Superman Through the Ages! Forum

Superman Comic Books! => Superman! => Topic started by: Krypss on July 09, 2005, 08:18:12 AM

Title: Superman's Powers
Post by: Krypss on July 09, 2005, 08:18:12 AM
Here's the scientific explanation as to how they work:

The cellular structure of a Kryptonian is similar to that of all humans. However, a certain chemical makeup in the ribosomes is capable of absorbing solar energy and storing it. Once the ribosomes achieve saturation levels of this radiation, they begin to re-radiate the energy in the form of a bio-energetic forcefield. Each individual cell within the field's radius becomes reinforced in such a way that the cells are not only protected from external harm, but internal forces as well. It is this last which is key to Superman's great powers. Since the individual cells are wholly invulnerable, they are capable of operating at levels of efficiency that would destroy normal humanoid cells. These "super-cells" lend an enhancing effect to all bodily systems...muscular, metabolic, nervous, and so forth. The continual absorption of solar energy provides a constant power source for these enhanced systems. Thus, Superman is capable of incredible feats.

His physical strength is greatly magnified by the combination of his more-efficient muscular system and the enhancement of his skeletal system's structural integrity, but is primarily augmented by the sheer force of his solar forcefield. He can lift 150,000 tons with serious effort. The conjectured upper limit of his physical strength is approximately 250,000 tons with great effort, and causing strain damage to himself equivalent to a normal man lifting 500 pounds. Continual exertion will deplete his solar energy, and greatly exceeding his normal lift will drain him more rapidly. At the level of complete solar depletion, Superman can lift/exert no more than 100 tons of weight or force.

Similarly, Superman's enhanced metabolic rate, muscular speed, and nervous system grant him incredible speed. His Kryptonian structure and the solar energy paths that course along his neurophysical structure allow him to react at many times normal human speed. He can read a complete encyclopedia set in seconds, wash a sink full of dishes in the blink of an eye, or run from New York to Paris in a matter of minutes. He can move faster than the human eye can perceive if necessary, but this requires extra effort. His reflexes are quick enough to allow him to dodge incoming automatic laser fire.

Superman's perceptions are similarly rapid, allowing him to see individual bullets fired from high-speed automatic weaponry in flight and outrace them easily. Moving at extreme speeds for extended periods of time rapidly drains his solar reserves. In a full drained state, his reflexes are only sufficient enough to dodge semi-automatic projectile weapons and read the encyclopedia set in under 10 minutes.

Naturally, the basic forcefield effect renders him invulnerable to large amounts of damage. He can withstand a 1-megaton nuclear explosion without ill effect, and has been able to tolerate the molten conditions in the Earth's core with only discomfort. A 40 Megaton nuclear explosion knocked him unconscious for over an hour. He could not, however, survive the conditions inside a star, but can safely approach to within several miles of Earth's sun, probably due to a feedback loop of solar energy powering his bioelectric field.

Superman can easily survive conditions in deep space, but he does need to breathe, eat, sleep, and excrete. Superman can hold his breath for a maximum of 12 hours, and requires 2 hours of sleep a night to function at peak mental efficiency, as well needing to dream at least half an hour a night, or experience the psychological effects of sleep deprivation as would any other person who missed a night of sleep. When his solar energy is depleted, his resistance to physical punishment drops to approximately one-quarter the normal amount. Withstanding large amounts of damage continuously over time will rapidly deplete his solar reserves.

Superman's cells can provoke one another into releasing their respective energy when one begins to threaten the integrity of the other. Because of a certain degree of constant pressure, there is a continuously emitted radiance of the bio-energetic field reaching slightly beyond his body, a sort of aura that protects items near his skin e.g. his costume. The aura also protects Superman's teeth, however his hair and nails are only partially protected due to certain properties they possess. They are invulnerable to fire, however they can still be cut.

Due to the highly charged nature of his solar storage systems, his immune system deals with most normal poisons and diseases quickly and with no ill effect. Radiation and similar harmful energies are similarly neutralized.

The enhanced structure of Superman's sensory organs combined with the increased capacity of his nervous system provides for the greatly enhanced senses. His range of hearing extends from the subsonic through to the point where signal modulation in broadcast communications can be sensed and demodulated into "sounds" if he concentrates. He can distinctly hear soft sounds anywhere on Earth if he is listening for them. He has perfect pitch. He has, on occasion, sat and percieved every sound on Earth as a symphony of a living planet.

His visual reception range covers the entirety of the electromagnetic spectrum. The difference between human and Superman's vision is that Superman has the capability to see a much wider band of the electromagnetic spectrum; while humans only sense a very narrow band of the spectrum we call visible light. Superman can change the spectrum he perceives at any given time, by changing the chemical receptors in the rods and cones of his retinas. He can adjust his photovoltaic detection as an act of will to sense longer wavelengths down to the infrared, and higher energy light, up to X-ray and gamma radiation.

Kryptonian muscle tissue when super-charged with solar-energy, can generate a powerful gravitational field. These fields in combination with Superman's personal bio-energetic field give him the ability to negate gravity, allowing him to fly. When in flight, he's fully suspended by this energy, almost completely repelling earth's gravimetric influence over him. He becomes his own center of gravity, and no longer has to physically leverage against the gravity of whatever planetary body he's on, or any object. By psychokinetically controlling his motion, Superman is capable of Mach speeds in excess of Mach 10 in atmosphere. He can fly to the moon in minutes, but faster than that outside of atmospheric interference. His control of his flight is perfect and he can perform aerobatic feats such as hovering, flying backwards and even lifting great weights while flying.

Superman can use the gravitational fields generated by the muscles in his eyes to produce a gravity lens, allowing him to focus far beyond the range of the human eye. Combined with Superman's sensitivity to light, he can magnify an image a virtually countless number of times. Superman can see through solids objects by using a combination of these telescopic and microscopic visual abilities to see through the atomic structure of an object and focus past it, as a camera focuses beyond the dust on a lens. Certain dense materials, notably lead, obstruct this ability.

Superman has the power to release gale-force winds from his lungs. He can create ice blocks from his breath, as well as freeze objects and opponents. The psionic portions of his powers are made evident by these depictions. The only way for objects to freeze is if their molecular composition slows down in motion at an incredible rate. The application of intense winds from Superman's breath is actually not sufficient to freeze things. Since Superman can agitate molecules to increase in motion, he can do the reverse. He is using the same effect that amplifies converted solar energy in reverse. He is using it as a catalyst to access higher-order energies through an unknown physical mechanism. That same amplification mechanism is reversed to dampen or neutralize energies in the environment to produce freeze breath. Additionally, his vast lung capacity is not physically possible given the dimensions of the humanoid physique. However, his super-breath includes tesseract type properties.

Superman has the ability to expel stored (solar/electromagnetic) internal energy in the form of focused beams of radiation from his body. The energy manifests as visible crimson beams emitted along his line-of-sight from his corneas, which also turn glowing red. He emits light along various frequencies in high-energy bursts that flash-melts materials in seconds, weaken structural integrity over a smaller area, such as melting the barrel of a gun but leaving the handle untouched. Superman can control his heat vision and direct it wherever he wants to. He directs it with his eyes.

In actuality, Superman could not emit the directly from his eyes. The energy is actually built up on the surface of the bio-energetic field surrounding his body and emitted from there. This allows his body to be protected from the energy and absorbing stray electromagnetic energy back into his body. Superman's energy reclamation aura is so efficient that any radiation, even those emitted from him, once in the environment are able to be reabsorbed.

The heat beams are psionically controlled and that control is reflexive, so he can shut it off without accidentally damaging anything that he does not want to. He can emit the radiation visibly or invisibly at lower settings. His energy has a high visibility profile if emitted at higher levels.

Both Superman's Kryptonian physiology and the fact that his engrams are stabilized by a solar-frequency hologram reinforcing his neural matrix allow him near-perfect recall of events he pays specific attention to or that have emotional significance or are particularly striking.

Superman is a talented mimic, and can reproduce most sounds that he can hear. He can modulate his voice to transmit on radio or microwave/radar frequencies, and can expel a minute amount of air in space at a warm enough temperature and speed to carry sub-vocalized sound directly to one or more targets.

Superman requires solar energy to function at peak capacity, or his powers fade to greatly reduced levels, some disappearing entirely if his solar reserves are empty. Superman cannot absorb energy from the lower frequency orange O-class stars and cannot process the higher-frequency White K or blue M classes. Blue B and yellow G type stars are ideal.

Superman's body stores and processes solar energy at a rapid rate and for a variety of effects, which are explained in his other powers. His storage capacity is sufficient to let him function at full capacity for up to 14 days depending on his physical condition and state of rest. While under a star of the right class (G-type dwarfs in the blue-white through yellow spectrum are ideal) and within a planetary atmosphere, he replenishes energy at a constant rate.

