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The Physics of Superheroes

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,313 ratings  ·  162 reviews
James Kakalios explores the scientific plausibility of the powers and feats of the most famous superheroes — and discovers that in many cases the comic writers got their science surprisingly right. Along the way he provides an engaging and witty commentary while introducing the lay reader to both classic and cutting-edge concepts in physics, including:
What Superman’s stren
Paperback, 365 pages
Published September 21st 2006 by Gotham (first published 2005)
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Oh many times could this book have been written when I was a kid?
Here's a short list of role playing games involving human mutations, animal mutations, super secret powers and abilities I got into with some of my friends- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Generic Universal Role Playing System; Heroes Unlimited; Battletech; Robotech; James Bond; DC Universe; Marvel Universe and of course, D and D.
We'd spend afternoons and summer nights arguing about this concept- what is the most powerful
Blog Stories Review: http://storiesbooksandmovies.blogspot...

Spesso alcuni fattori ci impediscono di leggere un libro in particolare. Questi possono essere un certo stato d'animo, mancanza di tempo oppure, nei casi più frequenti, la 'paura' di affrontare l'argomento. Inoltre, se il suddetto argomento è scientifico... ahimè, che dolori! Quanti di voi sono stati perseguitati, ai tempi delle medie o delle superiori, dalla matematica, o peggio, dalla fisica? Immagino che piani inclinati, molle e pen
Aspry  Jones
Any lover of superheroes with a yearn to read funny textbooks is honor-bound to pick up this piece of reference by James Kakalios. Comic book lover and physics professor at the University of Minnesota, Kakalios employs the mathematics behind electricity, motion, power, time, theory and, if it applies, logic, to defend or debunk the ideas behind super powers. Why is Superman so strong? Could Henry Pym really become an "ant man?" And why is it believable that the X-Men's Kitty Pryde can walk throu ...more
Fantastic! A surprisingly thorough overview of physics told with many many illustrations from super hero comics. Sprinkle with a bit of multiplication and some humor and serve hot.

A warning that this blasts through about three semesters worth of physics in 300 pages, so if you aren't all that interested in the science it's probably a bit too intense.
I think I got a D in physics. However, when I originally bought this book I couldn't put it down. With a great, entertaining surrounding like comic books, Kakalios sneaks in some serious education.
James Kakalios is not only a theoretical physicist, but a comic book maven who can quote reams of superhero lore by issue, page, and panel. His book might be described as a freshman physics text for humanities majors, but with this twist—all of the physical principles are illustrated with the characters and stories from superhero comics. Did you know that, in order for Superman to leap a tall building (of a certain specified height) in a single bound, his muscles would have had to evolve on a Kr ...more
Not quite as influential as The Physics of Star Trek but still pretty cool, the Physics of Superheroes is still more realistic than most of the technology discussed in the Physics of Star Trek. My lovely wife got this book for me for Christmas, hoping that it would help my with Physics and entertain some of my lifelong questions of who is faster, Superman or the Flash, and which are tougher, Wolverine's claws or Captain America's shield. Surprisingly, the book even helped answer one of my first ...more
Loved this book from start to finish. It doesn't shy away from the physics, but keeps it fairly easy to grasp without requiring advanced math. Kakalios's style is straightforward and immediately endearing. He's funny, authentically passionate about both physics and comics, and transparent about his goals for the book. Comic book examples are compelling, and always help illustrate the physics principle under discussion. I found myself equally fascinated by the physics lessons and by his commandin ...more
If I were in high school or a high school physics teacher, this book would be a great way to get interested or get your students interested in physics problems. At a fundamental level thinking about situations in the right way lends to easy analysis and this book gets the intuition right.

