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The Physics of Superheroes

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,529 Ratings  ·  180 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 str ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published September 29th 2005 by Gotham Books (first published 2005)
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Nov 15, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 27, 2015 Stories rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: america, 4-stelle, 2015
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
Jun 17, 2012 Aspry Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Daudz varoņu, daudz komiksu un vēstures.
Lieliski ieliek perspektīvā komiksu universus, nedaudz neveiklāk ar to fiziku (mani reizēm uzvilka amerikāņu mērvienību sistēma, bet principā jau atsvaidzināt pamatlietas fizikā nenāk par ļaunu.
(Ļoti neveiksmīgi, ka šāda lasāmviela ietrāpīja tieši manā "lasīšanas bloka" brīdī.)
Dec 18, 2008 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-tech
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.
Apr 03, 2010 Stan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rohun Yarala
Jun 05, 2016 Rohun Yarala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakalios was one of the most informative books which I have ever read. I personally tend to read more fantasy and fiction than non-fiction or educational books, generally fearing that I will easily become bored and have wasted my time with purely factual books. This was not the case this time. Kakalios was masterful in his ability to mix his knowledge of comic books, fun-filled stories and characters with complex physical phenomenon. By explaining some of the ...more
Jan 26, 2013 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 31, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 19, 2010 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 25, 2015 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Feb 23, 2012 Sandi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sandi by: My daughter the science teacher
Shelves: lemmed, non-fiction
Sigh. I'm officially giving up on this book. It's not that it's really awful. In fact, I thought the first section was very interesting and entertaining. However, I just got bored when the author started discussing how many calories the Flash needs to run at super speeds. From that point on, it turned into more of a physics lecture than a discussion of the scientific validity of superhero powers. I've been out of college to long to wrap my brain around all the math he uses.

If only the second sec
Jore Bharadhwaj
Scientific explanation that leaves no room for argument and a hilarious take on superheroes. Convincing enough to believe superheroes do exist.
Oct 25, 2016 Pablo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing "introduction" to basic and hard-core physics from a super heroes point of view. If physics class were taught like this, more kids would fall in love with science. Science is everywhere, we just need to see. And from the comic book side, one learns the morality of humanity. As a super man once said "do good to others and every (hu)man can be a Super(hu)man"
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
Jul 16, 2013 Himanshu Modi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 23, 2016 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Mostly, I picked this book up because I like physics. While I've been enjoying the slew of superhero movies coming out over the past few years, I don't really read comic books. Or rather, I didn't really read comic books, but now I want to start. Not that I need another hobby...

Do comic book fans read books like this and get hooked on physics? Are the writers/artists who create comic books physics nuts? Aside from roughly one "miracle exception" per superhero (usually how they got their powers),
Christopher Roberts
I read this book a long time ago as well, but I do remember it is a fun look at introductory physics using superheroes as an example. Kakalios explains that his students in this course did better than the average student in an introductory physics course and I can see why.
Dec 11, 2014 Riccardo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 21, 2010 Henry rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Guy Haley
Feb 16, 2016 Guy Haley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Real science made fun!

Despite the “science” in “Science Fiction” there’s probably a fair few of you reading this sentence right now who are struck with dread at the thought of a science class. This book is written for you people (and me, as it happens).

Kakalios, a physics lecturer, here describes basic physics principles in a manner that won’t turn you off, showing in the process that you don’t have to have even one bunsen burner in sight in order to deliver a valuable lesson.

Each chapter descri
Aug 01, 2012 Aries rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: divulgazione
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
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
Aug 31, 2011 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 07, 2016 Chiara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jun 20, 2008 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 27, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
Mar 07, 2011 Kaila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
oh my gosh this book was so mcuh took physics fun to the max and let me tell you physics can be a very difficult thing to bring up to any level considered fun! i got my nerd on and i was like "physics with superheroes?! oh my gosh is this book talking about my favorite hero FLASH?!" the man who made this is soo cool and is actually a physics teacher..i wish he would be my teacher. i mean he uses actual terms and principles and not only explains them in an interesting way but in away the a ...more
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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.” 4 likes
“There'd be no molecules, no chemistry and, hence, no life without static cling.” 3 likes
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