These sound like issues that would be argued about on The Big Bang Theory, but this one is an actual research paper by a group of physics students, Physics students say Spiderman’s webbing would be strong enough to stop a moving train. One of the images was was playing around with in Photoshop yesterday had some leaves with frozen ice crystals. Though when you looked closer you could also see a spider web thread stretched from one leaf to another. To be able to make fabric or cable that strong, that could also stand up to freezing weather, from organic materials would be an amazing accomplishment. The link is to the abstract and once you get there you can download the pdf of the paper if you like. While this news release is the response of a physicist to something astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said on Twitter, Thor’s Hammer Is Not That Heavy (But It Is Scientifically Interesting)
“The critical mistake Tyson makes is thinking that Mjolnir was forged of the core of a dying star, when it was actually forged in the core of a dying star,” says Suveen Mathaudhu, a program manager in the materials science division of the U.S. Army Research Office, adjunct materials science professor at NC State and die-hard comics enthusiast. “It’s well documented that the hammer is made out of ‘Uru,’ a fictional metal from Thor’s native realm of Asgard.”
And Mathaudhu can cite documentary sources to back him up. For example, Marvel – which publishes the Thor comics – issued a “Thor’s Hammer” trading card in 1991 that states Mjolnir is made of Uru and weighs precisely 42.3 pounds. That’s lighter than a herd of 300 billion mice, much less a herd of 300 billion elephants. But it raises a different science question.
Using the dimensions and weight on Marvel’s trading card, Mathaudhu estimates that the density of Mjolnir is about 2.13 grams (g) per cubic centimeter (cc). That makes it even lighter than aluminum, which has a density of 2.71 g/cc. So what could possibly be that light and strong?
Mathaudhu has a theory.
“Perhaps Uru is the ‘holy grail’ of high-pressure physics: a form of metallic hydrogen,” Mathaudhu says. “Some predictions of the density of metallic hydrogen fall into this range, it requires extreme conditions to form, and could be a tremendous energy source. It’s thought to be present at the core of planets, such as Jupiter, and at the core of suns – which are stars, after all.”
While Tyson made a mistake in calculating the weight of Thor’s hammer, he succeeded in drawing attention to the sciences of astrophysics and materials science – which is a good thing.
Sheldon would probably claim he already knew that.
I wasn’t going to make this whole post a nerd fest, but since I’ve already started, Mars May Be Habitable Today, Scientists Say. It seems that Mars, Antarctica and Chile’s Atacama Desert share some extreme climate qualities. In the two earthly ones, despite from extreme conditions there are microbes that survive with only the tiniest amounts of water. Since mars seems to have some moisture on occasion in some places, similar microbes may live there as well.