Physicist Breaks Down The Science Of 10 Iconic Marvel Scenes

Physicist Breaks Down The Science Of 10 Iconic Marvel Scenes


You’ve been taking bullets, charging it up with kinetic energy. You turned off the artificial gravity everywhere but in here. It’s quantum entanglement between the quantum states of Posner
molecules in your brains. Do you guys just put the word quantum in front of everything? I gotta say, we do put the word “quantum” in front of everything. Hi, I’m Jim Kakalios. I’m a physics professor at
the University of Minnesota and the author of “The
Physics of Superheroes.” Woo, let’s go! That’s a scene from the first
“Guardians of the Galaxy” movie, and as they’re
making their jailbreak, Rocket turns off the artificial
gravity in the space station so that everyone else floats
and is unable to get their bearings, and they make their escape. I told you I had a plan. Say you’re in an elevator, and
in the worst-case scenario, the cables break, and
you start free falling. You’re no longer feeling
the effects of gravity. It’s as if you’re weightless. You could start doing
magic tricks to the other people in the elevator, say,
“Hey, look at this pipe” and let go of the pipe, and
it would just float there because it’s falling, you’re
falling all at the same rate. But if you’re already
standing on the floor, you’d stay standing on the floor. However, anyone who was
walking at the moment they were walking, they were
pressing their feet down on the ground and then
lifting their feet up. And at that moment, if the
gravity was turned off, they would have launched themselves up, and without gravity to slow their ascent, they would keep rising in that way. So the people who were stationary and started to float up, not so much. Anyone who was walking would
indeed start to float up. I’m not quite sure how
the artificial gravity is being generated in the space station, and the whole notion of artificial gravity that can be turned on and
off at will in generalized locations in the space
station, that’s a bit too far. Talking raccoons, that part’s OK. Huh? My undying fidelity. Jim: So Thanos has just acquired
the Space Infinity Stone, and as soon as he has
this, he’s able to stop Loki’s dagger thrust in midair. Undying, you should choose
your words more carefully. Well, there’s actually some
real physics behind this. Back in the beginning of the 20th century, Emmy Noether was able
to show a deep, intimate connection between space and momentum. Controlling the Space Stone not only allows you to teleport but apparently also gives you command over momentum. Loki’s dagger thrust is arrested, and all of the momentum is stopped. If you look closely around Loki’s arm, you see a little blue
glow that’s coming from the Space Stone that’s arresting
the momentum of his thrust. It’s worth noting that in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” the Space Stone, which was
embedded in the Tesseract at the time, is the only Infinity Stone that was actually
weaponized by Hydra and used to create force beams, thereby
showing that there is indeed a connection between space and momentum. The first “Iron Man” movie, 2008, the one that started the whole Marvel universe. I love it, Tony Stark,
the superhero as engineer and the engineer as superhero. When he built his first suit in a cave out of scraps, it was made of iron and was very heavy, about 150 pounds just counting the iron,
not counting the weaponry. Then he developed the Mark
II, which was titanium. Titanium is lighter than iron and strong. And then in order to
combat the icing problem, he used a gold-titanium alloy. Let’s connect to the
cisco, have it reconfigure the shell metals, use
the gold-titanium alloy from the Seraphim Tactical Satellite. That should ensure fuselage integrity while maintaining
power-to-weight ratio, got it? Now there are gold-titanium alloys. They tend to be very brittle.
