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Physics Behind Hulk's Antimatter Feat?

  1. Oct 10, 2014 #1
    Hi

    In a Hulk story published in 1979 a rogue KGB agent kidnaps a physicist and forces him to make an antimatter bomb which he plans on using to wipe the USA off the map. The KGB agent activates the bomb, Hulk stands between the two antimatter spheres keeping them from making contact before eventually punching them into orbit.

    I have nothing but a rudimentary understanding of physics but from the articles I have read on antimatter I believe antimatter gives off a staggering amount of energy :

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/15/antimatter_black_hole_collapsar_neutron_star_unexpected/

    The clever thing about antimatter is that when it bumps into normal matter the two annihilate each other completely, converting entirely into energy according to Einstein's famous formula E=mc2. This is the most powerful fuel-to-energy generation process possible - it makes an H-bomb look like a cap pistol. Some form of antimatter-powered drive might actually allow humans to travel between the stars within their own lifetimes under Einsteinian physics.

    What I don't understand is the physics behind preventing the two spheres from meeting. One sphere is negatively charged and one is positively charged? What is the equivalent force Hulk is showing in keeping these two spheres apart? Is it akin to the force of a neutron star for example or millions of nuclear warheads?

    [Pictures removed by Mentor]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 10, 2014 #2
    This is quite bad. I rather read/watch The Simpsons . They are better at science:)
     
  4. Oct 10, 2014 #3

    Drakkith

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    Uberhulk, I removed your pictures since I'm uncertain on copyright laws regarding Marvel Comics and pictures posted on forums.

    Also, it seems to me that the answer to you question is that the EM force is responsible for keeping the two apart. Each sphere of antimatter is repelled by the Hulk's hands. This is also the reason that you can hold an object in your hands. It would obviously have to be a stronger repulsion than the attractive force of the two spheres, but I think it's an accurate explanation.

    (Either that or it's one of those required secondary superpowers that are never mentioned)
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2014
  5. Oct 10, 2014 #4
    Websites like comicbookresources and comicvine have thousands of scans in their forums and have a working relationship with Marvel and DC who provide interviews, exclusive and previews of upcoming comics. They don't seem to care about scans, it's full issues they would have a problem with. Would it be ok if I linked to them instead of embedding them? I would also delete any links if/when my question was answered?
     
  6. Oct 10, 2014 #5

    Drakkith

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    I don't see a problem with that, but be aware that I may be overruled.
     
  7. Oct 10, 2014 #6
    Ok. I'll post links on request to avoid any problems.
     
  8. Oct 10, 2014 #7
    The Simpsons defies the laws of physics - by both sucking and blowing at the same time.
     
  9. Oct 10, 2014 #8

    mfb

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    The whole idea is unphysical, so it's hard to explain details.

    To get an explosion, you use some amount of antimatter and bring it together with matter - as our whole world consists of matter, on earth you just have to disable the storage mechanism and it will explode. There is no need for a second special sphere, or anything special touching something else.
    Also, Hulk and the floor are made out of matter. If the spheres would be pure antimatter it would annihilate immediately. So the spheres have to be some containers of regular matter that have antimatter floating inside. But that makes the point of touching spheres even more irrelevant.
    There is also no reason why they should attract each other.
     
  10. Oct 10, 2014 #9
    I think one sphere was negatively charged and one positively charged. I believe the writer is trying to imply the Hulk absorbed the energy but the problem with that is the spheres don't touch to set off an explosion until they're both launched into space so he's battling the inertia. They claim "The attraction between those spheres is irresistible". In their defence it was written 45 years ago!
     
  11. Oct 11, 2014 #10
    Homer is stronger and Bart is smarter than Hulk :p
     
  12. Oct 11, 2014 #11

    mfb

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    Then they would quickly neutralize just by touching the ground (or the air, or Hulk)
    All of this is physics known for more than 80 years.
     
  13. Nov 3, 2014 #12
    Not to comic book writers! Bear in mind this was before the internet era and researching in the old fashioned way was time consuming and difficult.
     
  14. Nov 3, 2014 #13

    mfb

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    Asking a physicist was never too hard. But then the story would not have worked, I guess.
     
  15. Nov 3, 2014 #14

    Matterwave

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    How big were the balls? The coulomb force is quite strong, so if the balls could have somehow been charged so that one ball was made entirely of positively charged ions, and the other was a ball made entirely of negatively charged ions, the force between them could be quite considerable. A mole of positively charged ions (1+) and a mole of negatively charged ions (1-) would have a force between them of ##F=k(N_A)^2e^2/d^2##, assuming the Hulk's arms are ~3m across (he's a big dude), that's a force of ~10^19 Newton's of force! Or ~10^18 kg-force equivalent. For comparison, this is a few % of the force holding the moon in its orbit! Of course, all of the other objections to the basic premise of this comic are valid.
     
  16. Nov 17, 2014 #15
    He's actually resisted force equivalent to the orbit of a planet so it seems the sphere feat is not among his most impressive feats. Tales to Astonish 89

    Hulk took a direct blast from an anti matter cannon and was not disintegrated! Tales to Astonish 78. I hope to complete the Hulk section of my feats website by the end of the week so will have the scans for these two feats and all his other high end feats and some basics physics to explain them -bearing in mind I'm a Computing graduate so physics isn't my field.
     
  17. Nov 23, 2014 #16
    Well seeing as one of hulk's powers is the "controlled" emission of gamma rays he could in theory function as a physical penning trap by emitting enough photons to counteract the diffusion of antimatter. However antimatter emits radiation only when in contact with regular matter which it annihilates creating a blast of gamma rays. I'd say if anyone in the marvel universe is capable of stopping an antimatter weapon it would be red hulk due to is gamma ray absorbs ion abilities.
     
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