The physics of superheroes /

Main Author: Kakalios, James, 1958-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Gotham Books, c2005.
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Review by Choice Review

This is a book for all seasons and all readers. It will certainly appeal to comic-book lovers who also appreciate physics. Kakalios (physics, Univ. of Minnesota) teaches a freshman class in physics based on the exploits of comic-book heroes and villains. He is clearly extremely knowledgeable in action/comic-book lore and the relevant physics. The book has three main sections separated by physical themes: "Mechanics," "Energy," and "Modern Physics." Individual chapters focus on specific physical concepts such as forces, momentum, torque, and special relativity. Integrated within them are comic-book events that illustrate these concepts, in some instances very well. This is not a textbook but would be an excellent ancillary to one. It would enliven what is considered to be a difficult and dry science. Each chapter has sample comic strips and footnotes with historical or scientific details. There is a chapter with recommended additional reading for those interested in greater physical detail and another chapter of simple equations of physics for those inclined mathematically. Detailed endnotes; good index. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels. N. Sadanand Central Connecticut State University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

This terrific book demonstrates a number of important points. First, a subject that everyone "knows" is difficult and boring can, in the hands of a master teacher, be both exciting and fun. Second, it's a myth that only people particularly adept at mathematics can understand and enjoy physics. Third, superhero comic books have socially redeeming qualities. By combining his love for physics with his love of comic books, University of Minnesota physicist Kakalios has written a book for the general reader covering all of the basic points in a first-level college physics course and is difficult to put down. Among many other things, Kakalios uses the basic laws of physics to "prove" that gravity must have been 15 times greater on Krypton than on Earth; that Spiderman's girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, died because his webbing stopped her too abruptly after she plunged from the George Washington Bridge; and that when the Flash runs, he's surrounded by a pocket of air that enables him to breathe. Kakalios draws on the Atom, Iron Man, X-Men, the Ant-Man and the Hulk, among many others, to cover topics as diverse as electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, string theory and thermodynamics. That all of this is accomplished with enough humor to make you laugh aloud is an added bonus. B&w illus. Agent, Jay Mandel. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Bam! Pow! Kakalios (physics, Univ. of Minnesota) delivers a one-two punch: real science and good fun. Does "leaping tall buildings in a single bound" have anything to do with Newton's three laws of motion? You bet, and Kakalios explains the connection in his lively, humorous style. He looks at momentum, friction, special relativity, properties of matter, light, magnetism, atomic physics, quantum mechanics, and solid-state physics as demonstrated by his favorite comic book heroes-including Superman, Flash, and the Invisible Woman-and shows that much of the time, comic book physics is accurate (though he exposes the bloopers, too). The book's a treat for anyone interested in physical science and can be enjoyed readily by math phobes and those with little science education, since Kakalios explains it all with clear detail and a good measure of fun. Highly recommended for small academic libraries and the science collections of public libraries of all sizes. [Popular science buffs may also enjoy Laurence Krauss's The Physics of Star Trek and Barry Parker's forthcoming Death Rays, Jet Packs, Stunts & Supercars: The Fantastic Physics of Film's Most Celebrated Secret Agent (Johns Hopkins, Nov.).-Ed.]-Denise Dayton, Jaffrey Grade Sch., NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.