If superpowers were real: Super strength – Joy Lin


If you wake up one morning with 1,000 times the strength
you had the night before, how will you handle
delicate day-to-day tasks? Everything must seem so fragile to you since the scale of your strength has expanded one thousand times. You’d have to be very careful when you’re shaking someone’s hand so you don’t end up breaking their bones or crushing everyone you hug. And using a fork to pick
up a piece of broccoli from a Styrofoam plate without driving the fork through the plate is going to be as difficult
as brain surgery. Say the day comes and you get the chance
to save a damsel in distress falling from a helicopter. So, you hold out your arms, hoping to catch her. Seconds later, you will find yourself holding her lifeless body. What happened? Well, pressure is force divided by area. The smaller the area, the bigger the pressure. This is why we can lift heavy objects without breaking our skin, but a tiny needle can make us bleed with just a little poke. The pressure that will be
exerted on her body can be calculated by force divided by the area
on the top of your arms that comes in contact with her. It doesn’t matter if your arms
are strong enough to catch her body
without breaking your bones. Her spine is not strong enough to be caught by you without being damaged. Even if you rip off the nearest door to provide a bigger
area to catch her with, you still wouldn’t be
able to save her anyway. Remember, it’s not
the fall that kills her, but the sudden stop at the bottom. Let’s say she’s falling
from a 32 story building, about 300 feet, and you are 6 feet tall, maybe 10 feet on your tippy-toes, with your arms above your head holding a door, in hopes of distributing the pressure across a larger surface area, but all you’re doing is essentially moving the ground up by 10 feet. So, she’s now falling from 290 feet, instead of 300 feet, reaching the speed of 173 feet per second just before impact, not counting air resistance. It’s the equivalent of crashing
at 94 miles per hour into a wall with a door in front of it. The only thing that could
save her is flying. But that power comes with its
own host of scientific issues. If you could fly, what you must do is fly up to her, start flying down at the speed
she is falling, hold on to her, then gradually slow down until you come to a complete stop. This process requires
a lot of cushion space between the point she starts
falling and the ground. Every second you waste on changing into your superhero costume and flying up to her height, her head is getting that much
closer to the pavement! If she’s falling from a high place, and you can’t get to her until she’s only a few feet
above the ground, there’s really nothing you can do other than magically turn the pavement into marshmellow to allow her enough time
to slowly come to a stop. Then, break out the chocolate
and graham crackers and you’ve got s’mores. Mmmm, delicious! Now, which superpower physics lesson will you explore next? Shifting body size and content, super speed, flight, super strength, immortality, and invisibility.

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