improbable objects

debochira  asked:

Suppose someone has superhuman strength (specifics: capable of lifting a stone statue 15 feet tall with both hands and minor strain) and they land a punch. What kind of damage would be plausible for the head/jaw, chest, belly, and limbs, assuming the aforementioned body parts are uncovered? I'm initially thinking of outright pulverization and shattered bone, essentially a car smashing into them, but is that too far/little of a stretch?

Well, bone pulverization is a real risk for your character.

There’s a simple solution, but first, let’s talk about strength, and what that means when your character is inhumanly strong.

Even without a superpower, your body is strong enough to tear itself apart. The classic examples are improperly tensed punches, which can do all kinds of horrible things to your hands, and improperly lifting heavy objects, which can tear up your back.

Personal experience has seen both of us do pretty horrific things to our own bodies without needing super strength.

Adding superhuman strength to the mix just exacerbates this. Your character can lift a statue, but it will do horrific things to the weakest structural point on their body. This is not a function of lacking the strength to lift it; it’s the result of their spine being strained beyond its breaking point.

One really good example is, if you have a character with cybernetic arms, you need to anchor those to their spine, reinforce that and their legs, or they’ll be able to rip their own arms off by picking up a car.

If you can throw a punch with sufficient force to send a midsize sedan flying, you will break every bone in your hand, (and possibly shatter your arm.) Even using proper techniques. Your body simply isn’t built to handle that kind of force. Also, it’s not going to send the car flying, I’ll come back to that in a minute.

The simple solution is to also make your character inhumanly resilient to damage. This has some other considerations. The same resilience that allows them to actually punch someone at full force will protect them (to some extent) from the people they’re fighting.

This isn’t the only possible solution. For example: a character who can reassemble their body on the spot, no matter how mangled it becomes could use super-strength, with the understanding that they’d need to spend a few minutes putting their arm back together after they reduced their foe to goulash.

Without any additional powers, super strength becomes a very tricky thing to use. Your character could still have it, but need to be very careful with how they use it, and pull their punches. Not because they’re concerned about their opponent’s well being, but because they don’t want to destroy their own body.

That said, a character with super strength can literally tear their foes to pieces, if they choose to. Using the statue example, you’re already talking about a character that exceeds the tolerances of the human body to a comedic degree.

So, the simple answer to, “how much damage” is probably, “chunky salsa.”

I mentioned that the car wouldn’t go flying a minute ago, so let’s explain the problem. Your average car weighs around 3000 to 4000 lbs. Your average super hero weighs between 100 and 250 lbs. When your character tries to punch that car, the force will go both ways, and the relative masses become far more important than how strong your character is to determining who will win. With proper bracing, they can probably kick the car a few feet, but without something to brace against that extra strength doesn’t translate into airtime when you’re tossing around improbably large objects.

This doesn’t mean your character would throw a punch at a car, and go flying in the opposite direction (they’re far more likely to find their hand embedded halfway into it, because the force has to go somewhere), but it does mean they’re not going to be able to use a ’57 Chevy as an improvised club.

Again, this is something that characters who can flat out violate the laws of physics can get away with. A character who can rechannel kinetic energy, or lock themselves into their environment, can start to fundamentally mess with how mass behaves. They’re not a 150lb guy grabbing a car; they are a 150lb guy who is functionally fused into the city street, tossing around a car. Also a character who can alter their own effective mass on the fly could lead to some really absurd Berserk like combat sequences.

Alternately, you can have characters that pick up the car, try to throw it, and send themselves flying in the opposite direction. It’s not exactly realistic, but there’s comedic merit to the approach.

So, the basic advice for this is, study some basic physics, and have fun with the absolutely insane things you never thought of before.


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You know, in terms of sheer entropy-defying, order-creating, “just run physics and improbable things will happen” weirdness, plants are pretty impressive.

Like, humans are the undisputed champs, no question. If you Just Run Physics™ on a human you will get hilariously improbable objects popping up out of nowhere, things like birthday cakes and skyscrapers and epic poems and Large Hadron Colliders. And this is kind of mind-blowing - a testament to the power of whatever the heck intelligence is.

But plants are no slouch either. If an animal wants a complex molecule like a protein or a carbohydrate, well, no problem - there’s plenty of them floating around that it can just eat. But a plant? No such luck. If a plant wants a complex molecule it has to freakin’ synthesize it from scratch. And the way it does that by taking in CO2, stripping off the carbon, and then building up whatever complex molecule it wants carbon atom by goddamn carbon atom. And it’s not like it just has to do this for a few specialty molecules - the entire freaking plant is made out of those complex carbon molecules.

The next time you see a tree, remind yourself that it started off as a tiny seed and then literally built itself out of thin air.


Rashed Al Shashai
Section 11
Press Release

Hafez Gallery is pleased to announce Section 11, a solo show by Saudi artist Rashed Al Shashai presenting a new body of work with a subtly constructed educational undertone. Al Shashai perpetuates his commonly known humorist reflection on socio political matters through a series of mixed media works and installations, ideologically unified despite their aesthetic diversity. A reference to the class Al Shashai teaches at the Faisaliah school for gifted boys in Jeddah, Section 11 unravels as a virtual classroom, where each artwork is a fable offering a moral teaching. Observing the compendium of improbable objects to which Al Shashai lends a new significance, viewers are unavoidably faced with current issues opposing tradition and evolution in the Arab world.

In Shortcut, the artist assembles cover pages of ancient Islamic books and superimposes them with a horizontal LED installation comprised of a straight line and several bifurcating branches, evocative of an airport terminal’s aerial view. With this mixed media piece, Al Shashai alludes to the straight path of goodness - an evidence that should come from our personal reflection rather than from the obtuse compliance with books and publications written millennia ago.

This concept of free will is reexamined through I Choose, a one-minute video showing three white fortune-telling papers on a dark background, enclosed inside a transparent box. The submissive acceptance of randomness is what Al Shashai proscribes here, all the while advocating proactiveness and positive thinking as imperatives for personal achievement.

On the theme of unity, his Islamic World paper etching is a map gathering all Islamic countries into one borderless alliance. Al Shashai transforms the ongoing conflicts into an idealised vision of the world governed by common interests, economic unity, and political harmony.

In Section 11, Al Shashai lays out modern day predicaments and traces a subtle path to their understanding, in an effort to raise the level of consciousness and critical thinking among his students and Saudi youth in general, enabling them to counter terrorist propaganda. Rather than directing the viewer’s opinion, he opens a visual debate leading to an introspective study of the human condition, from past to present, like a lesson of spiritual discernment to finally see the world with an open outlook.