Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

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Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:37 pm UTC

Hi! I'm writing stories again. One of my characters is a speedster, ala the Flash (though not quite that ridiculous). In thinking about how his powers work, I came up with an idea that I wanted to post here -- to see if anyone's interested in helping me break down how it might work and what its consequences would be (or even explain why it wouldn't work at all!).

The premise is that he has a form of time dilation; when he activates his power, the world slows down (from his perspective). The important bit here is that for him, momentum and velocity are relative to the dilation; so if he dilates time as a bullet is heading toward him, the bullet ends up just crawling in the air at a very slow pace. If it hits him, it hits him with the relative force he's currently perceiving. So it's like getting hit with a slow moving ping-pong ball.

However, to everyone else, he's moving with *incredible* speed and force. So, from his perspective, when he dilates time, the world is made of tissue paper; he can rip through walls with incredible ease, and when he runs, his feet tend to tear up the ground underneath him. He can't pick people up, because if he does, he'll probably just tear right through them.

Does this make sense? Besides the fact that time dilation is probably impossible, I mean. Are there any weird consequences that might manifest as a result of dealing with his power this way? The biggest one I could think of is that, because his power only affects him, he can't breathe while he's dilating time; oxygen just doesn't move fast enough into his system. So one of his big limitations is that he has to hold his breath while he's using his power (unless he carries an oxygen mask -- since his power presumedly extends to his clothes and whatever he's wearing).

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Xanthir » Sun Mar 22, 2015 1:05 am UTC

Why can he tear through walls? Moving a bullet is one thing; it's getting shifted through air, and we can do that when it's *not* being fired without a problem. But for walls the important bit is their structural stability, not their momentum.

Unless you mean that there's some odd two-way momentum manipulation? To him, everything appears to have small amounts of momentum (including how much it, for example, impacts the skin on his palm when he swats a bullet away), but to the outside world he's somehow sending out massive amounts of momentum? In that case, I see how everything gets "fragile" relative to him; he effectively has a super-strength power, in addition to his super-speed.

This sounds okay, just realize that the super-strength part can't really be explained in terms of time dilation. It's just an additional super-strength/force-manipulation power keyed to the super-speed.
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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Whizbang » Sun Mar 22, 2015 1:29 am UTC

What happens when he meets an immovable object?

I recommend reading up on the theory of relativity, and some of the paradoxes and their solutions to get an idea on how shifting perspectives at highly compressed/stretched times affects the outcome.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby scarecrovv » Sun Mar 22, 2015 7:46 am UTC

Let's do some math with an eye on the possibility of super-strength as a side effect of time dilation. Suppose that at normal speed he walks up to a 100000kg train locomotive and places his hand on it. He then dilates time by a factor of 100000, and gives it a push. If he pushes with a force of 10N for 1sec of his own time he imparts an impulse of 10Nsec. The locomotive will receive this impulse of 10Nsec and will accelerate to 0.0001m/s. From the train's perspective this took 10 microseconds.

The speedy dude can push the train with incredible force as seen by the train and all the bystanders. 0.0001m/s / 10us = 10m/s/s, or about 1g. Neglecting air resistance, he could push the train through the sound barrier in just 35 seconds as measured by the train. However, as measured by the speedy dude doing the pushing, he would need to push for 35 seconds times the factor of 100000 time dilation, which works out to 40 days of pushing. I can't hold my breath for 40 days.

He could increase the time dilation to 10000000, and that would cut the time to reach the sound barrier to just .35 seconds as measured by the train, but from his perspective it still takes him 40 days of pushing to impart that impulse to the train. Assuming that this intuition carries over to things that are harder to calculate, like smashing walls, time dilation buys him time to do incredible things, but it doesn't let him do those things any more quickly from his own perspective.

edit:

I just realized a neat side effect! Check out the electromagnetic spectrum chart. If he dilated time by 100000, or 10^5, light reaching his eyes from the world should be redshifted (from his perspective) by 10^5. During the 40 days of pushing that the rest of the world would see as 35 seconds, he wouldn't see normal visible light, he would see cosmic rays, and sinister Google projects! Similarly, if he can dilate time in the other direction he could see infra red. But of course he would be super slow and vulnerable while doing this. If he slows down by 10^7 he could see radio waves, but it would take him a year of real time for just a three second glimpse of the radio spectrum. With a little work you might be able to turn this into a cool plot point.

edit 2:

Aww crap. During the 3 seconds of seeing radio waves he'd get a year's worth of IR and visible light energy hitting him as gamma rays. He'd probably die of radiation poisoning almost instantly :(. Shifting time to be super fast to get x-ray vision should be safe though (for him). Also people looking at him will see an opposite red/blue shift. If he gets x-ray vision on everybody else, everybody else gets IR vision on him.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Whizbang » Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:32 pm UTC

I thought the redshift in light as observed in intergalactic distances was due to space itself getting stretched (though I concede that also means time gets stretched). According to my limited understanding of physics, the speed of light is the speed of light, no matter the perspective. My understanding is red/blue shifting would only occur at great distances where the stretching of space can come into play.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Neil_Boekend » Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:23 pm UTC

It is caused by the Doppler effect and that is quite observable when an ambulance drives by. No space stretching required.
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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Mar 22, 2015 7:24 pm UTC

Oh, cool; thank you everyone for the replies!
Xanthir wrote:Unless you mean that there's some odd two-way momentum manipulation? To him, everything appears to have small amounts of momentum (including how much it, for example, impacts the skin on his palm when he swats a bullet away), but to the outside world he's somehow sending out massive amounts of momentum? In that case, I see how everything gets "fragile" relative to him; he effectively has a super-strength power, in addition to his super-speed.
Right; when he swats the bullet away, it pancakes -- because from his eyes, everything has reduced momentum, but from everyone else's eyes, his momentum is ridiculous. To him, the world is incredibly slow, and made of very flimsy, fragile, malleable stuff; to us, he's some sort of unstoppable super-fast juggernaut.
Xanthir wrote:This sounds okay, just realize that the super-strength part can't really be explained in terms of time dilation. It's just an additional super-strength/force-manipulation power keyed to the super-speed.
But isn't momentum a product of velocity and mass over time? If I change the time part -- if his time is 100x from your frame of reference -- doesn't it make sense that his momentum would increase to a ridiculous degree? And if your time is .001x from his frame of reference, doesn't it make sense that you'd be essentially wet cardboard to him?

Keep in mind, I'm not a physics person, so I'm not asking these questions as a challenge to what you're saying; I'm asking them because I legitimately don't understand!
Whizbang wrote:What happens when he meets an immovable object?

I recommend reading up on the theory of relativity, and some of the paradoxes and their solutions to get an idea on how shifting perspectives at highly compressed/stretched times affects the outcome.
I'm a little intimidated by this idea (particularly because of my lacking ground in physics), but I will give it a shot, thank you!
scarecrovv wrote:Let's do some math with an eye on the possibility of super-strength as a side effect of time dilation. Suppose that at normal speed he walks up to a 100000kg train locomotive and places his hand on it. He then dilates time by a factor of 100000, and gives it a push. If he pushes with a force of 10N for 1sec of his own time he imparts an impulse of 10Nsec. The locomotive will receive this impulse of 10Nsec and will accelerate to 0.0001m/s. From the train's perspective this took 10 microseconds.

The speedy dude can push the train with incredible force as seen by the train and all the bystanders. 0.0001m/s / 10us = 10m/s/s, or about 1g. Neglecting air resistance, he could push the train through the sound barrier in just 35 seconds as measured by the train. However, as measured by the speedy dude doing the pushing, he would need to push for 35 seconds times the factor of 100000 time dilation, which works out to 40 days of pushing. I can't hold my breath for 40 days.

He could increase the time dilation to 10000000, and that would cut the time to reach the sound barrier to just .35 seconds as measured by the train, but from his perspective it still takes him 40 days of pushing to impart that impulse to the train. Assuming that this intuition carries over to things that are harder to calculate, like smashing walls, time dilation buys him time to do incredible things, but it doesn't let him do those things any more quickly from his own perspective.
Oh, wait, okay -- so, just to make sure I understand, here -- time dilation would let him produce more impulse (smash through a wall by walking into it), but actually transferring his momentum to another object (such as the train) over time would be trickier?

As a sidenote, I intend to severely limit the amount of dilation he can accomplish; 1/10th, or maybe 1/100th. Which means he would effectively multiply the force of his actions (from our frame of reference) by x10 or x100, right?
scarecrovv wrote:edit:

I just realized a neat side effect! Check out the electromagnetic spectrum chart. If he dilated time by 100000, or 10^5, light reaching his eyes from the world should be redshifted (from his perspective) by 10^5. During the 40 days of pushing that the rest of the world would see as 35 seconds, he wouldn't see normal visible light, he would see cosmic rays, and sinister Google projects! Similarly, if he can dilate time in the other direction he could see infra red. But of course he would be super slow and vulnerable while doing this. If he slows down by 10^7 he could see radio waves, but it would take him a year of real time for just a three second glimpse of the radio spectrum. With a little work you might be able to turn this into a cool plot point.

edit 2:

Aww crap. During the 3 seconds of seeing radio waves he'd get a year's worth of IR and visible light energy hitting him as gamma rays. He'd probably die of radiation poisoning almost instantly :(. Shifting time to be super fast to get x-ray vision should be safe though (for him). Also people looking at him will see an opposite red/blue shift. If he gets x-ray vision on everybody else, everybody else gets IR vision on him.
That seems really cool, but at the same time, I don't think the human eye is actually equipped to receive information in those spectrums? I don't even think certain types of spectrums can get through the lens of the human eye, if I recall? Or would the process of time 'compression' let him treat those waves like standard light waves, thereby seeing them as colors?

Either way, I'm not planning on having him dilate/compress time beyond a hundredfold. It is something cool I hadn't thought about, though (the ability to compress time, versus dilating it), and it's something I think I would like to incorporate. The big issue that springs to mind, though: When he dilates time, everyone around him is made of wet cardboard; when he compresses time, he's made of wet cardboard (because the momentum of everyone around him suddenly increases!). So if you even touch him, he might explode.
Neil_Boekend wrote:It is caused by the Doppler effect and that is quite observable when an ambulance drives by. No space stretching required.
Okay; that's something else I probably need to read up a little on!

Two other things I'm struggling with: How would sound be effected, and how would friction work (would he generate enormous amounts of friction? Considering that from his perspective, everything has reduced momentum... but they act as if his momentum is ridiculous -- from his perspective, everything is just *fragile*).

EDIT: When he compresses time, everyone else's velocity increases, but no one explodes into flame. So, obviously, he doesn't change how friction works; he just shifts the frame of reference in regards to velocity, but in the 'universal' frame of reference, friction still works precisely like it's expected to. So, when he dilates time, he creates friction via the universal frame's rules. So while the impact of a bullet while he's dilating at x100 wouldn't hurt him (it'd be treated like it was moving x100 slower), that impact would still generate friction.

If he ran into the bullet -- going 15 mph from his frame of reference -- from the bullet's frame of reference, he'd hit it at 1500 miles per hour. The bullet would pancake, but it might also generate a flash of friction, which means that even as he watches it flatten harmlessly, it might suddenly (very slowly) *melt* during impact, splattering hot, molten lead against him (which would hurt, 'cuz he's not immune to heat or anything). But if he stayed still -- the bullet would hit him at its normal rate, which (I presume) isn't fast enough to melt the bullet. Does that make sense?

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby PeteP » Sun Mar 22, 2015 8:21 pm UTC

Am I understanding it right that every force has an equal and opposing force is not a thing with his super power? Imagine him punching a wall, from the outside he moves super fast so he impart much force on the wall but only as much force acts on him as if he normally punched a wall? And if only he and a stone existed floating in nothingness he could change the center of mass of the system? (Because he can practically generate extra momentum.)

(Btw how does it interact with gravity, in free fall does he fall at normal speed from the perspective of the outside world or from his? If from the outside world that has weird effects when he is moving with his powers active. For instance going down stairs relies on being pulled down, without pushing/pulling yourself down you can't go down a stair faster than free fall speed. And when running normally you impart a significant force downward, if he ran the same way it would be like running in low gravity. And I think lower gravity limits the running speed? Because it limits how hard you can push down, which limits the friction with the ground which limits how hard you can push yourself forward from the ground. But ask someone better with physics about that.)

Btw does the effect work on things he hold, could he create strong winds with a big fan?

If he too a relatively heavy ball on a chain secured to him and let's say went into 20X mode and threw it upwards going Y km/h from his perspective. When the chain stops it that would impart some upward force on him, if he goes into normal mode before that point the force would be much larger if I understand the model right (except if it slows down too because it's connected to him) so it would pull him upward and probably injure him. But anyway if he ever drifts in space he could use that as a form of locomotion.

Btw normal speedsters should be able to run over water with enough speed I assume that is the case here to or does the physic breaking nature of the power mess with that? I don't think it does.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:53 pm UTC

PeteP wrote:Am I understanding it right that every force has an equal and opposing force is not a thing with his super power? Imagine him punching a wall, from the outside he moves super fast so he impart much force on the wall but only as much force acts on him as if he normally punched a wall? And if only he and a stone existed floating in nothingness he could change the center of mass of the system? (Because he can practically generate extra momentum.)
Yes to the first, I have no idea to the second! But, it sounds like yes.
PeteP wrote:(Btw how does it interact with gravity, in free fall does he fall at normal speed from the perspective of the outside world or from his? If from the outside world that has weird effects when he is moving with his powers active. For instance going down stairs relies on being pulled down, without pushing/pulling yourself down you can't go down a stair faster than free fall speed. And when running normally you impart a significant force downward, if he ran the same way it would be like running in low gravity. And I think lower gravity limits the running speed? Because it limits how hard you can push down, which limits the friction with the ground which limits how hard you can push yourself forward from the ground. But ask someone better with physics about that.)
...that's an excellent question, and something I hadn't thought about. I imagine to him, when he dilates time, gravity acts at a fraction of its expected power; IE, x100 means he falls x100 slower, so gravity 'feels' like it's working at .001 what's expected.
PeteP wrote:Btw does the effect work on things he hold, could he create strong winds with a big fan?

If he too a relatively heavy ball on a chain secured to him and let's say went into 20X mode and threw it upwards going Y km/h from his perspective. When the chain stops it that would impart some upward force on him, if he goes into normal mode before that point the force would be much larger if I understand the model right (except if it slows down too because it's connected to him) so it would pull him upward and probably injure him. But anyway if he ever drifts in space he could use that as a form of locomotion.
Yeah, I see what you're saying here, and I think that -- to correct that -- he can't actually extend his power to objects he's holding. Which means he can't extend it to the clothing he's wearing (so he has to wear special clothes; clothes that can survive clinging to a body mass moving with x100 momentum).
PeteP wrote:Btw normal speedsters should be able to run over water with enough speed I assume that is the case here to or does the physic breaking nature of the power mess with that? I don't think it does.
I think it would be fine, for a lot of reasons. Especially since he doesn't treat gravity as special (if he goes x100 speed, he falls at .001 the normal rate, so he might basically be able to walk on water -- since he would essentially be light enough to float on it!)

EDIT: Actually, I'm not sure; his weight isn't actually .001 its normal force (gravity is acting on him more slowly, not more 'weakly' -- though considering his interaction with momentum I'm not sure if that's a significant difference?). I'm actually at a complete loss to understand how he would interact with fluids (would water essentially be like a solid to him? Because the particles don't have enough time to 'move out of the way'?)

I'm also trying to calculate the effects of drag on him, because friction is an issue for him -- and I'm trying to see if he'd accidentally generate a lot of static electricity under certain circumstances.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby PeteP » Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:50 pm UTC

For clarification: I understood it the following way. When he punches something with a 5x modifier he transfers as much energy into his target as a fist traveling at 5 times fist speed would. But thinking about it you could also mean that he transfers the energy of a fist at normal speed but the energy is transferred 5 times as fast (which is far less powerful). So I wanted to make sure which interpretation was right?

