Sue and the Wheel

I suppose this blog is six years late, but I have a good reason for it being so, mostly that when this movie came out that I didn't blog about comics, nor did Comic Vine have a blog feature (nor I think did CV even exist.) Anyway I was just randomly thinking about this movie last night, and one scene in particular. There is a reason for this that I will get to, but I am going to examine with a scientific perspective a particular scene from this movie. I should state first of all that I know that this is comic book movie science and not real science. I know things like force fields do not exist, but I still like to look at the interface between superpowers and the real world science.

In the movie the Silver Surfer is going to various locations on Earth and making holes in the ground which will allow Galactus to follow along and start consuming whatever it is that he wants to consume (everything). The group end up going to London to try to stop him, but get side tracked when the London Eye almost falls over. The group intervenes and first by Sue with a large force field. This is what I intend to over-analyze.

This is what it looks like
This is what it looks like

The first issue here which should be established is momentum and mass. I will assume that Sue (or Jessica Alba) as a woman in good shape weighs about 55 kilograms, but just for the sake of the arithmetic, I am going to round this down to 50 kilograms. The weight of the London Eye is approximately 2,100,000 kilograms. This means that it is 42000 times heavier than her. In terms of the combined mass therefore, her mass is 0.0024% of the entire system, which is essentially negligible. Why I am setting all of this arithmetic up to start with? Because it leads into my first major point, the second law of motion, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

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Sue's ability to hold up the Eye is completely dependent on her own ability to create force fields. Acting within this closed system of her versus the wheel, if her mass had anything to do with the actual manipulation of the system then she would have been crushed instantly. However, she wasn't and therefore it is not. What is a little out of scientific logic therefore is why she is pushed backed from trying to hold the weight.

High heels in a super hero costume - pointless
High heels in a super hero costume - pointless

She is eventually forced back over top of the water where she creates a force field for herself to stand on. Not bad thinking, except as already identified her mass is irrelevant really to the mass of the wheel. If she has enough power left over to create herself a force field to hold herself up, she would have been better standing in place and using the additional energy to strength the falling wheel, but there is something else which would actually useful, only that it is something which she should have already figured out, angular momentum.

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One of the things that I liked about this movie and the one before it is that Sue Storm was a little bit reimagined. Instead of being the high school graduate superheroine of the 1960s, she was made into a PhD graduate superheroine of the 2000s. I know a thing or two about science myself, but I don't really know a lot about physics (as I keep mentioning whenever I look into science like this.) One of the basic concepts about physics though is that of angular momentum, and it is reasonable that while I know about this with my knowledge of environmental science that it is reasonable that Sue would know about this as well seeing as she has an advanced degree in science. Without going too much into detail about this (because I can't go into detail about things that I don't understand very well), it is a lot easier to rotate something by applying the force to the outside rotating edge as opposed to the inside rotating edge. The analogy of this would be that you have to open a door - it is much easier to open the door by pushing the side farthest away from the hinge as opposed to pushing the other side. So by moving backwards over the water, she is actually giving herself a better vantage to use a force field where it counts the most, at the top of the wheel. Theoretically she would be best placed by standing (on a force field) exactly where the top part of the wheel would hit ground. The London Eye is 135 meters tall and right next to the water, the River Thames is 250 meters wide at the nearby Tower Bridge, so to best utilize her force field she should be standing more than halfway across the river instead of right next to it. I do have one more complaint though, and here it is - the nose bleed.

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I don't understand why her nose bleeds whenever she has to do something really hard. The other four characters were also using their powers at various times in this movie to their full potential but they never got nose bleeds. It could be attributed to something to do with her powers (like she creates a small force field inside her nasal cavity any time that she uses her power?) I think the proper attribution though is that she gets them because she is female and more delicate. This is not a really fair representation for women, as it implies that when we use our minds to focus that we get nose bleeds whereas men can operate at full capacity without having to produce a bloody kleenex.

That's it for the over analysis (for now).

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