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Are ‘Real’ physics important?

30 Nov 2009 23:11 #17616 by The Highlander
Are ‘Real’ physics important? was created by The Highlander
Do you consider it important for the physics in Superwoman stories to be real? Obviously some things cannot be explained by real life physics (flight being one of the obvious examples) but a lot of action such as most superstrength feats would.

I’m an engineer by profession, of I have a good understanding of forces, reactions etc and it annoys me when I see something that would be completely impossible. A good example of this is where someone with superstrength stops a speeding vehicle without moving. Unless the person in question has some way of anchoring themselves in place (such as some sort of flight power), it doesn’t matter how strong they are they will be knocked flying.

Does this sort of thing bother anyone else, or is it just me?

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01 Dec 2009 00:14 #17617 by CaptainIrishman
Replied by CaptainIrishman on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
Kind of.
I know that there is a huge element of disbelief in what we read so I'm ok with magic being used to nullify physics. I've no bother with mind powers being crazy-out-there ....but yes, I'm always waiting to see any one deal with civilians getting hit by ricochets ....the heroines may be bullet proof but they can't control ricochets.... Spiderman used to always acknowledge the outcomes of actions, Gwen's death being a prime example.

But what really twists my nipples is the misrepresentation of cultures, ethnicities and other societies in comics. It hurts to read anything set in Ireland. Especially when its Banshee and the Xmen in Ireland. Criminally insulting. (Anyone who has seen the episodes of Heroes set in Cork... yep, its unbelievable the simple things they get wrong - armed Gardai (???) and driving oon wrong side of road).

So, while there are bits in the comics that I'm willing to let slide (Male heroes being able to concentrate while Wonder Woman is in the same room as them) it just wrecks me head when every Irish scene is ultra Oirish. I think thats what winds me up most, not the physics but the civics.

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01 Dec 2009 02:30 #17620 by lfan
Replied by lfan on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
I'm an engineer as well and it doesn't bother me in the least. If I want plausibility and rational physics, I go to work! For me, this is purely fantasy not science fiction.... :P

My .02
ElF

Do you consider it important for the physics in Superwoman stories to be real? Obviously some things cannot be explained by real life physics (flight being one of the obvious examples) but a lot of action such as most superstrength feats would.

I’m an engineer by profession, of I have a good understanding of forces, reactions etc and it annoys me when I see something that would be completely impossible. A good example of this is where someone with superstrength stops a speeding vehicle without moving. Unless the person in question has some way of anchoring themselves in place (such as some sort of flight power), it doesn’t matter how strong they are they will be knocked flying.

Does this sort of thing bother anyone else, or is it just me?

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01 Dec 2009 02:47 #17621 by ace191
Replied by ace191 on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
Ah yes! F=ma Conservation of mommentum. Is it an elastic or inelastic collision.

In writing the Supergirl of Smallville, we decided from the outset that even though Lana was a Supergirl, as much as possible, we would have her obey the laws of Physics. No instant acceleration or deacceleration.
Faster than a speeding bullet you bet. Faster than the speed of light, NO WAY!

In thinking about your typical inelastic collision where mommentum is conserved where say, the semi truck hits the supergirl, there are several things to think about. First, just what is the mass of a Supergirl. Has anyone measured it? Is she superpowered and invunerable because she is superdense? Most likely not as she would crush anything she slept on.

I think a better way to look at it is that a supergirl has some type of adjustable thrust field, where by she can match the oncomming energy of a truck and remain in place while the truck collapses around here. This also allows here to fly and carry really heavy things with her.

The one thing about physics that drives we nuts is when you see the supergirl pick up an ocean liner and fly off with it holding it over her head
with just her hands. Yes she may be strong enough to do it, but the hull would never stand up to that force.

Same thing with picking up a building and flying off with it.

You will note in the SGOS, Lana pulls the tanker by a massive steel anchor chain.

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01 Dec 2009 04:01 #17622 by taliesan
Replied by taliesan on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
One way to get around the physics of a massive object not breaking by being held or lifted by a relatively small area is like the idea of Superboy's Tactile TK. Think of an energy field that only extends with skin contact with an object. The field spreads out and acts to reinforce the massive object, holding it together and preventing the object from breaking apart.

