The gallery has two new pieces, one by At Arm’s Length artist Brooke Scovil, and one by Talon Foxtrot.
I probably should go back and tweak the ‘nuclear’ dialogue. Any armchair physicists want to help out?
havent you been reading about the cat girls!? are you that heartless!?
Well, as an armchair physicist… (read: physics grad without a job)
The big problem in the dialogue here is conservation of energy. “Energy cannot be created or destroyed” is describing this principle, and nuclear physics (or any other reaction known) does NOT violate this universal principle. In a nuclear reaction, mass is converted to energy, as described by Einstein’s famous E=mc^2 equation, where the mass lost in a nuclear reaction is released as energy, typically EM radiation. However, nowhere in this process is energy created “from nothing”
Not to mention that at least one of those cat girls is of your own creation…
Oh! Oh! Me! I’ll help! I know enough to keep most cursory explanations sound or at least plasuibly deniable.
Jobless grad: Thanks! That what I was trying to get at, I just phrased it poorly. Is it still correct to call it, ‘nuclear’? Superheroes don’t have U-235 in their bodies here, but they are converting mass to energy.
Oh, we’re helping out publicly. (For some reason I keep seeing comments appear out of nowhere and *before* comments I’ve read.)
“Armchair physics” is right, the energy is coming from a pre-existing form. Nuclear reactions do not create energy, they merely release more per pound than a chemical reaction would. This energy already existed as potential energy in molecular/atomic bonds.
If I personally had to go for a method for superpowers, I would go with matter/antimatter reactions. The problem with nuclear reactions as an explanation is that they are inefficient, leaving behind new isotopes. Sort of how a car leaves behind exhaust. Matter/antimatter, on the other hand, turns both matter and antimatter into pure energy, meaning that you don’t have to explain where all the byproducts are going.
Though I guess in *theory* if you wanted to stick with nuclear, thee hydrogen from the water in their bodies (as well as the oxygen if you really wanted to) COULD be fused into heavier elements such as carbon that also naturally occour in the human body. (Actually, if you want to eliminate the oxygen you’ll have to go for something like iron, as carbon is lighter than oxygen, so you can’t get it from a fusion reaction with oxygen.)
And of course you could just use the gravity argument in reverse, IE: Since scientests suspect that gravity is so weak because most of our gravitons disappear into the tiny extra dimensions in our universe, maybe superheros draw on energy that is likewise hidden in these microdimension…
And we haven’t even hit on non-electromagnetic interactions with dark matter!
The comments so far are quite correct that the line “with the exception of a nuclear reaction” is the real sore thumb. You could almost just get away with deleting it and leaving the other dialogue intact.
The problem though is that makes it a bit rough suddenly jumping into “The source of a super hero’s power is nuclear!”. I’d probably write something like “Given the amount of energy is beyond that which could be chemically stored, the source of a super hero’s power must be nuclear!”
As to whether it should be “nuclear” or “subatomic” and the actual means of energy storage/extraction, I’d personally say nuclear. Specifically nuclear fusion, similar to what the sun does (combine small atoms into larger ones). Presumably heroes still only have the food they eat and the air they breath to partially convert to energy, and both of those contain only small atoms (food being mostly hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, all of which will release energy when fused into larger atoms). It clearly can’t be nuclear fission, as you say they don’t have any uranium or other heavy elements in them. Matter-antimatter has a similar problem: where did the antimatter come from?
But you don’t really need to be that specific when giving a science explanation. Just avoid the blatently wrong and leave it vague enough that fans who choose to can come up with something plausible, and get back to the plot and character development.
too many big words….*gasp* i have to check on the girls!!
The girls are good on my end, though I’m almost out of goats…
@bakaneko: Proper preparation prevents poor performance.
(Also, what a coincidence, I was just looking at that video like a minute ago lol.)
Well antimatter is just matter with inverted charge and spin. So being able to flip the charge of some particles would be just as plausible as being able to randomly commit them to fusion reactions.
Uou cannot just “flip” the charge on particles – charge is conserved just as energy is. As is (for the most part) Lepton and Baryon numbers, making sudden conversion from matter to antimatter impossible.