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Tass » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:02 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:...that's an excellent question, and something I hadn't thought about. I imagine to him, when he dilates time, gravity acts at a fraction of its expected power; IE, x100 means he falls x100 slower, so gravity 'feels' like it's working at .001 what's expected.


Almost, but not quite. It is right gravity would get weaker. He sees the bullet moving slowly through the air, not falling down because gravity is weak, not stopping immediately because air resistance is weak. He would be able to jump like the incredible hulk, because to him gravity is so weak, to others his legs are super fast and strong. He would probably leave behind a small crater though.

If he is in 10x mode, then anything he trows (including himself) goes ten times as fast. That actually means a hundred times as far. Lets say he throws a ball at 10m/s straight up. It will be stopped by gravity after one second and have reached a height of five meters. In 10x mode it goes 100m/s instead, and stops after ten seconds, real time, at a height of 500m. In his time this stop took a hundred seconds, thus the gravity he feels is only 1/100th g. Forces scale with the inverse square of his dilation factor. The same goes for every other force, so at 10x every object is a hundred times weaker than otherwise.

If he is going to save some victim by picking them up, then he'd better be careful, but with practice it should be perfectly possible to only use a hundredth of the force you'd normally use to lift a person, especially when the person also only weighs 1/100th as much. After all humans are very dexterous and can handle big light delicate objects. He'd need to practice balancing and moving around in very low gravity, though.

The Doppler effect on his vision etc. I would just handwave away, it becomes very hard to handle realistically. At 10x he'd basically be blind, his visible range would be hard UV, and there is not a lot of that.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Whizbang » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:06 pm UTC

I see this story being a primer on Relativity. I really do.

Some kid reads this story, enjoys the action and cool super powers and interesting perspective shifts. Then years later, he is taught the fundamentals of Relativity and he goes, "Oh! Just like Captain Whatshisface!" and BOOM! he gets an A in the class.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby sevenperforce » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:27 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:I see this story being a primer on Relativity. I really do.

Some kid reads this story, enjoys the action and cool super powers and interesting perspective shifts. Then years later, he is taught the fundamentals of Relativity and he goes, "Oh! Just like Captain Whatshisface!" and BOOM! he gets an A in the class.

I like this idea.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Mar 23, 2015 2:25 pm UTC

PeteP wrote:For clarification: I understood it the following way. When he punches something with a 5x modifier he transfers as much energy into his target as a fist traveling at 5 times fist speed would. But thinking about it you could also mean that he transfers the energy of a fist at normal speed but the energy is transferred 5 times as fast (which is far less powerful). So I wanted to make sure which interpretation was right?
It's the former, I think; he punches you 5x harder, rather than 5x faster (though I'm not sure if there's a fundamental difference?). Basically, if he dilates time and punches you at 10x speed, his fist will go through your head.
Tass wrote:Almost, but not quite. It is right gravity would get weaker. He sees the bullet moving slowly through the air, not falling down because gravity is weak, not stopping immediately because air resistance is weak. He would be able to jump like the incredible hulk, because to him gravity is so weak, to others his legs are super fast and strong. He would probably leave behind a small crater though.

If he is in 10x mode, then anything he trows (including himself) goes ten times as fast. That actually means a hundred times as far. Lets say he throws a ball at 10m/s straight up. It will be stopped by gravity after one second and have reached a height of five meters. In 10x mode it goes 100m/s instead, and stops after ten seconds, real time, at a height of 500m. In his time this stop took a hundred seconds, thus the gravity he feels is only 1/100th g. Forces scale with the inverse square of his dilation factor. The same goes for every other force, so at 10x every object is a hundred times weaker than otherwise.
Oh, okay -- in that case, 100x is ridiculously high, 10x is more than enough to basically do all the stuff he would usually do.

I think I might need to go through the Khan Academy primer on Physics or something for this, though -- because the forces scaling with the inverse square of his dilation factor is something that I don't get or understand (but hopefully I will, after doing some reading!).
Tass wrote:If he is going to save some victim by picking them up, then he'd better be careful, but with practice it should be perfectly possible to only use a hundredth of the force you'd normally use to lift a person, especially when the person also only weighs 1/100th as much. After all humans are very dexterous and can handle big light delicate objects. He'd need to practice balancing and moving around in very low gravity, though.
This is something I'm going to have to read about (how people move in low gravity environments). I think it could be really cool to describe, though. Also, yeah, I see what you mean re: having to just be incredibly careful about how he handles everything. I imagine he can even do things like pluck bullets out of the air -- very gently -- and throw them back to a target -- very gently -- causing them to hit with a similar (or greater) force.

Though, actually, reading about it now -- bullets go at about 1700 mph. At 10x, it'd be going at 170 mph; still too fast for him to dodge or manipulate in any meaningful way. Are you also saying that in this state, the bullet would be relatively harmless to him?
Tass wrote:The Doppler effect on his vision etc. I would just handwave away, it becomes very hard to handle realistically. At 10x he'd basically be blind, his visible range would be hard UV, and there is not a lot of that.
I think it might be cool for him to actually have a set of goggles designed to feed him information about his environment, somehow? Though whatever mechanism they used to read his environment would have to be fast enough to keep up with him.
sevenperforce wrote:
Whizbang wrote:I see this story being a primer on Relativity. I really do.