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01 Dec 2009 23:57 #17633 by Random321
Replied by Random321 on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
It's important ~ but only to a point ~ as taliesan said you can explain a lot of Physics away with just a little sci fi.

I will say that when objects around a hero seem more fragile or real I do like it because it only makes it clear how much power there is in said hero(ine).

One example of an effort that fell short would be in Superman Returns ~ the people inside the NASA/Airforce jet were tossed around, and the wings tore off ~ great ~ but then the landing came and I groaned ~ the nose cone only crushed a bit ~ and the plane did not split as it was set down.

I would like to see pavement crack under a hero when they have a car dropped on them and as you said they are not using thier flight powers.

...but it's Hollywood.

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02 Dec 2009 13:53 #17641 by jdrock24
Replied by jdrock24 on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
I never took a Physics class and science never really interested me. Granted, I'm glad there are people who develop and invent interesting things through science and engineering but that's just not me.

Saying that, I don't really care about the physics involved in superhero actions because I never really think about it. I guess it's that whole "suspension of reality" thing going.

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03 Dec 2009 05:17 #17650 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
I think physics and plausibility are vital to a story being interesting. That doesn't mean we can't speculate on future advances, or like I do, by presuming that there were alien creatures with interesting traits, gained through natural selection, that were infused into human DNA to create chimeras, ala Velorians.

For instance, the heat vision genes come from a flightless bird on some distant world that developed the ability to turn the rods inside their eyes into tiny lasers to disable their prey with a heated stare. Once that unique genetic trait was injected into humans, and combined with Velorian's orgone energy flows and relative invulnerability (traits borrowed bit by bit from other species), it became strong enough to be dangerous.

Could creatures on alien planets develop individual genetic traits that are different than anything known to humans? Sure, why not.

Could an advanced race of genetic engineers extract those genes and bond many different traits into the foundation of a human DNA helix? Sure, why not.

We're already making chimeras in the labs here on Earth, although we aren't tweaking humans. Frogs that glow in the dark. Weird stuff.

Imagine what a really advanced but ancient spacefaring race could do if they'd been collecting genetic samples from the creatures of thousands of worlds for the last ten million years. Then they find humans, who are very adaptable and quick learning and reproduce quickly (expendable but very smart monkeys) to be used as warriors or procreators or whatever, and they reach into the library of really bizarre genetics and create a superhuman chimera.

No breaking the laws of physics here. Nobody said these aliens traveled faster than the speed of light. Although I do speculate that they travel though wormholes to get from one place to another.

Shadar

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03 Dec 2009 16:57 #17651 by yaracyrrah
Replied by yaracyrrah on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
"Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced."
--Gehm's Corollary

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03 Dec 2009 17:35 #17652 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
Except we no longer believe in magic, so now it has to be speculative science.

Shadar

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07 Dec 2009 18:40 #17675 by The Highlander
Replied by The Highlander on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
To respond to some of the comments so far, there’s an axiom of fiction writing I’ve heard which says ‘ Ask the reader to believe the impossible but not the improbable’. Nearly all the superwoman stories I’ve read are set in the ‘real’ world, which means to me that the normal laws of physics apply unless something tells me otherwise. I’m not particularly bothered by the details of how a power many work (though if it’s explained, all the better), just what is can do.

To go back to my original example, if it had been mentioned earlier that the Superwoman involved had some sort of power that would enable her to anchor herself in place (such as flight) then that would be enough for me. Subconsciously I can go ‘She using her flight power to stop her moving, that makes sense.’ The illusion of reality is complete. On the other hand, if I see something that is completely contrarily to normal physics without any sort of explanation for it then it brakes the illusion and spoils the whole story.

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07 Dec 2009 19:48 #17676 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
The place that I struggle, even if you assume she has the power of flight, is how even that could counteract the inertia of something like a railroad locomotive.

Classic case was Hancock stopping that train in the movie of the same name (would have been so much cooler if Charlize had done it!) The instantaneous force would have been astronomical, even for a Superman-type character.