The reason I suggested some sort of fusion reaction is because it is at least energetically feasible with what is available. The only problem is a high activation barrier in currently known reactions. However this is a lot less of a problem than an outright violation of multiple conservation laws.
Forgot about that, and I’d argue the relative difficulty of defying the conservation laws versus the high activation energy. Both ways we’re trying to find a source/sink for something we need to change.
However, browsing around, perhaps the sea of dirac works? The vacuum energy principle, while generally accepted as not allowing free energy, is not sufficiently understood to disbar it. It would provide a nice squaky clean way to get energy for free for our superheros.
Plus, being run on vacuum energy just sounds cool.
The relative difficulty of the two is easy to quantify: One is outright impossible, the other is thermodynamically plausible but severely limited in rate in currently known reactions. What we’d really like is the nuclear analogue of a catalyst. Note there actually is a known catalyst for fusion reactions – replacing the electrons with their heavy analogue the muon, but this wouldn’t do as we’d need a source for muons. But as we are apparently inventing a new ficticious reaction anyway it would seem the lesser of two evils…
Re the other possibilties:
I would not touch sea of dirac with a barge poll, as it is based on the appearance of the infamous “negative energy states” in the dirac equation. They have since been reinterpreted as positive energy antiparticles, which just happen to travel backwards in proper time.
Ultimately the above exchange illustrates why (as I originally said) the description should be kept vague. You cant pin down a proper explanation, as any fully applicable explanation would already be in use as an ultimate energy soruce now. Better just to leave it as some mysterious “nuclear” reaction that they have just discovered. And get back to the plot.
@Stranger: The issue under discussion is that, for example, having the strength of 10 men like Spins does means that you need to expend 10 times as many calories of energy using it. This is required to maintain conservation of energy. So this whole nuclar discussion is where this extra “energy” comes from.
@Herring: If such a flipping of charge were impossible by conservation of charge, then production of any antimatter would be impossible, as all we have are matter particles. If you’re going to casually dismiss me, at least do it right.
Addendum: I’ll concede that the sea of dirac was an ass pull on my part.
Basically Super Heroes can convert food into a type of energy equivalent to nuclear energy?? If that’s the case then how will that explain on what kind of power they will possess?? If they all have the same kind of reaction within their bodies won’t the result be the same on all of them??
@Cesium it’s actually impossible to know what anti-matter is made since… well it anti’s everything basically destroys, incinerates, kills, and makes everything it touches extinct or non-existing.
So if a Super Hero somehow possesses that kind of substance within him… I’d say he hasn’t been born or more like will never be born. >.<
Read and know. Because knowing is half the battle.
Will someone please think of the catgirls?
Nope. Also as a recent physics undergraduate, this entire conversation is made of SO much win. Especially’s herring’s explanations, so good to read.
Back to the topic, I agree with herring on this issue; keeping the science in this fiction vague is a very good idea, because if you don’t do some serious research the science can make the fiction disbelieving. Really though, my only gripe with the good doctor is that he considers the reaction to be nuclear without differentiating between nuclear fusion or nuclear fission. But declaring that the energy is nuclear sounds cooler than declaring it’s nuclear fusion, so I’m not sure if I would edit it.
Also, there is always the possibility that the theory that the doctor is working with could be mostly right but partially wrong, as pointed out by Xpacetrue further below. I would hypothesize that in the spinnyverse there could be a fifth fundamental force that mimics a nuclear fusion reaction in superheroes that gives them the ability to get more energy out than the energy put in, and maybe explain some of the magical elements in that world. Let’s call it the Aether, because Issac Newton. But theories are useless without some good, old-fashioned experimentation as the doctor clearly understands.
GLaDOS and turrets? So, I’m assuming the Ohio Research University is a branch of Aperture Science?
omg its the portal computer robots hes the one that made them !
he is evil!
OMG GLaDOS! And Eve!! And…the antagonist’s past. This’ll be intriguing.
Anyone played Portal 2 yet? Best Game EVER! Loved the personality cores/turrets in the comic it made my day! Keep being awesome!
And Greta doesn’t need a companion cube, she’s got companion globes!
Dr. U is actually quite cute.
I was just thinking that.
And has Syndrome’s hair-do…
I’d say it’s more Vegeta than Syndrome.
i just looked back. he has red hair.
It’s the power of the Mustache!… it makes everything cute in a manly way. ^^
something about the way he holds himself too. It’s cute on him. He’s kind of demure and shy.
Sorry busy looking at the bewbies… you two must be girls to say he is cute. I am looking at the greta lady. And the ad in the right of spinerette.
I spy with my little eyes Aperture Turrets, Corrupted Cores AND an EVA from Wall-E.
why does everyone keep calling her EVA? it is EVE. EVE stands for Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator. Walle just had a hard time pronouncing her name. oh two more things… its just tiger not black tiger and lastly stop killing the cat girls! Wolfen is almost out of goats! Miya-chan is getting ill!
Maybe b’coz that’s how Wall-E pronounces her name EE..VA. @-@
Just to put in my two cents worth on the whole “where do supers get their powers from?” bandwagon. I seem to remember coming across an article in Scientific American (?) where there was some debate as to how universal the laws of physics really are. Basically what was being proposed was that there is enough coherence LOCALLY to keep everything from flying apart, but that over a larger scale, there would be a certain amount of wiggle room.
Anyway, in the Spinerette universe, supers have an innate ability to tap into the wiggle room (have fun with the phrase), and tweak the local physics in specific ways, but not break the system. Sort of like, “There is no spoon…”, or “I think, therefore you are…”
Good point. How can we know with absolute certainty that the laws of science as we understand them are constant throughout the entire universe. As unlikely as it sounds, for all we know, things might work a bit differently over in the Andromeda Galaxy or even outside our Solar System. And if Spinnerette’s world is a different dimension or a parallel universe, who’s to say that everything works the same over there?
Indeed, I think many scientists have been blinded by the dogma of what has been established as leading theories and assumed fact to the point that they can’t conceptualize any other possible solution.
For example, here Dr. Verde points out how superheros can expend far more energy than can be explained by normal chemical-biological processes and claims that the ONLY possible explanation is that a NUCLEAR process is involved to convert matter to energy. That’s making quite a few assumptions, if you really think about it.
Without the evidence to back this claim up, the energy could be coming from an as-yet undiscovered process entirely separate from known nuclear reactions. Couldn’t it be something like tapping into ZPE (zero point energy) or even an as-yet-undiscovered type of energy, such as Chi or life-energy?
Yes, I am aware of Occam’s Razor and the concept of how extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But Occam’s Razor is just a tool and it does not mean that the unlikely is impossible. I think it’s far, FAR more unlikely that our current understanding of the Universe is 100% spot-on and infallible. We could be blind to many flaws in our equations and theories and not even know it. After all, our understanding of the world around us is different today than it was centuries, decades, or even 10 years ago.
I’ll chime in: pre-powers Greta is awesome.
U.N.Verde. At least it isn’t U.N.Ivers.
I guess Cerebus is really the three sisters Celine, Rebecca and Bunny Smith…
Same news reporter as at the start, editor must hand pick her for science stuff.
Nuclear IS one option, atomic another and matter/antimatter a third.
In his spare time he played Portal and thought ‘I can build that!’ Same with WALL-E.
I always suspected that most Supers who expended energy like that had to be tapping into some energy in the universe. Loved the dig at USA education. Blame the bureaucrats and a lousy system.
cherenkov isn’t a familiar term to me, but I’d guess kirby refers to jack?
Could the reaction name be in reference to Jack Kirby?
Are those personality spheres in the background? thats a rhetorical question, of course they are.
Cute researcher spotted!
Wa…wait a minute. He’s researching about energy? Energy that defeat entropy? OMG!! He’s working for Kyuubey!! Run MechaMaid, Heather and Sahira, run!!! And I anything ask you for a contract, say NO!!!!!
i like that lhe worked at aperture science
Not trying to sound bratty, but I learned the laws of thermodynamics in High School and Elementary (in the US).
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