The Science of Aquaman #3

Posted by RazzaTazz (9647 posts) - - Show Bio

This week I was looking forward to Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #3 to continue my sort of regular feature as of late where I look at the science of a particular issue.  However, after reading it I can say that there was almost no science in it worth mentioning (though there were a few things relating to policy surrounding science.)  Without one of the regular DC science related titles coming through for me, one of the non-science focused titles did.  Aquaman #3 had a fair amount of science in it (there are spoilers here of course)

 
 

Arthropods, Shellfish, and Pressure

The first series of panels here deals with the pods which the monsters use to capture and immobilize their prey.  Interesting concept especially so that they keep them alive inside.  There is actually a lot of science here.  The concept of prey immobilization with a secreted substance is one which is related not to marine life but to spiders.  Not all spiders do this but it is common enough that the predator will keep their meal alive but unable to escape.  Incidentally, there are very few fish in the world which have a venomous bit or that use venom aggressively.  One group of animals that does?  Spiders.  So are these things from the bottom of the ocean actually spiders?  My answer is simple … how would I know? (but probably not, I will deal with that later.)  There are other marine life that do this though, namely some shellfish (who are the most poisonous of animals).  The pod itself is well conceived as well.  This ties back into the liquid material they breathed in the movie the Abyss.  It existed then and it exists now.  In terms of water roughly speaking for every time you descend an extra thirty three feet you will experience an increase on one atmosphere of pressure.  Pressure is directly related to volume when it comes to gases.  So a SCUBA diver at 33 feet has twice as much air in his or her lungs than a person does at the surface.  Of course a liquid will also react to this increase in pressure, just not as quickly and will be able to find equilibrium easier.  Also as said later the pod is made of the same type of material that you would find in a deep sea diving suit.  As opposed to SCUBA, these aim to actually protect from the outside with what is basically a suit of armour against the pressure.  It still doesn’t stop the pressure completely, but the outside pressure is far less of a factor.  Thus if you were to put pressure on something hard like that which was filled with fluid, it is likely that the thing inside would stay alive.  Incidentally these monsters coming from the depths would require the ability to withstand a massive change in body pressure. 

Verdict:  Comic Science (but some really well thought out stuff). 

   
  

 Bioluminescence

I liked that they put this in here, but there are a few problems about this.  First of all for Aquaman to ascertain that the things must be from the bottom of the ocean because they use bioluminescence is a bit of a stretch.  Fireflies and glowworms are not from the bottom of the ocean after all.  Also something which needs to consume 20 to 30 times its weight in food per day to function is pretty ridiculous.  I am going to deal with evolution and the food web later in this analysis, but suffice to say anything that requires that much energy on daily basis is probably doomed to extinction.  Also bioluminescence is not very energy consuming, for the firefly for example the amount used in its mating (which is what its used for) is of negligible value in the overall mating process.  So these things are using bioluminescence to light rock concerts, or they just aren’t using that much energy. 

Verdict: Bad Science

 

 

 

 Laws of Motion and Properties of Gases

Incidentally someone asked me if I could do something on jumping recently, but I generally only take them as they come, but here it is.  Characters that are able to leap large distances are kind of an oddity in comics.  I think I remember reading somewhere once about how Superman, if he did jump over a building in a single bound, would create a shockwave that would likely level the building.  Additionally the thing which hurts humans is not speed but rather acceleration and the ability to jump in such a manner would likely create a lot of damage to the internal organs of a human (though maybe not a superhuman.)  From this vantage point though there is something wrong here.  Jumping off in such a manner is going to require a lot of energy, by the laws of motion tell us for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  So seeing as they started on a wooden boardwalk with the weight of three people (well two people and a monster) in one small area, chances are this is going to poke a hole through the wood, which while strong, likely couldn't handle that much force concentrated in one area.  Also the two characters managed to jump simultaneously twice in the same issue, which seems pretty hard (though I guess Olympic divers do it).  Although it is not in this issue, I was asked to look at jumping specifically as it relates to change in direction  mid-air.  I guess some comic book writers have written in the past that a character is stronger enough to change direction mid-air.  This sort of doesn’t follow with the properties of gases.  It has been a while since I took the chemistry of gases, but I think the number is something to the degree of gases being 95% nothing.  In comparison to matter and liquid this essentially means that the friction you get from air is far less than that of other forms of matter.  Skydivers can change direction in mid-air, but generally only by changing their body position and still the largest vector of direction involved is straight down.  The strength it would require to flex your muscles to create enough friction with air to create a change in motion would likely create a shockwave that would kill everything is a significantly large radius. 

