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Electromagnetic Shockwaves

  1. Nov 12, 2014 #1
    In a Superman comic Superman drops a bomb into a sun eater and outruns the explosion, which is 50 times the size of Kepler's supernova. He is hit by the electromagnetic shockwaves but manages to fly out of the way of the wall of radiation. What type of energy did he absorb? What do electromagnetic shockwaves generate? Heat? Radiation? Light?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 13, 2014 #2


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    Electromagnetic waves travel at the same speed as the radiation...in fact, that's what the radiation is. Radiation in that context is gamma rays, which are electromagnetic waves...so it seems very weird that he would outrun "the wall of radiation" but not outrun "the electromagnetic shockwave" since they are the same thing...
  4. Nov 13, 2014 #3
    Thank you for the explanation. Superman can fly FTL, what I think the writer was trying to show is he flew FTL to escape the radiation but as you say they're one and the same so it doesn't work on a physics level. This is his (Earth) father's explanation in panel :

    "The explosion was about fifty times the size of Kepler's supernova. The electromagnetic shock wave came rushing towards Clark at the speed of light. Right behind it was an expanding ball of radiation that would have incinerated Clark as soon as it touched him. I don't know if the boys usually faster than light, but that day he was tired. He wasn't going to make it. Fortunately that day he didn't have to".
  5. Nov 13, 2014 #4


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    If they changed the "electromagnetic shockwave" to a neutrino burst that would make sense (and sound even more exotic!). In a supernova, a neutrino burst happens first because neutrinos can escape the core of the explosion unhindered compared to light which has to make it out of the entire envelope of the star. The neutrino burst carries with it a whole lot of energy (10% the rest mass of the star) and would be enough to do some major damage if you are close by. But this is assuming the explosion was a supernova haha. :)
  6. Nov 17, 2014 #5
    the one question about superman is: on krypton he is as fragile as a human is on earth. the earth makes him able to be super in comparison to humans.

    yet if the earths properties make him super wouldn't his leaving the earth make him revert to normal?
  7. Nov 17, 2014 #6
    His body acts like a solar battery. There is a limited amount of energy he can store. If he is not exposed to sunlight e.g. underground, underwater or in the dark(which is rarely explored but should be because it would be funny!) he becomes weakened.

    In Superman 13 (2012) he benched the equivalent of the Earth's weight for five days after which point he flew to the sun to recharge.

    "I'd like to hand out here, just sorta storing any energy I lost over the past few days."

    He then confronted a Kryptonian dragon but was unable to break it's grip.

    "Can't believe I'm not strong enough to break it's grip!".


    Either he couldn't break the grip because of the fatigue from benching the equivalent of the Earth's weight or he simply wasn't strong enough. His strength is limited. The most weight he's ever lifted is the weight equivalent to 2 Earths. To put things into perspective Hulk, who is not only fuelled by gamma energy but gets stronger and more durable (muscle fatigue does not set in) in relation to stress levels, lifted a star, weight equivalent to 333,000 Earths!
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