The Science of Flash #5

Posted by RazzaTazz (11941 posts) - - Show Bio

After that weird aside for the Science of Firestorm #5, I get back to some more traditional science here.  As usual spoilers are throughout.  I won’t be touching the attempts to cure Mob Rule, that’s comic science right off the top, so much so that they aren’t even bothering to use scientific terms for it and feature a Frankenstein like electric conduit chair.  


Momentum, inertia, air pressure, buoyancy, displacement (etc.)

This is a very poorly conceived presentation of science.  The people of the city are trapped on one side of the river and want to cross over but cannot due to fears over the structural integrity of the bridge.  Along comes Barry with two barges in tow due to him drafting them off of his speed.  Of course this is possible because … actually this is almost completely impossible.   I am trying to go over the idea in my head about how this would work.  A barge is a pretty heavy thing, a quick internet search says they weigh over 500,000 pounds, but let’s just say 500,000 to make it easy.  Barry is not a very big guy, but let’s say he is pretty muscular and might weigh 200 pounds.  Right off this is a difference in degree of scale by three (or the barge is working on a scale one thousand times heavier than Barry.)  So granted that Barry can travel at the speed of light, which would mean he had a lot of momentum (though for practical purposes this is almost always ignored in comics for how much stuff he would destroy), but he says here that he is not pushing them, rather that they are drafting off of the air he is displacing.  But that would have to be a lot of air.  Assume the same degree of scale works for Barry on volume as it does for weight.  That would mean that he would have to suck an extraordinary amount of air out of the way in order to make this work.  Theoretically also that could work, but the removal of air is also going to create a huge shockwave that would probably be enough to do a lot of structural damage to the city and probably also sink the barges.  Another problem (there are lots here) is the fact that the air is not the main problem here.  It’s the friction with the water and the displacement of the water.  So … much … bad … science.  Of course it can be explained away by the cure-all for speed and momentum related logic, the speed force!

Verdict: Comic Science (speed force gets the save)





This is not really a problem per se, but Iris has spent probably an hour in a room at sub-zero or near-zero temperatures and she is only wearing some short shorts and a t-shirt or blouse.  She would be pretty cold and probably be losing both motor skills and cognitive functions.  An oversight on the part of the writers, and the speed force can’t help them here.

Verdict: Bad Science




 The Global Commons

This is more of a problem for me as a student of environmental science.  Barry’s plan to deal with the plan is to dissipate some extremely dangerous material into the atmosphere (which is part of the global commons).  I won’t go into the plan to create a vortex, it kind of touches on the previous point about momentum and such concepts.  But as for just indiscriminately sending stuff to the atmosphere where the forces of nature will come into play and presumably gently dissipate all that bad stuff  … DON’T DO THAT!  That stuff will not just disappear there, it will stick around.  This is pretty much the attitude of everyone towards the global commons, that the atmosphere, oceans and even outer space can take unlimited dumping.  It is sadly not the case. 

Verdict:  Bad Science (more like Barry is a bad environmentalist)




 Dark Matter

Well, truth be told, this is not really about dark matter.  I will leave alone that Barry has been messing with the space time continuum by using the speed force.  Interesting plot development, but purely in the realm of soft science fiction.  It is of course possible to travel through time.  Thanks to the concepts explained in the theory of relativity it is definitely possible for a one-way trip forward in time, but that is it.  More so what is interesting here is that the use of the speed force poses a danger, and in fact when reading this I made an instant connection in my mind to dark matter.  As a concept of particle physics in fact I am not very well informed on how this works, but essentially is speculated that at some point in the far future that dark matter and dark energy will start tearing the matter as we know it apart.  That’s not a pleasant thought, but it assuming the scientific hypothesis is correct, it will be well past any of our lifetimes.  So I give a good science here, but only by proxy. 

Verdict: Good Science  

#1 Posted by cosmo111687 (1578 posts) - - Show Bio

Your point about the environment reminds me of a part in DC Universe Online where you have to grab barrels filled with Joker Venom and toss them in the river. The whole time I was thinking, "This is a terrible, terrible, terrible idea!"

#2 Posted by RazzaTazz (11941 posts) - - Show Bio
@cosmo111687: Oh I have never played that game, but another good example for sure.  
#3 Posted by majestic99 (8915 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz: @cosmo111687:

The Speedster Force defies physics.


#4 Posted by Video_Martian (5650 posts) - - Show Bio

Excellent blog :)

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