Author and physics professor James Kakalios swoops into McGill to talk about Superman, Spider-Man and the laws of thermodynamics
The Physics Department of McGill University is heroically proud to host The Uncanny Physics of Superhero Comic Books, a talk by Dr. James Kakalios, professor at the School of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Minnesota, and author of the bestselling non-fiction book The Physics of Superheroes (Gotham Books, 2006).
Kakalios has fused his academic expertise with his passion for the superhuman exploits of characters like Spider-Man, the Flash, Superman and the X-Men to illustrate principles like the conservation of energy and the three laws of thermodynamics.
Professor Kakalios will swoop into McGill and hit his audience with a laser blast of four-colour physics facts starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9. Admission is free. Location: McGill's Macdonald-Harrington Building, Room G10, 815 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec.
In the amazing world of superheroes, it's uncanny how often comics get their science right (radioactive spiders and heroes the size of ants aside). Dr. Kakalios began using examples from comics to teach physics to his students in 2001 and soon discovered that many of the comics from his youth made good use of real-world scientific theories, once readers got past the unlikelihood of alien power rings or nuclear explosions turning meek physicists into destructive green monsters. In fact, he addresses science questions that have bedeviled comic book fans for decades, including:
- If Superman can leap tall buildings in a single bound, what was the gravity on his home planet Krypton like?
- Does the Fantastic Four's Invisible Woman go blind when she becomes transparent, since light passes through her and her invisible eyes?
- How fast would the Flash need to be going to run across a body of water without sinking?