Verdict:  Bad science

 

 

 

 Hydrothermal Vents, the Food Web and Evolution

I liked the reference to geothermal vents here.  They represent an extreme to which life has found a way to live despite the harshness of the environment.  While the animals found near a vent are pretty alien looking, they are of course still completely terrestrial in origin, that is to say that life didn’t originate there but originated up here.  This ties this back into the spiders though, spiders would not have been one of the organisms capable of migrating to the bottom of the ocean for numerous reasons.  Of course things evolve, and this is one of the driving factors of life.  For a scientist to say that the monsters “are an entirely new chain of evolution” is kind of a ridiculous statement.  Every species on this planet is an entirely new chain of evolution.  When it comes to evolution though there are certain other mitigating factors.  Evolution depends partially on the ability of a species to survive, and a species which essentially eats everything in its path is not going to survive.  This is one of the fundamental aspects of the food web, everything needs to eat everything else in the right proportions or it simply will exhaust the food web and therefore starve.  Of course, that is why these things have come to the surface world, but how they ever evolved into a monstrous like creature while consuming everything they see for an ability which is far too energy consuming (bioluminescence) really does not make all that much sense from a scientific perspective.  I did appreciate this though as it talks about animals on the verge of extinction, which as an environmental science student I find to be of some importance.

Verdict: Comic Science

There it is, that is my longest one of these yet.  There was a lot of science in here, which I applaud.  Most of it was poorly represented or poorly conceived.  Good thing the quality of the issue made up for it (Aquaman is one of the best series out there at the moment.)

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#1 Posted by SC (13148 posts) - - Show Bio

Very nice Tammy, some interest concepts played around within the comic, little touches, but I like when writers make mention of them. Aquaman is pretty good and entertaining comic I agree. Oh and nice and comprehensive details and analysis with your blog too, thank you for taking the time and effort, its appreciated. 

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#2 Posted by Daveyo520 (2447 posts) - - Show Bio

Are you a science major?

#4 Posted by RazzaTazz (9647 posts) - - Show Bio
@Daveyo520: Hopefully someday soon, at the moment I am just a science captain, but they say the promotion to major is in the works :P 
 
@ScarlettAssassin: I am glad you like them, it makes me happy when people enjoy them :)  
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#5 Posted by Daveyo520 (2447 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz: Your pun has killed me.

#6 Edited by difficlus (10679 posts) - - Show Bio

i'm liking these blogs!

#7 Posted by RazzaTazz (9647 posts) - - Show Bio
@difficlus: There are a few others
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#8 Posted by TheRedRobin96 (334 posts) - - Show Bio

I like the science in Flash more, it is really cool.

#9 Posted by Doctor!!!!! (2055 posts) - - Show Bio

Aquaman-" I don't talk to fish"

thats science I can behind of!

#10 Posted by NightFang (10078 posts) - - Show Bio

@Doctor!!!!! said:

Aquaman-" I don't talk to fish"

thats science I can behind of!

#11 Posted by Kallarkz (3303 posts) - - Show Bio

The Hulk jumping thing is going to get tiring after a bit.

#12 Posted by shrmntnk62 (251 posts) - - Show Bio

Good Stuff, very informative.

#13 Posted by tonis (6202 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz: wow, I LOVE this idea of comic science analysis, you got me hooked :)

Extremely informative and well thought out.

#14 Posted by SC (13148 posts) - - Show Bio
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#15 Posted by feebadger (1445 posts) - - Show Bio

Fantastic blog. I love science but only when it pertains to people in tights with their underpants on the outside.

#16 Posted by BKole (501 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz: This is a brilliant blog. It's nice to see someone else taking so much interest into the science of comic books. My only query really is when you discuss bioluminescence, you neglect really too look at the hundreds of examples that do take place in the deep ocean trenches and in the Benthic depths. True, they don't require huge amounts of food per day to survive, instead living on the square route of sweet FA in order to survive, but things like Angler Fish, tiny decapods etc, even sponge and cone jellies all utilise the Bioluminescence, as a source of communication, mating, defence and attracting food.

The other point I'd like to bring up, because I am annoying like that, is your suggestion that the life that exists on the Thermal vents originated up here. Perhaps I misread it, but as far as I am aware, Crabs, Tube Worms, even the double hard fish that live around the superheated water all evolved down in the ocean itself.

I agree with most of the points here, though. Comic book science does take great liberties with things, particularly the bioluminscence. I do feel that these bad guys would make more sense if they were in fact Molluscs or something like that, instead of glorified trench dwelling Stone Fish.

