Monday, March 23, 2009

The Physics of Superheroes & When Gwen Stacy Died

I checked out of the library a very geeky book - GF (Geek Factor) of 5. That's about the highest level I have found. Entitled The Physics of Superheroes, hoping it would help me decide key elements in my own Supers game.

The writer Kakalios is an actual physicist, and does not waste time explining how impossible the genre is scientifically - a foregone conclusion, obviously - but rather how much force or how certain actions a superhero might perform would happen in the real world.

For instance, for Superman to leap a tall building in a single bound, he must be able to launch himself at nearly 140 mph and overcome 15 times the gravity a normal human experiences. Strangely, that is within the realm of possibility. Furthermore, if Krypton does have 15 times the gravity of Earth, it stands to reason some part of a white dwarf (or other highly dense material) is at Krypton's core, since the entire planet being 15 times denser molecularly would cause her collapse prematurely. This element in her core would cause instability, quakes and eventually, total destruction.

Not too shabby a science fiction tale for two boys from Cleveland - they imagined it right!

Spider-man kills the very person he's trying to save.Also in this book, the author tackles one of the great tragedies of the Marvel universe: the death of Gwen Stacy.

All the evidence is in the panels. The physics are there. Spider-man, in his quick action, superb reflexes and passionate eagerness to save his true love, makes a catastrophic mistake.

He stops the fall of Gwen Stacy too quickly - and the shock snaps her neck.

He kills her while trying to save her.

The Green Goblin's boast that the "A fall from that height would kill anyone —before they struck the ground!" doesn't hold water, says Kakalios. If that were true, skydivers have been strangely surviving for years... One wonders if the villain couldn't stand the thought he was NOT responsible for her demise - or the writer did not want Spider-man alone to bear the guilt.

What makes it so tragic is the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" aspect. There's no way Gwen would've lived without being saved (hitting water from that height would be like hitting concrete) but Spidey did it wrong - and even more tragically - was exulting in his powers, his abilities to save her - even as he lifts her lifeless body up to find he has failed utterly.

It is the most hear-wrenching issue in the entire run of Spider-man, IMHO.

I have to go.

But learn from Spider-man, heroes: Don't stop the fall of the one you love too quickly. You may kill the very person you wanted to save.

From My Utmost for His Highest, March 24, by Oswald Chambers:

Decreasing for His Purpose
He must increase, but I must decrease —John 3:30

If you become a necessity to someone else’s life, you are out of God’s will...

Over and over again, we try to be amateur providences in someone’s life. We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying, "This person should not have to experience this difficulty." Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, our sympathy gets in the way. One day that person will say to us, "You are a thief; you stole my desire to follow Jesus, and because of you I lost sight of Him"...

You may often have to watch Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it (see Matthew 10:34).

When we work for Christ, we must make sure we work FOR Him. Only He can save the soul and only He is the surgeon wise enough to cut only as needed, to move only when required.

If you are in ministry or have someone you know and care about who does not know Christ, be very patient. The Lord has perfect timing.

He knows when, where and how to save them.

Amen.

1 comment:

james said...

If you like this book, here's a link to the author's Q&A blog from the Science Museum of Minnesota: http://www.smm.org/buzz/museum/ask/kakalios

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