The Science of Mister Terrific #7

This issue of Mister Terrific essentially spells the end for the series seeing as it is the penultimate issue.  I am not really sad to see it go, other than it won’t provide me with fodder for any more of these type of articles.  As usual there are spoilers here, but by this point I think more people are probably reading these “Science of Mister Terrific” articles than are actually reading the comic itself, and I don’t think many people read these articles.  

Pseudo-science and the Philadelphia Experiment

This is not real science at all.  In fact it is noteworthy here only because it is basically the opposite of what I do by breaking down these comics.  Instead of real science being applied to the imaginary world of comics, this is imaginary science being applied to the real world.  Of course as a conspiracy theory it works well – either the U.S.S. Eldridge was made invisible or teleported – and has fueled the imaginations of some (as mentioned here Stephen Spileberg.)  Still it hurts my mind to think that people will believe in stuff like this while also deny climate change or evolution in the same breath. 

Verdict: Bad Science 


Evolutionary Psychology

That last point was more of a commentary than a point I suppose and so is this one.  A lot of people (myself included) find the field of evolutionary psychology to be kind of weak, in that it deals a bit too much in generalizations to be really effective, but some things do ring true.  Without going to deeply into it, it does help explain why men have a mid-life crisis, but as opposed to some people’s impressions, evolutionary psychology says that the reason men have mid-life crises is because their spouses have reduced sex drive or reproductive abilities, thus they buy the toys of twenty two year olds and do stupid stuff to impress women half their age that have as much depth as one of the Kardashian sisters.   No such point as really being made here, but if I am being thorough then there it is. 

Verdict: None really 


Energy, Motion and Gravity Wells

Now into some real science as it comes out of the mouth of Michael Holt, which increasingly as this series has gone on has been littered with inconsistencies.  Granted the T-Spheres can seemingly do anything, but here what he says makes little sense.   I am not sure how best to explain this but I will try … potential energy refers to the storage of energy in an object.  This can be expressed through different types of energy, for instance if you wind up a spring then you have stored elastic energy in it.  In a difference sense imagine moving a book to the top of a book case.  You have then stored energy in it as the result of it potentially falling to the earth due to gravity.  If it did fall this energy would be transferred to kinetic energy, namely that it is an object with mass and velocity.  Isaac Newton’s laws of motion help to define intertia, namely that a body at rest stays at rest, and a body in motion stays in motion.  Here clearly the object is moving, thus you could say the inertial mass is the equivalent of momentum, or the mass times multiplied by the velocity.  Problem is that that is basically the same thing as the kinetic energy.  Gravity wells are another thing altogether, and a fair bit harder to explain than those, but basically a gravity well is caused by things have mass and distorting the space-time continuum.  Essentially everything with mass has one, but some more than others obviously.  This helps define things like escape velocity (not going to explain that though).  Maybe it is just explained horribly by what is meant here, but it sounds like he is trying to cancel one thing against another which are actually the same thing, to create something which it already has.  Sounds spiffy, but means nothing.

Verdict: Bad Science 



This stuff exists but is not really  very scary (used a fair bit in medical applications) but theoretically it could be used to make a fission nuclear bomb.  This has never been attempted though.   That is a massive bomb though, nuclear weapons don’t need to be that big.  Some of the ones they designed fit in suitcases. I would call this a case of comic science, but good comic science as it deals with something that is theoretically possible

Verdict: Comic Science 


Visible Light and Gamma Rays

Not this one again.  I have been over this before.  As stated here visible light has a certain wavelength which it operates within, and while all electromagnetic energy can be in a sense considered identical except in its wavelengths  this defines what things look like.  So that Michael can modify what wavelengths he can see from his mask, it doesn’t mean that in the end he would see the soldiers bathed in gamma rays.  Things would look maybe black and white, not in colour as it shows at the end.  Granted when he looks in X-Rays it does appear black and white,  but this raises another problem, that being where the X-Rays are coming from.  There are of course X-Rays in nature but thankfully not too many as practically no life could survive, and this is more so the truth with gamma rays.  So either they are saying here that he can bombard things with gamma rays, which would be very bad for him (as it means he would be carrying around some pretty radioactive) or that the entire world is bombarded with gamma rays, which would mean that everything living thing on the planet would be in for a lot of death in the near future.  It later describes that the suits create their own gamma rays to cancel out visible light, but only waves of similar wavelengths can cancel each other out. 

