Physics made entertaining

Let’s say you don’t want to actually read James Kakalios’s Physics of Superheroes(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll)—it doesn’t have enough pictures, and the text isn’t in word balloons, or maybe the word “physics” causes an acute case of the heebie-jeebies—well, now you’re in luck. Some of his lectures are on the web via the magic of YouTube, so now you can find out about the Death of Gwen Stacy, or what’s up with Electro & Magneto, or what silly bloopers were made by Superman or The Atom.

That’s a good trick, making physics fun.


  1. CJColucci says

    I used to get upset about the completely unnecessary errors. Take the 6 Million Dollar Man. I’ll buy the whole super-powered reconstruction, but why so incompetent? With his one super leg and one super arm, he tosses a car. How come his lower back doesn’t snap like a pencil? They could have given him a super lower back without spoiling anything.

  2. Watchman says

    Yeah CJ, I’ve often wondered the same thing. It should have been called The Six-Million Dollar Chiropractic Goldmine.

  3. Stogoe says

    The whole “Physics/Genetics/Chemistry of Beloved Series X” genre doesn’t appeal to me. I know none of it could happen in real life. That’s why I read it. I’m just not all that interested in the equations and the techno-babble-rationalizations when I’m reading space opera.

  4. gravitybear says

    I have a physics degree from UM-TC, but I never had a class from Prof. Kakalios. Friends of mine did, and they sounded like fun classes. His book is great.

    Stogoe: The whole “Physics/Genetics/Chemistry of Beloved Series X” genre doesn’t appeal to me.

    I hear what you’re saying, but I think it’s fun.

  5. says

    There is a genre of writing that consists of inventing excuses for the weirdness in comic books and science fiction. Kakalios’s book isn’t doing that: he’s saying that if we accept one bit of weirdness as a miraculous premise, what can we say about how that ought to interact with real world physics? And then he uses that as a launching pad for explaining that same stuff most physicists use billiard balls and springs and magnets to discuss.

  6. SEF says

    I don’t have (nor want to risk) the plug-ins for viewing those links. However, I feel obliged to enquire whether there is a version of “Physics of Superheroes” (or “Origin of Species” for that matter) which has been fed through a pirate mode filter. There really ought to be some text books which could benefit from being read tomorrow. I’m not sure works such as Pride And Prejudice could take the strain. :-D

  7. Steviepinhead says

    Yow! Thanks, SEF, for inadvertently handing me the title of my next great novel–well, actually, it would be my first great novel; er, first novel of any kind:

    Pirates and Prejudice!

    Pre-orders available soon from…for a mere…!

  8. says

    Allow me to translate for Stogoe:
    Avast, me harty, have ye got yer blog cantin’ like a true scurvy sea dog yet? For tomorrow, we be dyin’.

  9. says

    Those videos were pretty good. The bit about the white dwarf star and the electromagnet reminded me of the Bloodhound Gang skit from 3-2-1 Contact about a scam using an electromagnet to pretend to have a neutron star fragment.

  10. Gerald Fauske says

    Does anyone still remember Gamara the flying turtle? My favorite line in an SF movie: “The Earth is falling into the sun, we must evacuate Tokyo.”

  11. Anne Nonymous says

    I’ve always been dramatically uninterested in “The Physics of Fictional Universe X”, but those are actually pretty damn funny. This little snark, though:

    That’s a good trick, making physics fun.

    was kind of icy cold, man. Physics is always fun. It’s just that some people wouldn’t know fun if it ran up and shot “electric rays” at their ass. :P