#17 Posted by RazzaTazz (9647 posts) - - Show Bio
@BKole: Thats a good point, there are a lot of creatures down there with bioluminescence.  By the evolution you are partially right, but then that questions when it is that evolution starts and stops for a particular species, for instance have humans been evolving since life first appeared on earth, or since we stepped out of the ancient forest onto the plains, or since we formed our first permanent buildings?  By that I mean absolutely that life has evolved down there, just life almost certainly didnt originate there.  At some point something from the world above made its way down there and discovered it could survive.  
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#18 Posted by BKole (501 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz: Well, that's certainly an interesting way of looking at it. I can confess that I haven't ever really considered it from that point of view before. The way we were taught was that life evolved in the oceans and under water and made its way onto land, as opposed to it evolving on land and moving into the Ocean, or staying on land. I mean, nobody ever really asked the question, so that doesn't mean it isn't correct, it was just sort of...implicit in our education. I was always taught that it was the reverse, life started in the ocean and then crawled onto the land and discovered it could survive there.

In terms of the Evolution comment, I'm not sure to be honest. Does evolution ever really stop except with extinction? There was that recent discover of Cave Gecko's that evolved directly from Gecko's that lived around the cave, to the point where the physical traits of the lizard were slowly loosing their colours. A proper example of evolution at work, in a time frame we can measure. I can't remember where I read/saw that, but, yeah, thats an example I can pull from my brain. I guess it's a case of Chicken and Egg really? I'd consider our evolution starting when the first amino-acids came together, and it hasn't stopped yet. But that's just me.

Incidentally, maybe I imagined this - did you say your studies are in science? Which area? Biology? Physics? Chemistry?

#19 Posted by RazzaTazz (9647 posts) - - Show Bio
@BKole: Certainly, life did first start in the ocean, but then it is a question of where in the ocean, the bottom of the ocean is cold, dark and harsh place.  Life first started in the upper reaches with the abundance of resources and sunlight.  As time went on the life migrated everywhere from there both on land and into the depths.   
 
That is the case overall for evolution, I just meant where do you draw the line as a species?  In the case of the organisms at the bottom of the ocean they evolved from molluscs, fish and crustaceans near the surface that slowly evolved to be able to handle life there.  In terms of whether things ever stop evolving, they don't in nature, though many believe that evolution essentially stops once civilization becomes involved.   
 
Yes environmental science, so a little of everything
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#20 Posted by BKole (501 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz: Well, as far as I was aware when life first evolved in the ocean it was when the world was brand new and not quite as rugged as it is now. As far as I can remember (been a while since I did this) the Pre-Cambrian oceans were all relatively shallow and warm. I don't have any figures to back this up, but life certainly evolved into incredible diversity in these warm, shallow oceans. Then with the huge extinction events, which wiped out something like 98% of the diversity of the oceans, things got a bit tough for a while. So, I wouldn't imagine that the idea of the cold and dark extremes of the ocean were quiet as cold and dark as they are now. Although, that said, its not exactly like the cold and dark bits are without insane diversity, its just....really unexplored due to us exploded with the pressure.

I agree with you about the evolution debate. I don't think there is enough evidence to consider evolution stopping once civilisation is involved considering we're apparently civilised and every other thing on the planet, according to our views isn't as clever or as civilised as us. Which is crud matter. But, my view is that evolution still occurs even now, despite our inability to be exposed to the same environmental moulding factors that craft evolution in other animals. I watched a TV programme once, I forget what its called I really want to re-watch it, it was something like the Chimpanzee complex or something. Basically, some humans have an altered/extra gene which enables them to be comfortable to live in built up areas, In fact they thrive on it - more evidence of an on-going evolutionary process. The theories and examples put forward by this programme were something like, in communities that exceed 150 people, like Amish communities, they split into two smaller settlements because 150 is the magic number or something, then you have to start sharing land/resources etc.

I don't really know where I personally draw the line, if I am honest.

Environmental science eh? I did Zoology at Degree Level. It was...less great fun than I expected.

#21 Posted by RazzaTazz (9647 posts) - - Show Bio
@BKole: Interesting stuff, thanks for adding that in, my background sort of gives me some exposure to a lot of different fields but no real expertise in any.  So I take what you say as accurate.  Still I think in terms of extremophiles that a lot of evolution had to occur.   
 
Zoology sounds interesting, I will get you to write the next one of these :P ;)
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#22 Posted by TypingKira (3509 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz said:

@Daveyo520: Hopefully someday soon, at the moment I am just a science captain, but they say the promotion to major is in the works :P

@ScarlettAssassin: I am glad you like them, it makes me happy when people enjoy them :)

I love you Tazzy.

Great blog! This is probably my favorite "science of. . ." one so far :}

#23 Posted by feargalr (1163 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz: Loving these blog posts, I just finished my microbiology degree and Im doing my masters and I can safely say your science powers are kicking ass here.. keep it up

#24 Posted by ReVamp (22865 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz said:

@Daveyo520: Hopefully someday soon, at the moment I am just a science captain, but they say the promotion to major is in the works :P

I really really want to read this, but before I do, OMGTHISPUNISAMAZING.