Verdict: Bad Science 


Inverse Compton Scattering

To be honest I had never heard of this before (just a reminder I study environmental science not physics) but after quickly reading up on it, this is clearly comic book science.  It sounds cool, but I am not sure how this would work (it involves energy transferred between electrons and photons.)  Not sure how that is going to make someone visible that is invisible.  Granted though the invisibility is impossible how they describe it, so this is a decent way to explain bad science.

Verdict: Comic Science 


Nuclear Weapon Design

Here is another field that I am no expert in, but the deactivation sequence (other than the groan inducing stop at nearly 1 second) is accomplished by what appears to be another magical T-Sphere.  I could not build a nuclear weapon, but I know generally how they work, in that they essentially require a sequence of timed reactions so that the fissile material will be caused to react with itself.  The fact that this is a fission bomb would mean that the mechanism is not the same as a fusion bomb (what we called atom bombs or nuclear weapons) but unleashing nuclear energy is a very tricky thing.  It is part of the reason why we don’t consider other countries with nuclear reactors to necessarily be able to create nuclear weapons, because it takes a lot of expertise to put one of these together.  Of course as already indicated, this bomb is technically feasible but never tested.  Still one or two things wrong with a nuclear weapon will make it not go off (witness Nicole Kidman defusing the nuclear weapon in the Peacemaker) even if all the pieces are there.  This is because it is a nuclear reaction, not a chemical one which essentially just needs the pieces in place and the right detonator.  Of course the T-Spheres could do that easily, but so could a lot of things.  The fact that it took him so long to accomplish though is not really that super.  

 Verdict: Comic Science 


Quantum Tunneling

Another thing I had to look up, while this is not necessarily what the writers meant either (it involves energy being able to move through barriers it shouldn’t) it makes me wonder if this is a reference to the upcoming exploits of Power Girl (seeing as she is the one doing the stealing) in her dimension hopping to Earth-2.  Though quantum tunneling doesn’t really have anything in common with cross dimensional travel (though granted modern scientists still effectively know nothing about how to do that.)

Verdict: Comic Science 


Homo Digitus and DNA

This is a term which futurists use to refer to the future  combination of man and machine in a much more closely related relationship.  As it is a futuristic idea, it is not really scientific in a sense, seeing as it is not here yet and therefore cannot be observed.  However, although poorly defined, I don’t think there is a claim that mankind will evolve its DNA to become something else, more like we will just get more in tuned with machines in whatever way can be imagined.  So any DNA sample left would still be homo sapien, as machines don’t have DNA.  So a hybrid of homo sapien and homo digitus DNA would still only be homo sapien DNA.  The bad science keeps going on and on. 

Verdict: Bad Science 

This is the longest one of these yet, and I somehow managed to reference the Kardashian sisters and Isaac Newton in the same article.  

4 Comments Refresh
Posted by feebadger

I have no interest in reading Mr Terrific the comic (which is just as well really considering it's being canned) yet i have read your The Science Of... blogs on him and all the subsequent ones. Please don't think no one reads or appreciates all the work you put in on these. They are brilliant and give me somewhere to go where i can have my intellect truly piqued and where i can feel as stupid as an ant trying to ride a pushbike.

Posted by jrock85

These blogs are actually more interesting than the comic.

Posted by RazzaTazz
@jrock85 said:

These blogs are actually more interesting than the comic.

Skip to 0:50 and really only watch for one second
Posted by jrock85