Some kid reads this story, enjoys the action and cool super powers and interesting perspective shifts. Then years later, he is taught the fundamentals of Relativity and he goes, "Oh! Just like Captain Whatshisface!" and BOOM! he gets an A in the class.

I like this idea.
That would be tremendously cool, but it requires me to have at least some vague understanding of Relativity. xD

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Whizbang » Mon Mar 23, 2015 2:56 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
sevenperforce wrote:
Whizbang wrote:I see this story being a primer on Relativity. I really do.

Some kid reads this story, enjoys the action and cool super powers and interesting perspective shifts. Then years later, he is taught the fundamentals of Relativity and he goes, "Oh! Just like Captain Whatshisface!" and BOOM! he gets an A in the class.

I like this idea.
That would be tremendously cool, but it requires me to have at least some vague understanding of Relativity. xD


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Last edited by Whizbang on Mon Mar 23, 2015 3:14 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Mar 23, 2015 3:13 pm UTC

Aledgedly Richard Feynman wrote:If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics.

So not fully understanding quantum mechanics isn't a wrong place to be.
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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby SDK » Mon Mar 23, 2015 3:21 pm UTC

Well, relativity is slightly less confusing than quantum mechanics.
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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Mar 23, 2015 3:53 pm UTC

Oh, cool -- thank you for the links! I'll watch these videos when I get home!

EDIT: Also, I'm trying to figure out if dilating time would result in his body treating our atmosphere as if it was significantly thinner -- as in, he'd have to deal with the problem of low atmospheric pressure on the human body, because now the atmosphere's 'downward momentum' is only a fraction of what it was. Does that make any sense? Basically, what I'm asking is -- is pressure the same as momentum? And if so, does dilating time in this way carry the consequence of reducing pressure by reducing momentum?

EDIT-EDIT: By the way, part of the premise behind this idea is figuring out a way to consolidate super-speed down to a single power, rather than a bunch of interrelated powers (like being able to just 'ignore' friction, etc), and trying to figure out what some of the interesting consequences of that consolidation would be.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Mar 24, 2015 10:41 am UTC

I watched the videos, and they've given me a bit to think about (although I don't think she'll be reaching speeds that make any of these situations typical -- but the description of simultaneous events not being simultaneous in different frames of reference is pretty cool!).

I plan on reading up on some basic physics stuff so I have at least a vague comprehension of what's going on. Meanwhile, I've found a few interesting / terrible consequences of dealing with super-speed this way:

  • Since she basically 'reduces' gravity for herself, she'll suffer from the same problems astronauts suffer from constant exposure to low gravity environments -- unless she regulates her exposure very carefully.
  • Presuming atmospheric pressure is treated similar to momentum, since her power reduces momentum in her frame of reference, at x10 speed, she'll be operating at around 10 kPa at sea-level -- above the Armstrong limit. But if she tries to use her power in areas of low atmospheric density, she might sink below the Armstrong limit, at which point the water in and on her body will proceed to boil. Depending on how bad it gets, she might also start to swell.
  • As Tass pointed out -- to my best understanding, if she's reducing time by a factor of 10, that changes the frequency of all incoming light by a factor of 10, which means -- yeah, she's basically going to be blind (treating all incoming light as UV stuff) unless I either hand-wave it or figure out some sort of weird alternate solution. ALTHOUGH, she'd also treat a chunk of infrared as if it was part of the visible spectrum, wouldn't she? So the end result might be a really bizarre color shift.

Also, I imagine that when she moves at 10x speed, air 'feels' much thicker -- like she's trying to push through water. Since the molecules are going to be much more slow to get out of her way. I don't think she'll be able to move fast enough to compress air to the point of creating heat, but drag will probably be a problem.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby peregrine_crow » Tue Mar 24, 2015 11:55 am UTC

This thread is starting to make me understand why the answer to everything involving the flash is always "the speedforce did it".

The Great Hippo wrote:As Tass pointed out -- to my best understanding, if she's reducing time by a factor of 10, that changes the frequency of all incoming light by a factor of 10, which means -- yeah, she's basically going to be blind (treating all incoming light as UV stuff) unless I either hand-wave it or figure out some sort of weird alternate solution. ALTHOUGH, she'd also treat a chunk of infrared as if it was part of the visible spectrum, wouldn't she? So the end result might be a really bizarre color shift.


If this actually ends up shifting her vision into IR then she's mostly good for seeing shapes as most objects give off a fair amount of low IR radiation (still out of luck on colors though, hope you weren't planning on using your powers for speed reading). From what I understood from the comments above though, it would be the other way around, visible light is shifted into infrared and ultraviolet light becomes visible. UV light is much less useful to navigate by.
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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:14 pm UTC

peregrine_crow wrote:This thread is starting to make me understand why the answer to everything involving the flash is always "the speedforce did it".
YES.

(But I still think it's really cool to have a speedster who actually has to deal with all the consequences that comes with being super-fast.)
peregrine_crow wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:As Tass pointed out -- to my best understanding, if she's reducing time by a factor of 10, that changes the frequency of all incoming light by a factor of 10, which means -- yeah, she's basically going to be blind (treating all incoming light as UV stuff) unless I either hand-wave it or figure out some sort of weird alternate solution. ALTHOUGH, she'd also treat a chunk of infrared as if it was part of the visible spectrum, wouldn't she? So the end result might be a really bizarre color shift.


If this actually ends up shifting her vision into IR then she's mostly good for seeing shapes as most objects give off a fair amount of low IR radiation (still out of luck on colors though, hope you weren't planning on using your powers for speed reading). From what I understood from the comments above though, it would be the other way around, visible light is shifted into infrared and ultraviolet light becomes visible. UV light is much less useful to navigate by.
Wait, is this true? If she's slowing time down, that means wavelengths will get longer; visible light would 'lengthen' into UV, and shorter wavelengths (like IR) would 'lengthen' into the visible spectrum. Unless I'm misunderstanding something?

By my (probably very crappy) calculations, she'd land somewhere in 4-7 micrometer territory, which means -- mid-wave length infrared. Which is usually used to handle perceiving things at really high temperatures (like rocket plumes), so that might be a problem...? But if she can see basic shapes, she should be fine.

(I'm a little worried that this would increase the ionizing radiation she's subjugated to, though, since it would bump all the wavelengths up by a factor of 10...)

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby jaap » Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:34 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Wait, is this true? If she's slowing time down, that means wavelengths will get longer; visible light would 'lengthen' into UV, and shorter wavelengths (like IR) would 'lengthen' into the visible spectrum. Unless I'm misunderstanding something?

Infrared has a longer wavelength (lower frequency) than visible light, ultraviolet has a shorter wavelength (and higher frequency).

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:44 pm UTC

jaap wrote:Infrared has a longer wavelength (lower frequency) than visible light, ultraviolet has a shorter wavelength (and higher frequency).
Oh, okay, nevermind; I misunderstood -- the frequency would be reduced, causing her visible spectrum to shift over into the UV spectrum.

She might need to carry a big UV light wherever she goes.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Neil_Boekend » Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:50 pm UTC

To see what happens with the light I need to view it from a frequency point of view. Not from a wavelength point because that doesn't work.
Visible light has a frequency of 430–790 THz. IR has a lower frequency, UV has a higher frequency.
If she speeds up by a factor 10, the speed of everything around her slows down by a factor 10 (from her POV). Thus the frequency of the light is divided by 10.
All light light we see now seems in the range of 43-79 THz for her. It's firmly in the IR spectrum, and thus invisible to her.
What she can see is the light that normally is in the range of 4.3 to 7.9 PHz. That light is considered EUV light.
Problem is: there isn't much EUV light available. It ionizes air so any decent source gets it's energy absorbed in a really short distance. The sun puts out a lot but that all gets absorbed in the ozone layer. She'd be stumbling in the dark.
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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Whizbang » Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:54 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote: She'd be stumbling in the dark.


That never stopped DareDevil.

'Course, he could also hear what was happening around him. This speedster timey-wimey chick wouldn't be able to hear anything either. She's going to have to get extra good at holding an image of her surroundings in her brain.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Mar 24, 2015 1:00 pm UTC

If she can adjust the dilation on-the-run, she can shift the spectrum she can see pretty organically; move from EUV down to the more 'visible' types of UV? It'd be really weird for her, probably -- vision fading in and out as she goes -- but it'd be one way for her to 'see' until she has the means to produce a set of goggles that can provide her a means to visually understand her environment?

I'm struggling to understand what her environment would look like at these extremes; would she still see colors? Would all the colors be in a constant state of flux as she changes her dilation, thereby changing the frequency of light they're emitting? And distant objects would 'vanish' in a meaningless haze as she gets closer and closer to the extremes of 10x dilation?

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby PeteP » Tue Mar 24, 2015 2:02 pm UTC

I guess if the right light were there she would see in color. About technology solutions, If they are included in her effect then thermography could shift visible light back I guess. (If they aren't included in her effect then you would need something that goes in the other direction.)

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby peregrine_crow » Tue Mar 24, 2015 2:02 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:(But I still think it's really cool to have a speedster who actually has to deal with all the consequences that comes with being super-fast.)


Oh yes, definitely, this is a really interesting thread so far :D

The Great Hippo wrote:I'm struggling to understand what her environment would look like at these extremes; would she still see colors? Would all the colors be in a constant state of flux as she changes her dilation, thereby changing the frequency of light they're emitting? And distant objects would 'vanish' in a meaningless haze as she gets closer and closer to the extremes of 10x dilation?


She should definitely still see colors (at least as long as she still sees the relevant part of the visible spectrum) they just get mapped to another color.

There is a small game that let's you walk around in a world that has a slower speed of light (link). The colors get completely out of wack, but you can still orient yourself pretty easily. It is not exactly the same effect because the movement of your speeder won't influence her vision, but it should give you an idea.
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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Mar 24, 2015 2:22 pm UTC

PeteP wrote:I guess if the right light were there she would see in color. About technology solutions, If they are included in her effect then thermography could shift visible light back I guess. (If they aren't included in her effect then you would need something that goes in the other direction.)
Though I aesthetically dislike the idea of including other objects in her field of effect, I think it's a necessity -- the goggles would need to be adjusted to her current dilation, though (which means that for a moment, she'd be blind; she'd have to turn a dial to get the goggles to 'read' her current dilation correctly).
peregrine_crow wrote:She should definitely still see colors (at least as long as she still sees the relevant part of the visible spectrum) they just get mapped to another color.

