Okay, You’ve Got Super Powers. Now What?

No Smoking areas are a pain in the ass for her.
No Smoking areas are a pain in the ass for her.

Admit it. If you were a guy who went through puberty there was that one night, when no one was around, when you thought “Gee, I wish I could turn invisible. I’d freaking live in the girl’s locker room.” Or maybe you thought “If I had super strength I’d show that bully Tommy Thompson a thing or three.” I don’t know what pubescent girls dream of, I’ve never been one. Maybe that would be a cool super power. Change into anyone at any time, ala Mystique, but with the ability to truly feel what that person feels. I’m not sure if that would be enlightening or would drive me completely insane. What if, in your time as a teenage girl, you suddenly discovered that you really, REALLY, like teenage boys? What does that revelation do to you when you become a man again? Because, let’s face it, once the ‘WOW’ factor of your new powers wears off you have to live with this shit. You have to worry that the next time you pass gas you might kill someone. Which brings me to a question I’ve had for years; “Does Superman fart?”

I bet you never asked that. Which is why I have this cool gig and you don’t. I ask the serious questions.

But, I’m not the only one. Alex Billington, over at First Showing, reports that those super cool, wildly superficial, people who put on those TED talks, pondered the same thing.

What if? Always a fun question. What if Superman were real? What if Tony Stark existed? We’re big fans ofTED Talks anyway, but TED Ed recently featured an excellent six-part video series that ponders: “what if superpowers were real?” It’s not just a cheesy investigation into capes, the videos actually delve into the real world implications of superhuman abilities, ranging from invincibility to immortality to super strength and speed. The segments were put together by Joy Lin, an educator from Texas, with voiceover by James Arnold Taylor explaining the “scientific and logical fallacies inherent to six highly desired superpowers.”

These “what if” segments are not only fun and extremely fascinating, but considerably educational as well. The videos come from the TED Blog (tip via @SdGeek). They really make you think about us and this world. Here are all seven videos, including the intro and one for each of the different powers they investigate.

Joy Lin’s Introduction:


Body Mass:



Super Strength:

Super Speed:

Many of these seem to end up at the same conclusion: having these powers might not be so great after all. Then again, who wouldn’t want to have them anyway? These powers may originally be rooted in comics, but the ideas and concepts have been explored as thoroughly in cinema, especially recently (e.g. Man of Steel).

For the “full lessons” visit TED Ed. My favorite video is probably the flight one, because of the way it shoots down all hope for awesomeness with sound arguments. “Disclaimer: Due to time constraints, not all aspects of each superpower can be discussed and the science is sometimes simplified or generalized. We recognize this series is only the tip of the iceberg, not the final say in the continuous discussion of superpowers and scientific advancements. All we aim to achieve is inspiring young minds to ponder, discuss, and discover science through a glimpse into the world of superheroes.” The videos were animated by Cognitive Media.

So, let’s recap.

(1) Immortality. Unless you have other powers with it, like the power to heal, every scar you earn would be with you forever and odds are you’d forget the people you once loved. The fan film BATMAN VERSUS DEADPOOL actually does a good job of considering that so feel free to click the link and have fun.

(2) Body Mass. Okay, so you can grow big or small at will. As the video points out that’s a horrible power. Either you have 27 times your original weight (see Galileo’s square cube law for the reason why) or you’re this lightweight giant who’d get knocked down by a cool breeze. Neither sounds like fun.

(3) Flying. DAMN PHYSICS. You get to high you get too cold. And since there’s no resistance, like when you’re running, you’d move real slow. Basically you’d be a low hanging target that couldn’t get out of the way. So, that sucks.

(4) Invisibility. DOUBLE DAMN! So, in essence, since light can’t effect you then you can’t effect light which means you’d be blind and very vulnerable to getting hit by a car. Well, that’s a stupid power. I guess you’re safe from me ladies.

(5) Super Strength. Yeah, it would be nigh on impossible to eat and you’d kill everyone you touched, for the most part. Oh well, not nearly as useful as you’d have hoped.

(6) Super Speed. Oh, fuck. You either burn to death from the friction or get pelted to death by particles in the air. That doesn’t sound like fun. Even with the Flash’s super suit, his face would melt and his eyes would be gouged out from colliding with dust at the speed of sound.

Now, if you could mix and match those powers, minus the invisibility which is completely useless, you might be on to something. But it still seems like more trouble than it’s worth.

But I can’t leave you all depressed just because of reality. And I won’t. I’m not an asshole.

T. L. Stanley, our homie over at the L.A. Times, reports that bronies, those would be boys and young men who love My Little Pony – yes, that’s a thing, have figured out the real world physics of the little ponies. A fact which will be made worth your time in a moment.

Stephen Thomas, from Claremont, became something of a brony celebrity when he based his senior high school physics presentation on “MLP” last year. A video shot in the classroom and posted online quickly went viral; it has racked up nearly 1 million views. Thomas, now at Cal Poly Pomona, said he’d been concerned initially about reaction from his schoolmates. “I wondered if I’d be a laughingstock for admitting how much I liked the show,” he said. “But people didn’t think it was silly or dumb.”

Neither did his teacher. He got a perfect score by doing mathematical calculations to prove why it’d be impossible in the real world for ponies like Rainbow Dash and Applejack to defy gravity and break the sound barrier as they do on the series.

Here’s A LINK to Stephen’s video presentation. If you’re a math geek then this is 10 minutes of your life you’ll never want back.

Now, why do you care about this? Because Stephen’s video went viral, as the hip kids say, and caught the attention of some gamers who took all the math that Stephen did, applied it to the universe that comic book characters live in and then asked the same question you’ve been asking since you read about this.

What would happen if Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony had a Death Match with Starscream from the Decpticons?

Don’t lie to me, that is too the question you were asking.

And fortunately for you, there is an answer so you don’t have to drive yourself insane. Brad Singer and Chad James, beieve it or not ladies these two guys still single, not only spent weeks in a basement which belonged to one of their mom’s, they created a video that shows every aspect of the possible confrontation and explains the basic physics behind the Death Battle.

That would be the video below this sentence.

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