(Not so) friendly neighbourhood superheroes

Posted by ap507 at Nov 10, 2014 10:19 AM |
Physics students calculate that being saved by The Flash could cause more damage to civilians than the bad guys would based on real-world physics
(Not so) friendly neighbourhood superheroes

© Wikipedia; Barry Allen, 'The Flash', returns to the DC Universe, fleeing from the Black Racer. Art from Final Crisis #2 by J. G. Jones

Superheroes seem to spend their days dropping everything at a moment's notice in order to help unsuspecting victims of street crime in vastly populated urban environments.

After examining a scene from the trailer for the new superhero TV show The Flash, students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy wished to see if the heroism of Barry Allen, the eponymous Flash himself, would actually pay off in the real world where regular physics apply.

They calculated that after taking into account the distance travelled, the mass of both the hero and the taxi he’s running towards, and the pressure imparted by both collisions with the pedestrian, that it may have been better if he had been taking a day off during the incident, with the study suggesting that in real life the cyclist would have been more injured by his exploits than the taxi.

The students suggest that The Flash could improve his success rate in saving people if he lowered the speed at which he made contact with the taxi or if he increased the area over which he made contact with the cyclist, which would also lower the pressure and likelihood of injury.

The paper, “The Flash: Hero or Villain?", was presented in the Journal of Physics Special Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. The student-run journal is designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers.

View the trailer for The Flash the paper is based upon below: