A Physicist Contemplates the Possibilities of Superman’s Powers

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  • When Superman was first created by Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel, he was only strong enough to lift a car over his head, he could leap long distances but couldn’t fly, and his skin wasn’t impenetrable. These facts were easy to explain away: Krypton, his home planet, had much higher gravity, a fact that had made his muscles much stronger for when he landed on Earth. But eventually he gained a slew of new powers, from the ability to fly to the strength to lift entire continents. It was at this point the explanation for his powers shifted: He wasn’t powered by Earth’s weaker gravity, but rather from our yellow sun. James Kakalios, a physicist and author of the book The Physics of Super Heroes, takes a stab at explaining how it might be possible for a Superman-like being to exist.

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