There is a small game that let's you walk around in a world that has a slower speed of light (link). The colors get completely out of wack, but you can still orient yourself pretty easily. It is not exactly the same effect because the movement of your speeder won't influence her vision, but it should give you an idea.
Oh, hey -- thanks! The game's video really helped me visualize some of what would be going on (though I'm still working on figuring out at what point her vision would 'shrink' as she dilated time more and more -- as she plunged deeper into the UV spectrum, hitting the parts that don't last long enough to reach her eyes).

I think my major concern regarding the color-mapping is that I'd describe arbitrary color mappings, when the mappnigs may not, in fact, be arbitrary at all -- but actually figuring out what colors should map to what seems like a herculean task.

EDIT: Also, all the talk about physics stuff has made me think that a great villain for her would be another speedster who is actually a legitimate physicist/astrophysicist, and knows how to use their increased momentum to do incredibly terrible, messed up things.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby peregrine_crow » Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:49 am UTC

Something else to consider is that, while the speedster herself feels like she weighs 10x less than her actual weight, to the rest of the world it looks like she weighs 10x as much. I'm sure the internal structure of most buildings can handle weights much higher than this, but a lot of stairs and certain types of floors probably aren't designed for ~700kg applied to the surface area of a human foot. Even if she isn't superman-jumping over buildings she's going to have to be careful about where to activate her powers.

A potentially larger problem is how to deal with existing velocity. If our speedster is standing on a train and activates her power I think she would be shot forward at 10 times the train's current speed. This could be cool if the speedster is aware of it and uses it, but it implies rather nasty things considering that the earth (and by extension everyone on it) also moves around the sun at rather ridiculous speeds.
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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby PeteP » Wed Mar 25, 2015 12:32 pm UTC

If the gravity is lower for her that should work out to the same effective weight I think.

Could you expand on what you mean with existing velocity? I don't think activating her powers changes her current speed in relation to the environment just how further accelerations work on her? (Otherwise the speed of the Earth would be the real problem.)

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby sevenperforce » Wed Mar 25, 2015 3:09 pm UTC

Yeah, this is where relativity is going to come into play. Her dilation of time needs to take place with respect to her prior inertial (or quasi-inertial) reference frame, because there isn't any absolute reference frame out there. Otherwise the rotation of the Earth is a problem...AND the orbital speed of the Earth is a problem...AND the speed of Sol in its galactic orbit is a problem...AND the velocity of the galaxy within the Local Cluster is a problem...and so on and so on ad infinitum.

This means that if she dilated time while on a train, it would be the same as if she was standing still. I'm not sure what would happen if she jumped off the train while time was still dilated within the train's reference frame.

Can you put her ability into a system of modified kinematic equations or anything? That would give us a leg up on figuring out the various effects.

The Great Hippo wrote:Though I aesthetically dislike the idea of including other objects in her field of effect, I think it's a necessity -- the goggles would need to be adjusted to her current dilation, though (which means that for a moment, she'd be blind; she'd have to turn a dial to get the goggles to 'read' her current dilation correctly).

Well, on the flip side, how would everyone see her? Suppose she dilates time but stands still. Is the light bouncing off her body frequency-shifted? What about her own infrared blackbody radiation -- will it be frequency-shifted into the visible spectrum? Or will it be shifted in the opposite direction, making her effectively invisible?

I'm fairly certain that the goggles could use some known reference value, like a comparison between the spectrum of sunlight and the shift in her externally-perceived blackbody radiation, to calculate the rough dilation factor and adjust light appropriately. She wouldn't have to fiddle with any dials.

A blind superhero, though...neat idea.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Whizbang » Wed Mar 25, 2015 3:17 pm UTC

sevenperforce wrote:A blind superhero, though...neat idea.


Blind and deaf. Super Helen Keller.

Seriously, some workaround needs to be found for vision, because otherwise altering time will be useless. She'd be constantly bumping into things, and with her magnified strength, someone's going to have a bad time.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Sizik » Wed Mar 25, 2015 3:39 pm UTC

No reason why she can't make frequent drops out of super speed to get a momentary glimpse of her surroundings. Somewhat like a tiger beetle
gmalivuk wrote:
King Author wrote:If space (rather, distance) is an illusion, it'd be possible for one meta-me to experience both body's sensory inputs.
Yes. And if wishes were horses, wishing wells would fill up very quickly with drowned horses.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Tass » Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:05 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Though, actually, reading about it now -- bullets go at about 1700 mph. At 10x, it'd be going at 170 mph; still too fast for him to dodge or manipulate in any meaningful way. Are you also saying that in this state, the bullet would be relatively harmless to him?


Way too fast to catch, yes. It would carry one hundredth of the energy, and be unlikely to be lethal. Getting hit would still hurt like hell, though.

