By David Galens

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The source of Superman’s powers on Earth was credited in the Golden Age to his Kryptonian heritage, specifically the fact that his home planet had a far stronger gravity than Earth’s. For example, the moon’s much smaller size compared with Earth results in a weaker gravitational field, so objects on the moon weigh less than they do on Earth. Consequently, an Earthman, whose muscles and bones are adapted to Earth’s gravity, is able to lift moon cars overhead and leap moon buildings in a single bound.

If you are comfortable with ½ + ½ = 1, then writing it as 2 × (½) == 1 (that is, two multiplied by one half) should cause no concern, because obviously two halves equal one. ). As many students have long suspected, there is a trick to algebra, and the trick is the following: If one has an equation describing a true statement, such as 1 = 1, then one can add, subtract, multiply, or divide (excepting division by zero) the equation by any number we wish, and as long as we do it to both the left and right sides of the equation, the correctness of the equation is unchanged.

But when they are instead introduced to the physics of superheroes, this complaint never arises! One might initially wonder whether Superman might seem more real to students than pulleys, ropes, and inclined planes. But the real reason students don’t complain is undoubtedly that the comic-book examples are fun, while inclined planes aren’t. And that is perhaps one of the most useful reasons for thinking about the physics of superheroes. Not only can you imagine, and be introduced to, lots of interesting physics, from everyday phenomena to esoteric modern subjects, but it is actually fun to think about.

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