While the calculations are trivial, their implications are interesting. For example, calculating the force that Superman requires to jump over a building leads to discussions about what Krypton must have been li
James Kakalios, un professore di Fisica, si reso conto che i suoi studenti considerano una perdita di tempo studiare movimenti di gravi, sfere, molle e piani inclinati.
Ha cos deciso di unire alla Fisica la sua altra grande passione, ovvero i personaggi dei fumetti!
Dalle sue lezioni nasce questo saggio divulgativo scientifico, veramente molto interessante e divertente. In un "patto con il lettore" il prof si impegna a non usare mai matematica che vada oltre le 4 operazioni fondamentali, e parte
Per fortuna da un paio di mesi a questa parte ho cambiato il format delle recensioni, perch come vi avrei raccontato la trama di questo libro veramente non lo so. Diciamo che probabilmente avrei iniziato con una domanda: si pu insegnare una materia scientifica rendendola leggera, ma non solo, a tratti persino divertente?
una domanda difficile, che mi interessa visto il mio ipotetico futuro da insegnante. Magari Kakalios non fornisce una risposta definitiva, ma ci prova e ci si avvicina molto.
The author does a great job of tying two strange worlds together. He does an excellent job of skimming two very different topics that can get downright esoteric in their complexity, providing just enough information about both to get the reader through his examples. Not exactly a quick read, but an interesting one. Probably better for someone who didn't take through Physics III in college, as some of the examples were very basic indeed. Not quite a page turner, but very good for the armchair rea ...more
Samuel Miravet Verde
Una obra cuanto menos, curiosa.

Kakalios cuenta en el prefacio que siempre que tenía que explicar los conceptos más complejos en sus clases de física, sus alumnos acababan desconectando...¿cuál fue su solución? Una genialidad: explicarlo todo con superhéroes. Después de varias charlas con enorme éxito, decidió escribir el libro.

La idea es explicar los conceptos básicos (y no tan básicos) usando a Superman, Flash, Spiderman y demás héroes de reconocida fama y el resultado es una obra de calidad, c
Jore Bharadhwaj
Scientific explanation that leaves no room for argument and a hilarious take on superheroes. Convincing enough to believe superheroes do exist.
Becky Loader
I knew I was going to be an English major in college, so when I was in high school, I decided NOT to take physics. Instead, I took a speech course, where I learned skills I used throughout college and grad school. IF I had taken physics from Professor Kakalios, I would be a physicist (applied, not theoretical) and working to win a Nobel prize! This book should be required reading for anyone who is "a-scared" of science. I heard Professor Kakalios speak at a program by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and he ...more
A very good book, even for those who have never loved too much physics, but not for those experienced seeing as the concepts are too basic. Perhaps for those who are not fond of superheroes, the book is a bit 'boring in parts where he talks about these.
However, the concepts that are explained in the book, is well understood. Also at the end of the book there is a chapter will explain briefly the concepts discussed in previous chapters, such as mathematical formulas, Newton's laws, the three prin
"In altre parole, il nostro superpotere è l'intelligenza. Come disse Niels Bohr, pioniere della meccanica quantistica, «la conoscenza in se stessa è la base della civiltà»."

Un saggio appassionante come un racconto, scritto bene e soprattutto divertentissimo!
Kakalios affronta praticamente tutti gli argomenti della fisica, dalla meccanica di Newton (forza, velocità, massa, accelerazione), all'elettromagnetismo, alla meccanica quantistica delle particelle subatomiche (fino alle teorie su viaggi nel
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Ecco il primo commento che voglio associare a questo libro.
Chiariamo una prima cosa: si tratta a tutti gli effetti di un libro di divulgazione di Fisica per principianti (o giù di lì) assolutamente ben fatto e su questo non ci piove.
La novità sta nel modo in cui l’argomento è trattato: James Kakalios, che nella vita è anzitutto Nerd e poi Professo di Fisica all’università del Minnesota, ha ben pensato di prendere un bel po’ di storie e situazioni dei classici fumetti Marvel e DC e di s
I wanted this book to be a simple and fun refresher on physics, as I came in a little bit rusty on them, and needing to solve physics problems with increased frequency at work of late. I was surprised to discover that this book taught me nearly as much about comic books(and their history) as it did physics. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, considering most of what I know about comics comes from television or movie spin offs, but it was still nice.

