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.
I had Prof Kakalios for physics about 2 years ago. It was by far the funnest physics class of my life.
A related topic: Stupid Movie Physics
Completelly off-topic, but fun. (Disclaimer: I have no vested interest in, or connection of any kind, to this site.)
Darwinfish and other car emblems from Ring of Fire
It was the first book I read this year, and it was a good one to start on.
Mike Crichton says
Speaking of entertaining, you should like this: Alternate timeline squid! There’s a bunch of other alternate beasties on the site, most of them dinosaurs, but with your unwholesome cephalopod fixation, you’re probably not interested in _them_.
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.
Mike Nilsen says
Try this easily-digestible essay from Larry Niven, “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex.”
Mike Nilsen says
ps – CJCollucci:
They had to stick to their six-million dollar budget! Steve Austin was basically a victim of government cost-cutting.
Yeah CJ, I’ve often wondered the same thing. It should have been called The Six-Million Dollar Chiropractic Goldmine.
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.
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.
PZ Myers 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.
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
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…!
Did you ever get a Pirate Mode over here, PZ? Tomorrow’s coming quickly.
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’.
Keith Douglas 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.
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.”
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:
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