If forced to expend large amounts of energy over a relatively short time, or to maintain constant exertion over longer periods of time, he tires and his power begins to diminish. Constant exertion will revert him to normal humanoid levels after 14 days without rest. The power recovers at the rate of normal rest, and a full recharge can be accomplished with two days of no more than moderate, normal-level exertion. A process of solar recharge is also known, but requires massive amounts of fusion energy of solar/light-based superpowers.

And, his weakness:

The fatal flaw in Kryptonian cellular physiology is the unique radiation given off by kryptonite. In the minutest amounts, the radiation waveforms and high-energy particles emitted by kryptonite can react catastrophically with the very ribosomal chemical that grant a Kryptonian powers. The briefest contact can strip these powers, and further begin a fatal poisoning that totally shuts down cellular activity in the affected areas.

As kryptonite radiation makes its way through the bloodstream, a Kryptonian becomes instantly weak and ill in its unshielded presence, and prolonged exposure will render him or her unconscious (after 30 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the sample, and the current state of his solar reserves), and will eventually (after two to four hours) reach all parts of his body and bring death, usually as the body's immune system attempts to expel the deadly toxin. However, the rate of recovery once removed from the emissions is as rapid as the rate of damage, and the Kryptonian will be back to normal in under an hour after exposure in optimal conditions. Kryptonite emissions can be blocked by lead and other super-dense materials.

Further, the radiation signature of the red sun of the Krypton system (and similar F-class stars) instantly causes the ribosomal structures to lose their stored energy, reducing a Kryptonian to normal humanoid levels.

I know his costume isn't a part of his powers, but I thought I should mention it:

Superman wears a blue bodysuit complemented by red trunks, red boots, and a long, flowing red cape.  A yellow belt encircles his waist, and there is a highly stylized Superman insignia - consisting of a large red letter "S" inscribed within a yellow shield, which is bordered in red - emblazoned on his chest. The back of Superman's cape bears a similar insignia, except that this one consists of a yellow letter "S" inscribed within a yellow shield bordered in yellow. The costume is made from normal Earth fibers. The body suit is protected by the Superman's own indestructible aura. The cape has no such protection and is often destroyed during the course of Superman's activities.

Title: Re: Superman's Powers
Post by: NotSuper on July 09, 2005, 03:36:16 PM
Interesting analysis of the post-Crisis Superman's powers. However, there have been some changes within continuity in regards to his powers and costume. For instance, Superman's hair IS invulnerable and has been shown to break scissors. And in DC One Million he went inside Sol for a LONG time. As for his costume, it isn't from Earth any more--it's from Krypton again. He still has the bio-aura, but also has a super-dense body.

Did this analysis come from The Science of Superman by any chance?

Title: Re: Superman's Powers
Post by: Captain Kal on July 09, 2005, 05:40:30 PM
This looks to be derived from something my friend Knightshifter wrote about Superman on his own site.  He borrowed heavily from Thaddeus' site and some other sources including some posts/articles I've written on the various forums, not to mention his own take on things.

This is a watered-down version of Knightshifter's work so I believe this poster edited it for his own use.

This is not derived from Mark Wolverton's The Science of Superman.

Title: Re: Superman's Powers
Post by: Krypss on July 09, 2005, 08:00:44 PM
Quote from: "Captain Kal"
This is a watered-down version of Knightshifter's work so I believe this poster edited it for his own use.

Dude, this is a conglomerate of various stuff I've found on the internet. As to this "Knightshifter", could you please tell me his or her address. I'm interested in seeing this person's website.

Title: Re: Superman's Powers
Post by: MatterEaterLad on July 09, 2005, 08:37:54 PM
Well, its one take at one particular time as to the "scientific" explanation of Superman's powers...

I kind of liked the evolutionary aspects of them, rather than the re-writes with specifics as to "lifting power rating" and such rot...

Title: Re: Superman's Powers
Post by: RedSunOfKrypton on July 11, 2005, 10:51:38 AM
The relatively recent Superman 217-218 (I forget which actually) has text from the POV of Lois Lane that hints Superman no longer has his aura.

As to Knightshifter's article, it can be found here:

Title: Re: Superman's Powers
Post by: Captain Kal on July 11, 2005, 12:52:22 PM
But the Chuck Austen Action Comics run preceding Verheiden's work on Superman that you mentioned but clearly Post-BR strongly suggested Superman still had his aura as his costume was ripped-up when his powers were reduced by liquid kryptonite.