They’re used in dental applications more than anything else. So unless he’s fighting
crime boss Gingivitis, I don’t think that he really would want to use a gold-titanium alloy. So much of the technology
except for the arc reactor are things that we
actually have right now. We have exoskeletons. We
have plating. We even have jet boots. The one thing we
don’t have is a power supply. He has an arc reactor
that’s about the size of a hockey puck and puts out the power of three nuclear power plants. If we knew how to do that,
we wouldn’t need superheroes because otherwise you’d
have an Iron Man suit, but you’d have to drag a long
extension cord behind you in order to have enough
power for the suit. One thing that’s realistic in this is that we never see him,
when he engages his boots or shoots a repulsor ray, we
never see him press a button or give a voice command. He
thinks it, and it happens. That’s because he has a cybernetic helmet that picks up his thought waves and sends the information to the suit. This is real. Scientists and engineers at
the University of Minnesota and at other universities and
institutions around the world are developing cybernetic helmets
that pick up the very weak radio waves that are generated
when we think, amplifying them, sending them via
Bluetooth to another device. They’re trying to develop
prosthetics and treat paralysis, but if you had asked me
as kid when I was reading “Iron Man” comics which
part in the 21st century would be the closest to reality, the last thing I would have
said was the cybernetic helmet. Why don’t you pick on
someone your own size? Ant-Man shrinking down to the size of an ant, even much smaller. When Ant-Man shrinks, he’s
also able to control his mass, and he shrinks at constant density, so he’s very lightweight. When he rides on an ant,
for example, he doesn’t smush the ant, but when he
wants to punch Yellowjacket, he’s able to increase his
mass so there’s more force, more momentum behind his punch. How does he do it? In the comics and in the
movie, via Pym particles that were discovered by Hank Pym. If they had just given a
little bit of lip service to how one changes the size of atoms. They say that they’re
changing the spacing between the atoms or the space in the atoms, no. The size of an atom is determined via quantum mechanics to
be the ratio of several fundamental constants:
charge of an electron, mass of an electron, Planck’s constant. If, via the Pym field, to
adjust, say, the magnitude of Planck’s constant,
make it 10 times smaller, then the atoms would
become 100 times smaller, and the size of an object
would shrink uniformly. If you make it 10 times
bigger, the size of the atoms would be 100 times bigger,
you could become Giant-Man. It’s Spider-Man. Oh, my God, this is it. Tell everyone to hang on. Oh yeah, I see that look in class a lot. So here, Peter Parker, Spider-Man, needs to stop a runaway elevated train. He shoots out multiple web lines, they stretch a great deal,
but they don’t break, and he’s able to stop the
train just in the nick of time. How strong does the webbing
have to be for this to work? We can look up the mass of a train. We can estimate its
initial velocity by seeing how long it takes to pass city blocks. We can look at the distance over which the webbing stretches. We
can estimate its diameter. We can count the number of web lines, and we come up with a tensile
strength for the webbing that has to be about 1,000 megapascals, which is equivalent to 145,000
pounds per square inch. But real spider silk has a tensile strength of 1,200 megapascals. If Spider-Man’s webbing
is anywhere as strong as real spider silk, then
this indeed could happen. He’s shooting it out of his
wrists, which is not what a real spider would do, but
we’ll just leave that aside. “Doctor Strange” is a
deviation from all the other Marvel movies, insofar as everything else in the Marvel Cinematic
Universe up till then had some sort of hand-wavy,
super-science-type explanation. But here they’re just
going for full-on magic. Stephen: This doesn’t make any sense. Ancient One: Not everything
does, not everything has to. Jim: The notion that there
are multiple dimensions is an idea that has been taken seriously
by at least some physicists. Ancient One: What if I told you the reality you know is one of many? Quantum mechanics is the branch of physics that describes the properties of atoms and how they interact with light. One aspect of quantum
mechanics that many scientists find troubling is that it
only deals with probabilities. So you can calculate the
probability of a measurement, giving the electron at a
certain location in space and time, but not exactly
where that electron will be. One alternative explanation
is that there are actually an infinite number of parallel universes. You find the electron in
one location, but in other universes, it might be at
some different location. So presumably, maybe
Doctor Strange is visiting some of these parallel
Earths that have undergone significant quantum
deviations from our own. As far as the science
there, even if they’re in a parallel Earth, the
fact that their antagonists are able to affect the
orientation of gravity locally, I’m sorry, that’s just magic. But he’s the master of the mystic arts, so I’ll give him a break. Now, I don’t know what
you plan on doing here. I’ve come here to put an
