Book of Joe has an interesting link about a college course called The Science of Superheroes. If you are too lazy to click over to his blog here is a short excerpt that I grabbed.
“In lessons that cover Aquaman to X-Men, Dennin’s 14 students learned to distinguish science fiction from science fact.
Science fantasy: Gamma rays turned 98-pound weakling Bruce Banner into a raging green giant called the Incredible Hulk.
Science reality: Intense gamma radiation would have killed Banner. However, Hulkification could be achieved with anabolic steroids and DNA from a jellyfish.
Students also considered the feasibility of Superman and the Flash traveling faster than the speed of light. Most scientists say such a feat would violate the laws of physics. Others theorize that traveling faster than light could reverse time.
Another lesson examined the gadgets on Bruce Wayne’s bat belt, such as a miniature telephone and torch and knockout-gas capsules. Many of the devices that seemed farfetched when Batman was created decades ago are now available.Students also scrutinized Superman’s home planet, Krypton. According to comic-book lore, gravity on Krypton was so much stronger than Earth’s that Clark Kent had superhuman strength here. But in real life, gravity that strong would prevent a rocket from escaping a planet’s atmosphere.
Dennin, 39, a UCI physics professor, said the goal of the seminar is to use pop culture as a hook to introduce such concepts as black holes, cloning, life on other planets, quantum mechanics and Newtonian physics.
“Many students have a fear of science,” Dennin said, “but if they come at it from a different angle, they sometimes find out they’re interested in the subject and take more classes.”
I have comments about a number of things, but I’ll limit it to one for now. The story says that the class contends that a rocket ship could not have escaped Krypton’s gravity field. My issue is this, Krypton was a planet in which the civilization was highly advanced. Maybe an Earth made rocket ship would have problems, but a Kryptonian is a different animal altogether. Ha hah!