SUPERMAN AND PHYSICS DON'T MIX
When we were tasked to criticize one superhero, I had just one name in mind: Superman. It is probably safe to say that Superman, among all the other superheroes, is the most popular. He has amazing superpowers such as super-strength which enables him to levitate heavy objects, super-speed which allows him to move and fly as fast as a bullet and super-invulnerability so that he never gets hurt, damaged or affected. However, these prodigious powers of his have probably gotten too implausible especially if we would consign to the laws of Physics, particularly the Laws of Impulse-Momentum. And so, from the viewpoint of a self-confessed fan of the concepts of Physics, let my “Superman Criticism” begin.
One of Superman’s most common maneuvers would be saving people who had fallen from tall places, say, a building or a tower. He would normally stand still in midair and catch the falling person before the unfortunate fellow hits the ground, thus, defying the concept of impulse. This seemingly heroic act, if done in real life, could actually kill a person. The sudden change in the person’s momentum would have enough force for a person to die! Simply put, I think the impact would be so great that it could break the bones of the person. To make the situation more realistic, Superman should catch the person with a follow-through, like Sir Bondz’ popular demonstration of catching an egg so that it would not break, or how rescue teams use giant mattresses or saggy sheets to save people caught in a tall building and have to jump. Doing this would lessen the impact on the person, giving him a better chance to survive.
In one Superman movie, he throws a continent into space. This is also unlikely, as per Andy Leifer, a physicist: “… by the conservation of momentum he(Superman) would significantly alter the Earth's orbit and may spiral the Earth into the sun…” I agree. Removing one of the Earth’s continents would surely...