Yesterday, we discussed going “out of phase” and falling to a horrible doom at the centre of the Earth.

Today, I want to talk about superpowers.

I have often seen Superman catch falling people mere inches from the ground.  At that height there isn’t enough space for him to absorb the kinetic energy without killing them. I’m not the only one to notice this:  Ben Tippet’s Unified Theory of Superman also mentions the problem, in addition to being a pretty entertaining read.

Now, there are ways of getting around the problem.  If Superman’s invulnerability extends a few inches from his body, then anyone he catches would be automatically protected from the damage of a sudden stop.  This has the added advantage that it protects his clothes, explaining why they don’t burn off during fiery rescues.

But wait, you say.  What about when he punches people?  Wouldn’t they be protected from damage too?

Yes, they would.  But only in the instant of the punch – they have no protection from being thrown into a wall, and it is that which causes them harm.

As you can see, some scientific problems can be worked around with the suitable application of other science.*  All it requires is a little creative thinking – and that’s what we all claim to be good at, right?


* Whistles innocently and hopes nobody noticed that auras of invulnerability extending a few inches from the body aren’t actually very scientific.