Mister Terrific is on the verge of cancelation but still has a couple more months ahead before the end. It is strange to me that this series started out as one which was supposed to be reliant on science to tell its stories, because here it seems as though it has lost almost all of that basis. As always there are spoilers here, and there is also a lot of (bad) science in this one.
Glaciers and the flow of solids
It is not necessarily fair to pick on Mister Terrific for this as opposed to the entirety of popular culture media, but naturally occurring ice caves are pretty rare. There is certainly such a thing as ice in a regular cave, but ice forming a cave by itself requires a lot of things to happen correctly. It might be counter intuitive from touching the solid version of water (ice) but it still does flow, just at a much slower rate. Sort of along the same lines as “nature abhors a vacuum” the presence of a naturally occurring ice cave is pretty small as the massive weight of a shifting sheet of ice will tend to destroy such caves. Maybe as depicted here this is caused by volcanic activity (they are in Iceland) but it is still going to form a cave which is a lot more vertical than horizontal. With all of that in mind in reference to the picture earlier in the issue, I sure hope that it just looks like they built a train tunnel through a glacier and didn’t actually do that. It would be functionally nearly impossible to do so (as the ice would melt around it), and mostly pointless.
Verdict: Bad Science
I am not sure how much I need to expand on this, but Michael explained earlier on in the issue that he survived a 500 meter fall. Then he explains that someone like him knows how to survive such falls. Granted there is something to be said for being able to know how to fall. Acrobats train extensively in this, and so might superheroes. The difference? The distance. Coincidentally it takes about 500 meters of free fall to get to terminal velocity which is about twice what you would drive at the speed limit in a car on a highway. So he is saying that he knows an effective way to slow down his body from speeds twice or three times of which easily kill people in car accidents.
Verdict: Bad Science
Superconductors, covalent and ionic bonds, metamaterials
All of these are real things. Metamaterials is kind of generic term which could mean a lot of things. They are materials which are created to give characteristics of things not found in nature. An example of this would be a functional cloaking device. Although not specifically identified, I am assuming that the levitation of the train is being driven by some kind of magnet and superconductors are great for creating strong magnetic fields. Covalent and ionic bonds are very basic principles of chemistry and are the two most basic bonds. What do all of these have in common? Nothing, they were thrown into the issue to sound more scientific but didn’t really have any bearing on the story or the presentation of science. They were just there.
Verdict: Comic Science
My second straight “Science of …” dealing with hypothermia. I gave The Flash #5 a hard time about this, and so I was happy to see this where a team is sent to retrieve Michael from the freezing temperatures. That is I was happy until “one of the smartest men alive” decided to walk into freezing water to induce hypothermia so that his body would go into a sort of hypothermic vegetative state. The human body loses warmth 25 times faster in water than in air. Once he goes into the water to induce this hypothermic state he comes back out to lose heat at the same rate he was before in the air, just with a lot less heat to begin with than he had in the air because he decided to waste a bunch of it. He would have gone hypothermic just as fast in the air, but he might have been awake for the part where he could have protected himself against frostbite and kept all his fingers and toes (and nose even.) Of course that didn’t happen as he must have some naturally immunity to frostbite. Maybe he should relinquish that “smartest man alive title.”
Verdict: Bad Science (really really really bad)
This is more like applied linguistics, but it is funny that the Icelandic woman can speak English without interspersing Icelandic words, while the French man puts the words in everywhere. Also some of the choice of words had me confused and was probably no worse than in this panel here. I think “noms” is ingrained enough in internet speak (or at least CV speak) that it threw me off to see it here. Noms is actually French for names (and actually sounds a lot closer to no), not that most readers would know that.
Verdict: Bad Science (or bad language)
I am not even sure how to classify this statement which he makes as it does indeed deal with molecular chemistry 101, except he gets most of it wrong. Hydrogen and ionic bonds are not analogous to one another, rather hydrogen can itself create ionic bonds. What he says about bonds being broken by pressure or temperature are true, except neither of these would exist in abundance in a volcanic lake. A lake suggests that some of it is still water, and so would not be warmer than 100 degrees Celsius, and such a lake which actually have less pressure than a colder one (water is at its most dense around 3 degrees Celsius.) Of course this is the guy that is about to walk into freezing water to save his life, so maybe I should cut him some slack? Nah!
Verdict: Bad Science