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Superheroes & Electromagnetic Spectrum?

  1. Apr 5, 2015 #1
    For years, I've been tinkering away at an idea for a superhero. Without going into too much detail, I thought it'd be cool if he could tap into, control, and even travel through a number of different types of signals: radio signals, satellite signals, wi-fi, etc. Using brain waves, as well, I thought he could also read minds, as well read body signals (becoming a supremely talented marital artist).

    The problem is that, as I mentioned in my introduction thread, I'm something of an idiot when it comes to science. I have the mind of a typewriter monkey, not a lab jockey (I meant that in jest, please don't take offence). And the concept of the electromagnetic spectrum and anything involving radio waves or any sort of communication flies right over my head. Some pun intended.

    Would anyone be able to recommend some good source material that would help explain some of these concepts to me? Preferably something relatively dumbed down, that doesn't rely too much on mathematical formulas, since that stuff just confuses me. The sources could be books I can order, documentaries, TED talks, etc.

    Thanks very much in advance for any help you can provide.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2015 #2


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    What do you mean with "travel through"?

    Controlling electromagnetic waves is easy - you can receive and emit them with antennas, lights, eyes, cameras and other devices - it is not hard to assume a superhero can do that without external tools.
  4. Apr 5, 2015 #3
    How about an introduction to Maxwell's equations? You can find plenty of material for it online, all you need is high school physics. Just skip the numerical and algebraic formalizations and concentrate on the qualitative descriptions.
  5. Apr 5, 2015 #4
    The best example - and one I can't seem to find a video of - is the electric gremlin from Gremlins 2. He was able to travel through anything electrical because he was made of electricity. In one scene, he tried to travel through a phone...and was put on hold. So, something like that? Being able to physically transform himself into whatever form he needed in order to travel through phone lines, radio signals, satellite feeds, etc.
  6. Apr 6, 2015 #5


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    The concept of an electromagnetic superhero - or villain - is an old one with a literary provenance from the realms of physics, religion, sci-fi and UFOlogy.

    Our own PF thread on inorganic lifeforms of plasma:

    From the Koran and other Islamic literature come the stories of Djinn (genies), non-human beings with an independent will, made of smokeless flame (plasma) coming from caves and caverns to aid, or more usually, play tricks on mankind.

    Authors John Keel, Gregory Little and Andrew Collins have written extensively about beings, whether ultraterrestrial or extraterrestrial, dwelling in and occasionally emerging from the electromagnetic spectrum. This is said to be the source of UFOs and aliens.

    The celebrated astronomer/physicist, Freddy Hoyle, wrote a rather good sci-fi novel about an electromagnetic superhero, The Black Cloud.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2015
  7. Apr 7, 2015 #6
    Could even take that a step further and have a super hero who is digital, I'm thinking of something like a macho version of the character 'Data', from Star Trek.
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