You'd have to go to 100x to be able to catch and throw bullets. At that dilation they'd be moving at 17mph, that would be quite catchable. At 10000 times the strength in his hand, the metal would feel quite soft, she'd easily deform the bullet if not careful, but it would be possible to catch and throw back. Most bullets are quite sturdy, they can survive being accelerated to that insane speed over the course of a gun barrel, and they can survive relatively intact stopping in centimeters after hitting something, thus they can survive the same forces by her hands. Of course, no reason to throw a caught bullet, really, when any hard object would do.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Mar 25, 2015 5:32 pm UTC

peregrine_crow wrote:Something else to consider is that, while the speedster herself feels like she weighs 10x less than her actual weight, to the rest of the world it looks like she weighs 10x as much. I'm sure the internal structure of most buildings can handle weights much higher than this, but a lot of stairs and certain types of floors probably aren't designed for ~700kg applied to the surface area of a human foot. Even if she isn't superman-jumping over buildings she's going to have to be careful about where to activate her powers.
PeteP wrote:If the gravity is lower for her that should work out to the same effective weight I think.
My intuition agrees with PeteP, but I'm not a physicist so I don't know? It would be really cool if her weight increased from the world's perspective, making her fall through buildings and stuff (very slowly!), but I'm going to have to read about some physics stuff to figure it out?
peregrine_crow wrote:A potentially larger problem is how to deal with existing velocity. If our speedster is standing on a train and activates her power I think she would be shot forward at 10 times the train's current speed. This could be cool if the speedster is aware of it and uses it, but it implies rather nasty things considering that the earth (and by extension everyone on it) also moves around the sun at rather ridiculous speeds.
I'm not so sure about this; I'm not a physicist, but couldn't she just carry her current frame-of-reference re: momentum with her? Or in other words, if I throw her at a wall, and she dilates time mid-air, it isn't like she sees herself continuing toward the wall at the same speed -- suddenly, she slows down, 'suspended' in mid-air as she slowly floats toward it. She can move at her 'regular speed', now, but she's still subject to the forces acting on her pre-shift. She's 'carrying' her pre-shift momentum with her, she just perceives it differently. Similarly, if she's on a moving train and 'shifts', she's still moving with the train -- her perception of its motion has just changed radically. Does that make sense? Or am I screwing this up?

(Also, this has given me the idea of a cool name for her: 'Shift')
sevenperforce wrote:Can you put her ability into a system of modified kinematic equations or anything? That would give us a leg up on figuring out the various effects.
I'd love to do this but I don't know anywhere near enough about physics to do it. I'm going to try and get a better grasp on physics over the next few weeks, though (I have reading material!) to see if it's something I can actually do.
sevenperforce wrote:Well, on the flip side, how would everyone see her? Suppose she dilates time but stands still. Is the light bouncing off her body frequency-shifted? What about her own infrared blackbody radiation -- will it be frequency-shifted into the visible spectrum? Or will it be shifted in the opposite direction, making her effectively invisible?
I think that the light bouncing off of her will not be shifted -- but if she (or her archnemesis, the Professor) ever discovered a way to 'shift' things outside of them, it would be amazingly awesome to use their powers to shift things like light and matter -- and create all sorts of bizarre effects (kind of akin to how the Flash uses 'vibrating molecules' to accomplish all sorts of bizarre weirdness).
sevenperforce wrote:I'm fairly certain that the goggles could use some known reference value, like a comparison between the spectrum of sunlight and the shift in her externally-perceived blackbody radiation, to calculate the rough dilation factor and adjust light appropriately. She wouldn't have to fiddle with any dials.

A blind superhero, though...neat idea.
Fair enough, yeah -- I was thinking earlier after I mentioned the dial that there's probably a number of ways to make the goggles 'self-adjusting' with her dilation.

Re: Blindness, it would be awesome to have her just be blind, right off the bat -- so she's used to figuring out her environment based on other cues anyway. That being said, though, my reason for not making her blind (or her powers blinding her) is largely selfish: I really love describing interesting things, and the chance to visually describe a bizarrely color-mapped world (and the effect of the sky going black, followed by darkness swallowing up everything in the distance) is pretty seductive for me. I'd like her to be able to see those things, just 'cuz it would be weird to describe them when she couldn't see them.
Sizik wrote:No reason why she can't make frequent drops out of super speed to get a momentary glimpse of her surroundings. Somewhat like a tiger beetle
She could do that before she gets the goggles, yeah -- or at the very least just 'slow down' enough so things make visual sense.
Tass wrote:Way too fast to catch, yes. It would carry one hundredth of the energy, and be unlikely to be lethal. Getting hit would still hurt like hell, though.

You'd have to go to 100x to be able to catch and throw bullets. At that dilation they'd be moving at 17mph, that would be quite catchable. At 10000 times the strength in his hand, the metal would feel quite soft, she'd easily deform the bullet if not careful, but it would be possible to catch and throw back. Most bullets are quite sturdy, they can survive being accelerated to that insane speed over the course of a gun barrel, and they can survive relatively intact stopping in centimeters after hitting something, thus they can survive the same forces by her hands. Of course, no reason to throw a caught bullet, really, when any hard object would do.
True, yes. :> Also, I like to imagine that at x10 speed, she can actually see bullets zipping past in a blur, and maybe even see the shifting air current behind them (do bullets traveling at 1700 mph leave a small vacuum behind them? If so, she might see their 'air trails', ala the Matrix).

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed Mar 25, 2015 5:50 pm UTC

If she is called Shift would an event where she got stuck be Caps Lock?
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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:20 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:If she is called Shift would an event where she got stuck be Caps Lock?
...

...

...

I'm stealing that.

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Re: Super-Powers (Super-Speed!)

Postby Tass » Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:32 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote: (do bullets traveling at 1700 mph leave a small vacuum behind them? If so, she might see their 'air trails', ala the Matrix).


In water definitely. In air, no, nothing visible.

There are plenty of photos of bullets in flight


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