#25 Posted by KnightRise (4785 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazza Those are all really strong points except the super-jumping, the laws of physics dont matter in comic books! although i do remember reading in the article science of supermen that superhumans that can fly and/or jump would have an electromagnetic field surrounding their body that counters other forces, but even that could just be comic science

#26 Posted by Daveyo520 (2447 posts) - - Show Bio

@ReVamp: Don't encourage her.

#27 Posted by ReVamp (22865 posts) - - Show Bio

@Daveyo520 said:

@ReVamp: Don't encourage her.

Why not? :(

#28 Posted by Daveyo520 (2447 posts) - - Show Bio

@ReVamp: You don't want to know the PUNishment.

#29 Posted by ReVamp (22865 posts) - - Show Bio

@Daveyo520 said:

@ReVamp: You don't want to know the PUNishment.

Oh, I already know the PUNishment, its very hard, thankfully, she cuts me a break for some wierd reason.

#30 Posted by ReVamp (22865 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz: This is truly amazing. I rarely read blogs fully, most of the time I just skimmed through them. But for this one, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this. The amount of knowledge you have in that brain is incredibly impressive. I'm loving this series, I'm probably going to check out the previous one.

which while strong, likely could handle that much force concentrated in one area.

I believe you mean to say couldn't here. While I mostly agree, you can never be sure how much force is required to propel a character like Aquaman. Also, on the part of the mid-air jump, I don't see why it isn't feasible that there actually is a shockwave, though I haven't read the issue.

#31 Posted by RazzaTazz (9647 posts) - - Show Bio
@ReVamp: Yup good catch
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#32 Posted by ReVamp (22865 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz:

Bioluminescence

I liked that they put this in here, but there are a few problems about this. First of all for Aquaman to ascertain that the things must be from the bottom of the ocean because they use bioluminescence is a bit of a stretch. Fireflies and glowworms are not from the bottom of the ocean after all. Also something which needs to consume 20 to 30 times its weight in food per day to function is pretty ridiculous. I am going to deal with evolution and the food web later in this analysis, but suffice to say anything that requires that much energy on daily basis is probably doomed to extinction. Also bioluminescence is not very energy consuming, for the firefly for example the amount used in its mating (which is what its used for) is of negligible value in the overall mating process. So these things are using bioluminescence to light rock concerts, or they just aren’t using that much energy.

I've just read the issue so I'd like to argue some things, because I have the compulsive obcession to argue with everyone :/ LOL, but seriously, don't take it the wrong way.

  • Fist of all, I should mention that he isn't asserting that they are from the bottom of the ocean because they have bioluminescene, he's simply stating that because he already knows that they're from the ocean, he knows that because of the bio-luminescence that they need to be from somewhere pretty dark. How does he know? It already been established in the issue by the witnesses to the kidnappings.
  • Furthermore the 'expert' mentions that eating 20 to 30 times its weight is pretty ridiculous and that he couldn't imagine what they preyed on regualarly to keep this up. Obviously, you could say that it is doomed to extinction in the world that we live in, but you have to consider that they came from a place that even Aquaman doesn't know, so it going to be a very paranormal world. Which explains why they can survive, because they have some sort of prey that can keep their feeding habits in check.
  • Not really going to go home with this point, but he says this kind of Bioluminescence, so its safe to say that it is a very specific amount of Bioluminescence, which means it could be incredibly strong. Of course, you mention that, you nothing wrong here.

Again, I'd like to emphasize that I mean no offense [not that I think you'd take any], I'm just doing what I do (aka being an asshole :P). Still, it doesn't take away from a cleverly written blog, congrats on this, yet again, Razz.

#33 Posted by The Qu (41 posts) - - Show Bio

Your observation about their eating habits dooming them is pretty spot on, considering this issue. As bad of science as that is, I think it was probably on purpose.

The bio-luminescence is still bunk, though. We never even really saw any of them but the king use it.

#34 Posted by cbishop (8333 posts) - - Show Bio

I must admit: my science knowledge is weak, so I didn't quite follow everything, but I always appreciate good writing when I come across it. Very nicely written

#35 Posted by TheWitchingHour (1340 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm not sure if you do analysis of D.C. characters exclusively, but Magneto would be a great choice for one of the segments. He has used his power in so many variations over the years it's ridiculous. There is a lot of good and bad science behind the writing. I'd be super pumped to check it out.

#36 Posted by Kiddevil (7488 posts) - - Show Bio

These are awesome I just have one comment. The leaping thing, well in the comic world science and everything is far more advanced. With their advancements couldn't they construct the buildings with materials resistant to shockwaves and vibrations? And often the ground does shatter when they land sometimes even when they take off.

#37 Posted by Green ankh (998 posts) - - Show Bio

very interesting .. enjoyed it very much.

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