It's obvious that James Kakalios really enjoye
A very entertaining analysis of the physics of comic book personages, the Physics of Superheroes chronicles the more logical side of the staple of the American geek, even when the logical seems illogical. Even if you hated physics in school, you will love the way the author delivers the content, which couldn't've been any more cool, as who doesn't love comic books and superheroes? My favorite part of this tome, aside from the content, is the pictures that accompany it, particularly the one that ...more
Ben Babcock
I must confess that, as a kid and an adolescent, I never shared the ardour for comic books many of my peers did. I collected Archie comics and read the odd Superman comic, but that was about it. So unlike most, who come for the superheroes, I came to The Physics of Superheroes for the physics.

As an aspiring teacher, I love to hear about new ways of teaching difficult or boring topics to students. While I don't find physics boring, I can see it being difficult—and, depending on how it's presented
Himanshu Modi
Have you ever been so fascinated by a superhero that you try to get yourself bitten by a spider so as to be able to swing from one high rise building to another, regardless of the fact that those spiders were neither genetically mutated through exposure to radiation nor are there that many high rise buildings in the city that you live in?

Well I have been. That probably explains why I liked this particular book so much. This book will be enjoyed by the following grades of people, in the descendin
Maurizio Codogno
Pensare di spiegare la fisica partendo dalle imprese dei supereroi Marvel e DC è una follia, su questo non ci sono dubbi. Bisogna però tenere a mente due cose: i fisici non sono matti come i matematici, ma quasi; e gli esempi usuali per spiegare la fisica, con piani inclinati, pendoli e via discorrendo, sono così noiosi che si farebbe di tutto pur di non vederli. Così James Kakalios, fisico americano e appassionato di fumetti, ha pensato di vedere se si poteva tirare fuori qualcosa ed è uscito q ...more
As someone who always liked science in school through being brought up around sciency thing, this book was always going to be interesting. James Kakalios does two things (in my mind): offer an interesting angle to get into science for those who aren't enamoured with the subject, and give those who like science an odd angle to view comic books.

Looking at the actual cause of Gwen Stacy's death still stands out - no idea why, I just really enjoyed that part.

Kakalios is witty and funny, joking thro
Really nice book. I imagince it would be a little bit tricky for a non-science related reader as far as some concepts are concerned but as promissed the math and most difficult calculations are not needed to understand the book. There were a couple of times where the book did lag in the science but eventually it would return to the comics. I would have prefered more comic references (although there are many), but it does an overall excellent job in introducing someone via comics to the world of ...more
Krishna Kumar
An unlikely book and a work of love. The author explores the antics of his favorite super heroes through the eyes of a physicist. What superpowers are possible given what we know about physics? And what super activities are inconsistent within the context of accepting the miraculous nature of the superpower. A really fascinating book. I deducted one point for the book being somewhat tedious in middle, but overall a worthwhile read.
I am currently taking an intro-level Physics course for school and this book has been a fantastic resource. It has helped me to understand the concepts behind most of my homework as well as some of the math work for it. Furthermore, it has made the whole experience much more enjoyable since it involves some of my favorite superheroes. It's quite entertaining and the author does a fantastic job of explaining the principles for the layperson. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys comi ...more
Kakalios explains science through the context of superheroes. He takes standard theories and formulas, but his examples, rather than using balls or cars, use Superman or the Flash. By using superheroes for his scenarios, he makes the science more fun, and so easier to understand. Whether you like science or superheroes, it's an enjoyable read.
This book was so much fun. If you love comics and are in any way interested in physics, this book should be right up your alley. I have a pretty good basic understanding of physics so I never really got bogged down with much, that being said, I could see it being hard for someone who doesn't.

I like the author's style and his ability to present physics in a way that I had never even imagined could be done. Well done.
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Goodreads Librari...: ISBN - 1592401465 2 146 Jul 05, 2012 04:57PM  
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James Kakalios is a physics professor at the University of Minnesota. Known within the scientific community for his work with amorphous semiconductors, granular materials, and 1/f noise, he is known to the general public as the author of the book The Physics of Superheroes, which considers comic book superheroes from the standpoint of fundamental physics.
Kakalios, who earned PhD from the Universit
More about James Kakalios...

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“Physics is not about having memorized all the answers, but rather about asking the right questions. For when the right question is posed of a phenomenon, either the answer becomes clear or at least a path to further and more fruitful questioning is revealed.” 3 likes
“There'd be no molecules, no chemistry and, hence, no life without static cling.” 3 likes
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