Superman: The Physics Screw Up Superhero Essay

2721 words - 11 pages

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman! In 1938, Action Comics #1, released the first Superman comic to the public. Superman, also known as Kal El, has shown many different powers since his first debut in 1938. This paper will discuss various topics about four of his major powers and explain why they are all impossible for anyone to achieve in real life. Superman’s four major powers that will be discussed in this paper are X-ray vision, being able to fly, super strength, and invulnerability.
The X-ray was first discovered in 1895 by a German physicist named W.C. Roentgen (“The Discovery”). W.C. Roentgen was working in his lab one day in 1895 and decided to send a high electrical current through a cathode ray filled with special gas. He realized that a dim green colored light was being produced, and decided to hold the cathode ray just above his wife’s hand. When he did this he observed that the light was able to penetrate human skin, but would leave all the bones visible. There is a picture below of the X-ray of W.C. Roentgen’s wife’s hand (“The Discovery”). He named it the X-ray because he did not know the identity of what kind of ray it was. He just named it X, because of its use in solving unknowns in algebraic equations (“The Discovery”).
However, there are some limitations on this Superman power in both the laws of physics and in the laws of the human body. The first restriction is that in an X-ray, tiny rays will pass through any atoms that don’t have enough mass to stop the rays (Inglis-Arkell). This is because when an atom absorbs a photon (ray), one of the atom’s electrons has to jump from a space near the atom to a space that is further away using a precise amount of energy (Inglis-Arkell). However, an electron does not have the ability to do this. Electrons can only occupy certain energy levels. So, if the atom does not have these energy levels, the photon will pass right through it (Inglis-Arkell). There is also another limitation that involves the human body. This limitation is the chemical composition of the body. The chemical composition of the body is 65% oxygen, 18.5% carbon, 9.5% hydrogen, 3.2% nitrogen, 1.5% calcium, 1.0% phosphorus, 0.4% potassium, 0.3% sulfur, 0.2% sodium, 0.2% chlorine, and 0.1% magnesium (Graeca). Of all of these elements contained in the human body, only calcium has the ability to absorb X-rays. Calcium makes up about 1.5% of the composition of the human body (Graeca). However, the problem with this is that the eye does not contain any of this calcium. The eye is made up of aqueous humor and vitreous humor materials (Graeca). “Aqueous humor is made up of 99.9% water – the other 0.1% consists of sugars, vitamins, proteins and other nutrients. This fluid nourishes the cornea and the lens, as well as giving the eye its shape” (“The Aqueous”). “Vitreous humor is composed of water by 98%, a small percentage of collagen type II with hyaluronic acid, and low amount of protein fibers” (“Improve”). So,...

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