The Science of Superheroes

  • by Lois Gresh, Robert Weinberg, introduction by Dean Koontz
  • Narrated by Oliver Wyman
  • 7 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

If the planet Krypton had a gravitational field strong enough to account for Superman's amazing strength, would it be possible to launch a rocket ship from the planet's surface? Assuming that the Flash could actually travel at the speed of light, would any villain ever stand a chance against him? Could evolution actually produce X-Men?The Science of Superheroes takes a lighthearted but clearheaded look at the real science behind some of the greatest superhero comic books of all time, including Spider-Man, Batman, the Fantastic Four, and many more. Each chapter presents the origin of one or more superheroes and asks intriguing questions that lead to fascinating discussions about the limits of science, the laws of nature, and the future of technology.If gamma rays can't turn a 128-pound weakling into the Incredible Hulk, what could? Are Spider-Man's powers really those of a spider? Could a person ever breathe water like a fish? From telepathy to teleportation, from cloning to cosmic rays, this vastly entertaining romp through the nexus of science and fantasy separates the possible from the plausible and the barely plausible from the utterly ridiculous.You'll discover the connection between black holes and green lanterns; what Galileo could have told Professor Pym about the stresses caused by shrinking and growing; and how many of Batman's "inventions" anticipated actual technological developments. You'll learn how comic book writers use "technobabble" to create seemingly credible explanations of improbable superpowers and bizarre events.The Science of Superheroes celebrates the ingenuity and imagination of the writers and artists behind the greatest superheroes, and offers helpful suggestions on how some characters' origin stories could be made more believable. It offers immensely enjoyable and informative listening for anyone who loves science, superheroes, or both.The Science of Superheroes is also available in print from Wiley.


What the Critics Say

"Weinberg and Gresh tell it like it is - and how it would be, if our favorite comic book characters actually existed. The Science of Superheroes is a fascinating and entertaining examination of everything from astrophysics to genetic biology to the evolution of the 'superhero.'" (Mark Powers, editor, X-Men and Uncanny X-Men)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

To much irrelvent information

This book simply has too much irrelevant information. It also can't seem to stay on topic. For example, in the chapter about The Flash, it talks about the anatomy of a cheetah. At first you think that's it's trying to make a point, but then it goes on never to mention the cheetah again. Also, the analysis of the powers wore sorely lacking. A good example of this was Superman. The only thing about Superman that it talks about is his super-strength. Although the analysis of his strength was good, it could've at least went into more depth about flying.

There are other examples of going off topic, such as the chapter on Green Lantern and X-Men. It briefly mentioned the validity of telepathy, but then went on to talk about evolution vs creation. In some cases, for 20 minutes it starts to make an argument which would prove some powers possible, then spends another 10 minutes proving it wrong (such as the case with Superman). There are also situations in which it openly refuses to talk about certain powers (Ex. Spiderman, Superman, X-Men).

Overall, I would not recommend this book, especially if you getting it for a certain hero, like I did. Although the actual science it provides is good in it's own respect, when talking about superheroes it's irrelevant.
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- Amazon Customer

Fun read

This is an interesting book and answers a number of questions that just aren't relevant when you're deep into comic book reading. It's a good step back from the fantasy world and provides intriguing explanations on how each superhero is able to do the things they do. I wish there were more analysis on other superheroes. Superman, Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Batman were either inadequate or just plain boring. Spiderman, Atom, and Submariner explanations were ok. Maybe the author will write a second version with analysis on characters from the Avenger, Xmen, Ironman, and DareDevil.

This first book is too long on the history of comic books and short on analysis of the superpowers. Hopefully version 2 (if it comes out) will jump directly into the analysis of each superhero's powers and analyze more Marvel characters.
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- LM

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-08-2002
  • Publisher: Random House Audio