What can physics reveal about Superman’s strength? What can the villains Magneto and Electro teach us about the nature of electricity? Can electromagnetic theory explain how Professor X reads minds? James Kakalios, author of The Physics of Superheroes (Gotham Books, second edition, 2009) will answer those questions and more in a talk as part of the Wonderful Speaker Series sponsored by WPI's Department of Physics and Society of Physics Students (SPS). Named one of the best science books of 2005 by Discover magazine, The Physics of Superheroes explores what comic books get right about physics, what they can teach us about such concepts as energy, thermodynamics, and solid-state physics, and how they've sometimes outpaced science in explaining everything from quantum mechanics to string theory.
The book grew from the popular course "Everything I Needed to Know About Physics I Learned from Reading Comic Books" that Kakalios has taught since 2001 at the University of Minnesota, where he is a professor of physics. When he is not reading comic books, Kakalios conducts research on such topics as the optical and electronic properties of hydrogenated amorphous silicon thin films and the voltage fluctuations recorded from the brains of rats, resulting in more than 100 papers. He also served a science consultant on the 2009 film adaptation of the graphic novel Watchmen and appears on the Watchmen DVD in a feature that discusses the science behind Dr. Manhattan.
April 14, 2010, 4 to 5 p.m.; book signing to follow at 5 p.m.
Olin Hall, Room 107, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.