end to Loki’s schemes. Then prove it. Put that hammer down. Uh, yeah, no. Bad call. He loves his… You want me to put the hammer down? Thor puts the hammer down
on Captain America’s shield. In the movies, the shield
is made of pure vibranium, where in the comics it’s an
alloy of steel and vibranium. That’s actually more realistic. You want steel to provide
strength and rigidity so that when Captain America throws
his mighty shield, it will ricochet, but you want the
vibranium because it absorbs all vibrations, making it
the perfect shock absorber, as it’s absorbing Thor’s
hammer blow in this scene. It’s completely vibration-absorbent. Jim: Energy can’t be destroyed. It can only be converted to another form. The energy of the hammer
strike is converted into sound waves in the hammer,
and if the vibranium absorbs it, what form does it take? What we see from the clip: It’s converted into blue
light, ultraviolet light, this enormous flash of
light that’s given off. It’s showing that the
vibranium is actually a perfect sonoluminescent material. “Sono” meaning sound,
“luminescent” meaning light. You send sound waves in,
and you get light out. This is a real phenomena in physics. The only real difference is that vibranium unfortunately doesn’t exist. You’re linked to Janet. It’s quantum entanglement
between the quantum states of Posner molecules in your brains. Do you guys just put the word quantum in front of everything? This is a classic example of quantum mumbo-jumbo. There are some real words
and real concepts that were used there, but they’re
used in a context, or in connection with other phrases,
that I just cannot follow. But quantum entanglement is a real thing. If you bring two objects so close together that their quantum-wave functions overlap, then they can only be
described as a single two-object quantum-wave function. And if I bring them very
far apart, and I don’t disentangle them, then
they remain connected. So something that’s done on this end shows up in the other end
even though they could be on opposite ends of the
Earth or opposite ends of the solar system, they would still be communicating to each
other because they’re still described by one single wave function. Scientists are using this property of entangled quantum states to try and see if they can develop superior computers. They’re trying to make the context for a character in the movie “Ghost” who is quantum-mechanically tunneling through solid objects, a real phenomena, but the way they’re doing it
just doesn’t really make sense. A little bit too much quantum woo. So I’d say less woo, more quantum. I’m not going to make it. Black Panther: Keep going. So here we see the Black Panther and his sister, scientific genius Shuri. She’s using a holographically generated car in Wakanda to steer
a car the Black Panther has commandeered in South Korea. Which side of the road is it? Black Panther: For
Bast’s sake, just drive. OK, calm down. What makes Wakanda special is that its near-inexhaustible supply of Vibranium, an extraterrestrial mineral that has the ability to absorb all vibrations. The hard-light hologram
always used to bother me. Holograms are interference
patterns created with light. The hologram itself is
not an actual object, it is an image. But I
thought about it some more. Using sound, you can create regions that have a pressure and exert a force as if they were a solid object. And presumably, if you overlaid that with a optical hologram, you
would have something that feels solid but is generated via light. Presumably using their
command of vibranium, Shuri is able to do this and overlay it with an optical hologram,
which has no solidity but still produces a visual
image for her to interact with. I don’t know if I could
create a interference sound pattern overlaid with a hologram to create a hard-light object, but “Shuri” someone can. You show-off. Surprising absolutely no one, here we see Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, showing up in “Avengers: Endgame,” obviously responding to
the SOS call sent out by Nick Fury at the end of
“Avengers: Infinity War.” We last saw her in the
mid-1990s at the end of her own movie, “Captain
Marvel,” where she took off into outer space to try to
find the Skrulls’ home world. She comes back to Earth
24, 25 years later, doesn’t appear to be any older. Einstein’s special
theory of relativity says that all observers, whether
stationary or moving, have to agree on the value
of the speed of light. For that to be the
case, they will disagree about distances and disagree about times. There’s an effect called time dilation that if someone is moving very close to the speed of light,
to a stationary observer, time will appear to
have been moving slower. Say she spends six months
traveling close to, but not at, the speed of light, then
six months traveling at this velocity would correspond to
24 years passing on Earth. We don’t know what’s going to
happen in “Captain Marvel 2,” but if any of it involves
traveling near the speed of light, then the time-dilation
effect could easily account for the fact that she
doesn’t appear to have aged significantly from the last movie. This has been Jim Kakalios, your friendly neighborhood physics
professor, and in the words of the legendary Stan Lee,
“Face front, true believer.” What’s the matter with you kids? You never seen a spaceship before? Bring ’em over here, and
hold on for safekeeping. That is hilarious!