and another one on his arc reactor. Generally, his arc reactor needs Vibranium to power it. In order to study the nuclear properties, the students took Hassium as a reference point and started calculating the half-life. As a result of this extensive study, they concluded that Vibranium’s stable isotope would have a half-life of just 14 seconds. If you don’t follow, this is not sufficient for energy. Even if his suit could stabilise the arc for a longer period, shock absorbency is an issue. Concretely, it is about time Iron Man revamp his tech if he is to return!
Iron Man’s favourite superhero, Spider-Man(Peter Parker) appeals to the interests of the students as well. Spider-Man wouldn’t be a superhero if it wasn’t for his spider silk. Even though Tony Stark gave him some tech, we all love the classic Spidey suit with nothing else but the silk to battle enemies. Therefore, silk is an important part of his superhero. Holding him stable while he cruises at 68.83 mph, the spider silk seems to have supernatural strength and durability. But, their study shows that the spidey’s silk is comparable to that produced by a real spider. Full marks for scientific accuracy, but would it be able to hold him while he swings? Now it is clear why Tony gave him some tech!
6. Silver Surfer
w far is it effective? In one of the iconic scenes, Silver Surfer knocks Doctor Doom using his superpowers pushing him 30 metres through the air. What seems like a shockwave, Silver Surfer would need a force of at least 214.5 N to do so. This is the result the students obtained on their “Knocking Dr Doom off his feet The energy and force behind the Silver Surfers attack” research paper.
5. The Flash
Perhaps one of the few characters to depict Quantum Physics in its movies(the web series to be specific), The Flash is undeniably a fan favourite. But scientists question his energy. The very energy that he would need to run faster. To put an end to this mystery, the students calculated the maximum attainable speed of this quick-footed superhero. Turns out, he can run three times faster than what is being depicted in the movie. However, this speed can kill civilians. For instance, if Flash is to save a cyclist from getting hit by a taxi, then the speed of “impact may be more damaging than if the cyclist had been hit by the taxi.”
Mystique ranked 4th might surprise you. But for the students, she is the (second) best mutant to be featured in the X-Man series. Her ability to shapeshift at her will fascinated the students. For once, it is due to a nanocrystal present on her skin. Believe it or not, the same crystal is believed to be a part of cuttlefish. Furthermore, not only is she a mutant, but she mutates continuously to help her transform into different shapes. The downside of her mutation is the chances of exposing herself to the dangers of cancer.
The God of Asgard is in the top 3 of the student’s list. The reason for this is Thor’s Mjolnir. Made out of iron from the heart of a red dwarf, his hammer is the source for his powers. After studying the bounds of this hammer’s superpowers, the students calculated the exact kinetic energy that Thor could draw from the storms. The numbers, on the other hand, are unsettling. If their study is accurate, then the power output from his strikes would be around 2 x 10^12 W. This is 100 times more than what is being produced in the world’s largest nuclear facility!
Remember why we called Mystique the second best? Wolverine has a set of “supercells” that replicate and differentiate in order for him to self-heal. However, for this to happen, the cells have to overcome the Hayflick limit. This allows the cell to replicate 40 to 60 times before undergoing cell death. Furthermore, Wolverine possesses an enzyme called telomerase. Due to which, his cells are able to reproduce at a staggering rate without accumulating much damage. Along with his incredible healing ability, Logan has them claws! But the students didn’t study its prowess.
After 7 years and more than 20 theses(6 for Superman alone!), the students judged Superman as their favourite superhero. Skipping the introduction as to who Superman is and what he is capable of achieving, the reason for him to be ranked first lies in his ability to store energy. Perhaps the most efficient solar panel, Superman can save as much as 3.86 x 10^10 J of energy every SECOND!! Combined with many of his other superpowers, Superman is indeed super and is one of the best, as determined by the Scientists.