Monday, May 28, 2007

The Silver Surfer and the Sandman

The current Lab Notes column at talks about the science of the Silver Surfer. If you haven't seen the promos, the chrome-plated Silver Surfer hangs ten through the vacuum of space to appear in the new Fantastic Four movie. As fantastic as he might seem, Will McCarthy cobbles together a plausible explanation. SS taps into the zero point energy of the universe to power his board. He (if that's the right term) must be far from human:
Also, what if his skin isn't made of atoms and molecules at all, but is actually some sort of perfectly reflective spacetime barrier, akin to the edge of the screen in an old-fashioned game of Pong? If the Surfer's body is essentially a programming glitch in the information fabric of the universe, it might well be impossible to destroy, at least with the sorts of weapons human beings—and mutants—can bring to bear. Also, if it could reflect gravitational energy as well as photons, that would explain why he's so light on his feet, and it even suggests an explanation for his talent of sliding through buildings without damaging them. I.e., he isn't a solid object at all.
That sounds at least as plausible as a naked man surfing through space.

As a comic book-based movie bonus, check out Pharyngula commenter PaulC's speculation as to how the brain of Spiderman 3 villain the Sandman might work.

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