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    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2009
    So this is a bit of a strange one - I'm developing this science show based on the premise of defeating superheroes. The idea is that we look at a superhero, figure out what side effects their power must have, and use that a way to talk about some basic science with them (along with some nice science demos being thrown in there). After we've talked about it, we then use this new knowledge to defeat said superhero. I've already done it with a few, but I need help with this one.

    Byt the way, I agree I may be thinking way too hard about something that someone just made up, but it's a good, fun way into giving kids a better understanding of some science, which can't be too bad a thing.

    So, with this in mind I was thinking about The Flash. So, he runs really fast - which means there should be a huge amount of friction between him and the air. The fact that he doesn't *burst into flames* means that he either has a skin (or, rather aura extending a few cm out, since his clothes don't burn up) with zero friction - which can't be the case because his feet can gain friction on the ground, and he can hold things; or he just has a very high Specific Heat Capacity (this is, for the non-physics students among us, the amount of energy it takes to raise an object's temperature)

    So, looks like the Flash must have a high SHC (which is also good for me, cos there's a neat demo you can do where you hold a water balloon filled with water over a candle and it doesn't burst - showing how the water absorbs heat due to a high SHC, thus protecting the balloon) (although, come to think of it, that might be how his costume stays safe - his costume is the balloon, and he's the water - so we don't need the "aura" idea) (but anyway). But what I'm trying to do is somehow use this piece of science which the audience has now learned to devise a way to defeat him.

    So how can you use the Flash's high Specific Heat Capacity against him, anyone?

    I've been turning this one over in my head all day, and I thought that this might be the correct collection of evil-scientist types to pose the question to...
  1.  (5851.2)
    - I reckon his high SHC comes from his asbestos shoes. If he has some kind of foot fetish you just wait until he's done huffing that...
  2.  (5851.3)
    I assume the SHC means it's also more difficult to freeze him? I know zilch about physics, and only a bit about chemistry, I'm afraid.

    But Wikipedia is a friend, so let's take a look at the Flash's ability to vibrate his own molecules, which is the presumed source of his high SHC. It looks like you'd want a bit of judo -- specifically, would it be possible to amplify the amount of heat such that in order to operate at high-speeds in such an environment -- say, a heat ray, he's maxing out his vibrational capabilities, and then fine-tune the heat higher or lower to complement the vibration he's using? Something comparable to soldiers marching in unison along a bridge, can you effectively shock the configuration of the degrees of freedom at the right frequency?

    You'd probably want a microwave, right?

    I would take this class in a heartbeat. And judging from the above word salad, I need to.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2009
    You should absolutely look up the book 'The Physics of Superheroes', it does go a bit deeper into it than you need, but it'll spark plenty of ideas.
    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2009 edited
    Freeze Him?

    No, wait, didn't that get tried?

    (edit --- jesus, I was genuinely trying to be helpful - in a simple way - but that just looked facetious ... sorry)
    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2009
    This may be waaay off, but I'm thinking something biological maybe. If it takes that much energy to raise his temperature, maybe a virus/bacteria that is only killed at high temperatures? Then maybe he'd die from the infection before his body could react with a fever to kill it. Sorry I can't give any examples to hand, might not even be possible. Or, along the same lines, give him something that causes a fever, and as it takes so much energy to raise his temperature to that level the metabolic stress of trying to do so leaves him exhausted?

    Great idea though, I hope it goes well for you.