Friday, January 3, 2014

The Buggy Physics Of Superman (Part Three)

Imagine this: Lois Lane is dangling from the landing gear of an overturned helicopter. Down beneath her feet, there are more than thirty-stories of empty space. Her fingers peel away from the landing gear, one by one, and Lois falls through thin air at a rate of 9.81mph. Superman pulls open his dress shirt, revealing the red S on his chest. He shoots up and snatches her by she could hit the ground. “I’ve got you” Superman says to Lois. Lois looks down to the ground and all around and then asks “You got me. Who’s got you?”

The issue with this is that Lois appears to have hit Terminal Velocity. Terminal Velocity is the maximum speed an object can fall through a medium. Gravity is pulling at Lois at a rate of 9.81mph but the air is slowing her down. It can be assumed that Lois’s terminal velocity is approximately 120mph. For Superman to catch Lois in midair, he has to fly faster than the speed of her decent. Superman was also flying upward. Sir Isaac Newton introduced the First Law of Motion, which dictates that an object in motion will remain in motion until it is met by an equal or opposite force. This means that Superman is hitting Lois Lane at a speed faster than 120mph, but her internal organs and her skeletal structure are all moving at 120mph downward. Using real-world physics, Lois would die.

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