On the other hand, the fact that he was embedded deeply into the front of the engine and the rest of the cars were derailing for a mile behind it was cool.

But, in reality, I see our heroine digging her feet into the track bed, shattering hundreds of railroad ties in a blaze of flame from the friction as her body tears through the front of the engine, bending the frame and crushing the massive diesel engine inward until it explodes, and finally wrestling the massive train to a dead stop in about the length of a couple of city blocks, with all the cars derailing and jackknifing behind the shattered engine. Now that she's got a good grip on the core of the engine (its bent around her body), she could leap upward and fly the burning engine far enough out to sea or over a lake to drop it safely (once she tore herself free of it). That would still be plenty dramatic, and a bit more plausible.

Same goes for lifting heavy objects... even if her strength is nearly unlimited, no material is strong enough to handle the pressures once an object gets too heavy. Her fingers would sink into solid steel beams as if they were putty once the pressures and forces go high enough. Squeezing it harder to hang on would simply make it squish. Using her body or arms and legs to increase the contact area would help somewhat, but at some point, steel simply can't handle the strain.

And we are assuming our favorite heroines are a LOT stronger than mere steel... right?

Also, grabbing aircraft in flight is a classic case... their structure is buried and the skin is very weak, so the plane would tear apart if someone tried to grab it. She'd have to tear through the skin and find the wing spars and grab them, but even that's tricky. Some of the later Supergirl girl comics where she mistakenly rips the wings off while handling a big airliner are more realistic. Even more so if the plane tore apart and many people were killed as it fell in sections, with her only being able to save the people in one section. (How to choose... First Class or Coach... if she was smart, she'd go for the section over the wings, which is strongest.)

Shadar

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08 Dec 2009 19:55 #17678 by compy
Replied by compy on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
Shadar, see here a real train crash test against indestructible container.



Imagine it against an immovible object, you got the idea of the result and the devastation of a train as long as in Hancock...

But I'm likee lfan, ingeneer, but I don't care of realistic laws of physics.
Flight is so cool !

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18 Dec 2009 20:13 #17763 by JKIJ
Replied by JKIJ on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
To me, the answer is real physics matter to an extent, though not an extent I could articulate. When I read something and my reaction is "That makes no sense" things have gone too far for me to suspend my disbelief. Once that threshold is crossed, things can really start to bug me.

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05 Sep 2010 23:13 #20225 by sidd1333
Replied by sidd1333 on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
Literature and movies are more touching when one can say 'This could be a real story'. Horror films about something that seems more fictional, like zombies or vampires, are in some sense not as impressive as those about something real, like asteroids or maniac killers, so that you walk out there in a street and think that THIS could really happen to you.
It is a bit funny to say 'I want a bulletproof girl story of the kind that I would believe it's true' cause a bulletproof girl's more like zombies or vampires then an asteroid. But the rest of the story being truth-like makes it more realistic, as a supergirl surrounded by the world where all the physics works is real too. It might give us some crazy hope that one day we would see a real supergirl, be it a battle gynoid or an extraterrestrial resident, because robotics is real, and who would say that alien races surely do not exist?

Speaking more specifically, what I want to be most real is how impulse of the objects hitting a girl affect her. If she has a mass of an average girl, she would bounce around like a ping-pong ball shot by a machine gun. Even if she's superstrong, she'd have to always think of a point to apply her force to (as Shadar has mentioned that about stopping a train). She won't easily open a metal door in a place with slippery floor no matter how strong she is.
To bounce off heavy bullets not flying away she'd have to weight at least a few tones. So no walking on stairs, no swimming, no airplanes. No high heels and probably no footwear at all.
Some authors proposed that she can have some crazy true mass, say a 1000 tones, and is constantly applying her flying ability so that it seems as if she's just walking. This makes bullets and projectiles bounce off like we want them to and gives her way to apply force. And this variant appeals to me, but it means she has a fantastic ability to calculate how to deceive everybody not uncovering her real physics (imagine what it is to follow shakes of a flying air jet passing air pockets), to distinguish between being carried by a car (when she was to follow it) and being hit by a bullet (when she has to bounce it off). And she does it permanently. Even if her super brain is capable of that (why not), imagine what happens when she looses control of that. Or doesn't she stop thinking when she orgasms? I like sensitive girls which is not very compatible with the idea of constant mind control of 'does my position look real'. The only decision is to think that for some reason she has very developed reflexes that make her always control that unconsciously.
What's for the force field, probably it'd work but for some reason I don't like it much.
And I wonder how can she be invulnerable to anti-matter. In this case force fields might be the decision. Or may be we'd have to invent some other form of matter besides atoms (like in Lem's novel 'Solaris')

