Introduction – Marvel Physics
We may have seen many superhero films but most times we wouldn’t have thought about the science behind it, as those films are only fantasies. Speaking about science in superhero films may seem silly but there is a possible science behind what they show in some superhero films which may not be possible with our present day technology but possible theoretically and the day of accomplishing such tech may not be too far.
The black panther, a superhero featured in the last 2 sequels of Marvel universe was actually powerful despite being what he was shown in his debut film “Avengers- Age of Ultron“. In his debut film no one except the Marvel comic fans got the chance to know about Black panther’s ability. But the last 2 films especially Black panther told a lot about him. Most important of them was about his suit and civilization.
The nation Wakanda is a fictional place in Marvel universe which is kept hidden from the rest of the world through a hologram. The civilization became highly advanced and prosperous because of the fictional metal Vibranium,strongest in the world found in their region. They used Vibranium to develop everything including Black Panther’s suit.
Though vibranium is a fictional metal we could analyse the science behind it. When a bullet strikes a person, the kinetic energy built up on the bullet is too high as it has a very high momentum due to its velocity and when it strikes the person its energy is concentrated on a tiny region this enabling the bullet to tear though the flesh of the person. In this case the human flesh being incapable of handling such a high energy gets its bond between the atoms broken thus the flesh is destabilized tearing apart. Any metal to have such a withstanding capacity should be capable of transmitting the vibrations produced on it over a larger extent without breaking the bond between its atoms.
Vibranium is a metal which makes it possible. A material’s strength can be identified by finding the speed of sound in the material, faster the speed of sound stronger is the material. Therefore vibranium is a metal which transmits the sound at a faster rate. All the impact made by a projectile on a target is due to the vibrations possessed by the atoms in the projectile and its influence on the target. When a target could handle those vibrations from the projectile and dissipate that higher amplitude of vibrations to ordinary amplitude over a short time will survive the impact. That is what a vibranium does and hence the Black Panther’s suit is able to whitstand any kind of impact produced over it. Despite the Black Panther suit’s ability to successfully transmit the kinetic energy, it cannot handle the momentum of the projectile as momentum has to be always conserved. That is why you could see Black Panther struggling a bit while facing the bullets.
In the ‘Black Panther(2018)‘ film they upgraded his ability from just surviving the impact to be able to transfer the energy stored in his suit to the opponents. They did it by storing the kinetic energy harvested from the projectile in the form of potential energy and then releasing it again as kinetic energy in the form of blast. This can be achieved by ‘sonoluminescence‘, a method of converting sound to a light form. The energy(due to smaller frequency) of a sound wave is small when compared to that of a light wave which enables us to convert a large amount of energy from the impact to a harmless form. As they are from a scientifically advanced society they could have used optical fibres to transmit these energy and store it in a battery which could be later used for producing a blast when needed by him.
The closest material to vibranium we have in our real world is graphene which is more than 40 times stronger than diamond & 300 times stronger than steel. It could transmit the sound at an extremely high rate when compared to other materials. The problem with graphene is that it is in powder form(due to single layer of carbon) and it is a great challenge to produce sheets made of graphene.
Thor, the god of thunder from Norse mythology is featured as a superhero in Marvel universe. The weapon used by him was a hammer named Mjölnir which helps him in controlling his power.
The speciality with his weapon is that it could be picked up only by those who deserve it. Many superheroes tried to pick it up in a challenge with Thor but to vain very few of them succeeded in doing that, even Hulk one of the strongest avenger failed many times. The logic behind it baffles many as it seems irrational when it could be picked up by someone who is more or less stronger than his colleagues while others can’t.
It is said that Mjölnir is made of a metal known as “Uru” and they made it “in” the heart of a dying star which was once miscalculated with a mass of 12,000 trillion pounds by Neil deGrasse Tyson considering that it is made “of” a dying star. The ordinary mass of Mjölnir declared by Marvel is 42.3 pounds but when someone else tries to lift it, there comes the interesting part.
The explanation has been given by Bruce Banner in ‘Indestructible Hulk #8‘. He says that the hammer emits gravitons by recognising the person who picks it up thus changing its own mass. It is quite impossible in our present day science as we haven’t even detected gravitons which is only possible in theory. But his homeplace Asgard is a scientifically well advanced society like that of Black panther’s and it makes sense to say that they could afford such weapons. According to Tony stark in one of the Avengers film, the hammer should be having a bio-sensor which could detect the physiological traits of the person who picks it up thus emitting the gravitons to increase its mass. However in the latest “Avengers-Infinity war” it is replaced by by an axe.