26 March 2013

Spider-man vs. the train, or fiction meets science

There's a fun article in Live Science: Spider-man's Silk Really Could Stop a Train.
That's right, some physics students have tried to find out if the scene from the 2004 Spider-man movie could really have taken place.  According to their calculations - it could.

They "calculated that the force needed to stop four New York City subway cars packed with nearly 1,000 people total would be 300,000 newtons, after taking into account the momentum of the train at full speed, the time it takes the train to come to rest after the webs are attached, and the driving force of the subway car."

They also estimated the strength & stiffness the silk required and compared that to existing spiders. "Having determined these parameters, it can be stated that Spider-Man's webbing is a proportional equivalent of that of a real spider, namely a weaker orb-weaver spider, but curiously, with a toughness more akin to some of the strongest spider silks," the students wrote in a paper in University of Leicester's Journal of Physics Special Topics.

So there you go, sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction - excepting of course that in this case Spider-man doesn't exist.

No comments: