Superhero Science behind X-Men Powers!

By OSC on June 2, 2016 in Featured Experiences, Science Live!, What's New

At Orlando Science Center’s Super Secret Underground Lab, we have been investigating the science behind some of our favorite superheroes and their awesome powers in the hopes of one day becoming superheroes ourselves. Ultimately, we might not become the next Iron Man but we can save the world through science and that’s what the Super Science Show – premiering July 16, 2016 – is all about!

During the Super Science Show, we use super powers to demonstrate science concepts and spark people’s curiosity about science! Since X-Men: Apocalypse just hit theaters, we wanted to share some super secret science behind some X-Men’s powers!

WEATHER – The Science Behind Storm

Super Science Show at Orlando Science CenterStorm’s weather-controlling superpowers allow her to absorb energies and discharge them in the form of lightening! Here at Superhero Labs, we have a machine called a Van de Graff generator that collects and discharges electrons in a similar way in order to create lightning bolts like Storm!

You can even create your own static electricity at home by rubbing your feet on the carpet. When you rub your feet on the carpet you are collecting a lot of negative electrons creating an imbalance of electrons. When you touch another conductive another person, those extra electrons jump from you to them, creating a small electric shock which is an example of static electricity. These powers may not be at the same degree as Storm’s but they sure do electrify your enemies!

In X-Men, Storm’s powers also allow her to simulate the creation of any form of precipitation such as rain or fog, generate winds in varying degrees of intensity even up to hurricane force. She can create storm clouds and disperse natural storms as well. Natural storms are often driven by the movement of warm and cold air, or what the weatherman would refer to as warm and cold fronts.

Here at Superhero Labs, we believe that the key to Storm’s powers may be in the ability to manipulate air temperature. We attempt to duplicate Storm’s ability by combining an extremely cold substance with a hot substance in an attempt to create a storm-esque cloud.

Some superpowers are not meant for indoor play, creating these catastrophic storms requires caution and attention. You don’t want to accidentally create a typhoon instead of a tornado. At the Super Science Show we will work on honing your superpowers and making sure that they create an amazing spectacle and not super nightmare! That way you can use your superhero powers to fight for justice, fun, and science!

To manipulate the weather indoors, we use liquid nitrogen which is so cold that it boils at -321 degrees F. We demonstrate that the cold nitrogen cools the air around it so much that it causes water droplets to come out of the air and turn into the vapor. We also speed up that reaction by adding hot water to the liquid nitrogen all at once which creates very chilly cloud.

PYRO – Set Your Imagination on Fire

Super Science Show at Orlando Science CenterSome superheroes have the unique ability to harness the power of fire.  Fire is typically considered a force that we have little ability to control, but here at Superhero Labs, we use the science behind this superpower to harness the power of fire like Pyro from X-Men.

Pyro is a mutant in the X-Men universe who can control and hold fire in his hand. If any regular human were to attempt this, we would end up with a pretty nasty burn, but we have been studying a substance that would allow an everyday human to have Pyro-like abilities. While this demo isn’t in the Super Science Show, we love explaining it!

The polymer that we work with can soak up hundreds of times its weight in water, creating something of a reverse bubble, where, instead of air surrounded by water, it is water surrounded by a polymer shell. This works because of the high heat capacity of water, which means that it can absorb and hold a lot of heat. Because this polymer has layers of water between layers of reverse bubbles, it forms somewhat of a protective blanket over the surface making it temporarily fireproof. If Pyro’s mutant cells were similar to this this reverse bubble, he would indeed be able to hold and manipulate fire, without fear of getting burned.

At Superhero Labs you’ll learn how our everyday superheroes have to use science with their powers to rescue civilians and use their powers in full force! Enjoy the Super Science Show with admission to Orlando Science Center on select days beginning July 16, 2016. Check the Science Live! Schedule for show times before you visit!


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