Where science and tech meet creativity.

So it is premier week and my husband’s Window’s Media Center (his, not mine), is jubilantly happy at all the new material it has to record. We just finished watching the first new episode of one of our favorite shows, Heroes (no spoilers ahead), and I have to say that this voice in the back of my head keeps yelling – Where’d all the energy come from? – every time someone does something extraordinary. I know, I know, how can I set aside my disbelief and get caught up in shape shifting, alchemy, flying, regeneration and all the like and get upset about energy. Well, um… The voices in my head aren’t consistent, ok?

Seriously though, I can sorta kinda get on board with things like regeneration and electric pulses, where the body is doing something some biological life forms can do, but at accelerated rates. The only catch is, generating electricity or regenerating cells requires a LOT of energy, and these folks aren’t using their powers and then chowing down frantically. I have the same moments of broken suspended disbelief with the X-Men and randomly with Jedi. At least Lucas had his Jedi seem to struggle to do things that required energy, and they seemed to get tired using the Force.

Think of it this way, imagine that X-Wing Luke lifted out of the swamp weighed 50,000 lbs (similar to a F14). It would take a little over 222,000 Newtons to hold that thing up! To move it a mere 3 meters straight up at constant velocity would require 666,000 Joules! Excited yet? Well, here’s the sad part: 222,000 joules is the same amount of energy your body extracts from a 160 Calorie can of soda (That’s ~13 ounces worth of Coke-a-Cola). So, if it was possible to convert food energy into pure work without any losses to useless stuff, we could do amazing feats.

But, you are thinking, if it only takes Luke 160 calories to lift that X-Wing, why do I think he should feel starved from the exertion? Well, I don’t think it was a feat that could be done at constant velocity fighting only gravity. There was “friction” from the swamp sucking on the X-Wing and he certainly didn’t move it at constant velocity. I’m betting he easily blew 500 calories on that X-Wing. Give the guy a protein bar!

Part of my annoyance probably comes from reading Marion Zimmer Bradley‘s Darkover books at too young an age. Her characters (in some cases) can do telepathy, build things, heal things, etc, using crystals to amplify their bodies’ electrical fields. After doing stuff, they feel half-starved and power eat like a long distance runner. She got it.

I’m not asking for much. I just want hereos to get physically exhausted from using their powers, and maybe even to do a little carb loading or refer to it as a weightloss plan that doesn’t require exercise. Just talk about energy a little bit please. This one small scientific thing you can totally get right just with a Power Bar or two. (And, to lift a 175 lb male 1000 meters into the air at constant velocity would require 187 Calories if you assume no drag – and there is drag folks. And they weren’t going at constant velocity. These guys need to at least break a sweat).