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06 Sep 2010 00:20 #20226 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
You made a lot of points and posed a number of questions, one of which I've given some recent thought to as part of a story -- anti-matter weapons.

Clearly, anti-matter would react with the atoms of a superwoman's skin no matter how invulnerable she is, given she's made of positive matter.

But... that can't really happen.

As i see it, you simply can't shoot anti-matter at someone (except in a vacuum) because it would react with the air, causing a nuclear-grade reaction that would certainly make it hard to aim and to shoot any distance. The further the anti-matter traveled, the more it would react. (But the fireworks would sure be impressive).

Even in space, the vacuum isn't perfect (a few dust particles per cubic meter) and that would cause brilliant and powerful reactions that would make targeting and long-range shooting very difficult.

The only way I can see would be to use a large amount of anti-matter surrounded by a small mass of normal matter (which creates the containment field) and then fire it at very high velocity against an invulnerable target. The "shell" would shatter on impact, and might allow for a portion of the anti-matter to remain intact until it touched their skin. But the amount of energy released from annihilation before that even happens (inside the collapsing shell) would be staggering, creating an intense overpressure wave that would blow things in every direction -- so I'm not sure if even that would work.

A point of example... one of the weapons in a few of my stories is the Mot'zendel, a tiny (only slightly larger than a large chicken egg) anti-matter grenade. It's an alien weapon that uses a super-powerful battery to maintain very high currents through a spherical room-temperature superconductor that creates a magnetic field to contain the anti-matter. When the current is interrupted, the field collapses and the anti-matter reacts with the dense structure of the (positive atoms of the) magnet to completely react in fractions of a micro-second, long before it even bursts the outer shell of the weapon.

You get a very small, very powerful (nuke-grade) grenade that's also very clean. No anti-matter would escape confinement, only the resulting energy of its annihilation. (Just don't let the batteries run down while you've got one in your pocket... the yield is sufficient to dig a fifty-foot wide crater, and the blast would flatten a small town).

In summary, it would be very difficult to get anti-matter to actually contact the flesh of a target's skin. So we can safely utilize such weapons in our stories and still have our heroines and villains largely immune to them, assuming they can withstand the heat and overpressure waves.

Which makes the Velorian technique called Or'la possible. Or'la is an emergency combat technique that Protectors are extensively trained to perform. Or'la effectively redirects the blast of such a weapon to save the lives of ordinary humans who are in the blast zone -- a technique only an invulnerable female is capable of. (I'll leave the X-rated details of why only invulnerable and super-strong females can perform Or'la to your very fertile imaginations.)

In any case, Or'la is a disputed part of my attempt to maintain a pseudo-scientific basis of "believable physics". Not everyone believes that anti-matter could (or should) be contained in such a way.

Am I off the reservation with this, so to speak?

Shadar

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06 Sep 2010 01:45 #20227 by sidd1333
Replied by sidd1333 on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
Cool 8) I mean you really consider that in detail!

But let's leave the Earth. Imagine she wants to go to anti-matter parts of the universe. Just for fun. To feel her clothes explode on her.. whatever. I want her to be durable for that. How could that be?
Well, maybe her body has to be some kind of a solidified energy? (Yeah, I know, any kind of matter can be considered an embodied energy, thx to Einstein. But maybe she's a different matter?)

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06 Sep 2010 02:03 #20228 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Are ‘Real’ physics important?
That gets a little farfetched for me... I see ubergirls as being made of flesh and blood, but very tough stuff, and or surrounded by a cellular level forcefield. They can be hurt, but not easily, and can only exist in a positive universe.

But then, everyone has different ideas, and they're all good.

Shdar

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