Sunday, February 06, 2011


 I've been writing a Weird Western story, and as a result, thinking a bit about superspeed (as it's an ability I want some of my characters to have).

The idea of how superspeed works, at least in my story, is not that the flow of time really changes, but that you are operating at such a high speed (including your mind and your muscles), that everything else seems to be going slower.  Now, this being the case, gravity seems to slow down.  Let's say a wagon goes off a cliff.  If you're moving at superspeed, it seems to take a long time to fall.  If you're sitting on it, it still seems to take a long time to fall.  If you and the wagon become separated, you still take a long time to fall.  So from your perspective, gravity seems to be slower.  So when you move, do you move as if you're in a low gravity environment, with long leaping strides?

Now at issue is the fact that the forces of the universe haven't really changed.  Gravity isn't any weaker.  So if you move as if you're in a low gravity environment, then you're not just faster, you're stronger too, such that your leaps carry you a great deal farther and higher.  Higher strength, however, is one of the prerequisites of superspeed in the first place.  The extreme acceleration of superspeed means you need to produce that much more force.  So if you have the strength to move at superspeed, then gravity should seem weaker.

One question is whether I should deal with speed and strength as separate powers.  Technically, my story already has a Mark of Speed and a Mark of Strength, I've just been considering superspeed as coming from the Mark of Speed, and dealing with the Mark of Strength as a separate matter, not that you need the Mark of Strength to make use of the Mark of Speed.

Now, there are some disadvantages to moving at superspeed.  First, there's a lack of control.  You've seen how people on the moon move about.  Their long leaps don't exactly give them a lot of coordination.  And when you're in the middle of a jump, you have very little control at all until you reach something, be it the ground or a wall.  Second, things don't operate how you think they should.  You pull a trigger on a gun, and it's going to take a while to fire.  Let's assume that no matter how fast you're going, you're still much slower than the speed of the bullet (and the detonation that produces it).  You still have to wait an interminable time for the hammer to fall.  And while you're proportionally stronger so you can pull the trigger and activate the mechanism faster, how well will the mechanism stand up to the wear and tear?

Thinking about these things is what I've been doing tonight instead of actually writing.

1 comment:

  1. There is a book called 'The Physics' of superheroes' which describes what you want to know Donald.
    HOWEVER (and it's a big however), the Prof who wrote it made an elementary mistake in his arithmetic in chapter one, and since subsequent chapters use the results of chap 1, quite a few of his fabulations are off by a large factor. I wrote to him pointing out his mistake and providing the corrected maths, but has refused to rework the book (which would be quite an effort because of the domino-effect mentioned above) or put up a Corrigendum online. NOT good, IMHO.


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