Wait, WHAT?

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 @ 12:00 am | Bad Science, What Were They Thinking

I demand to know how this works:

Yeah, that’s right – I can “accept” the idea that the guy can run super-fast or that he has super-fast reactions. I’ll even buy the fun super-science idea of a natural inertial damning field and an immunity to the effects of friction. I’m choking on the idea that somehow his eyes can perceive light faster than the actual speed that light travels.

Suspension of disbelief: Fail.

  • Shiai

    More precisely, his brain functions at super-fast speed (otherwise, traveling as fast as he does, he couldn’t begin to process things like, say, run around that upcoming tree before he actually ran into it). So, more precisely, the writer should have had him say that his brain can process what his eyes see quickly enough to out-race that oncoming lightning.

  • tta269

    “More precisely, his brain functions at super-fast speed (otherwise, traveling as fast as he does, he couldn’t begin to process things like, say, run around that upcoming tree before he actually ran into it). So, more precisely, the writer should have had him say that his brain can process what his eyes see quickly enough to out-race that oncoming lightning.”

    No he can’t. Nothing beats light speed.

  • HellRazor

    You’re wrong, the Flash is faster than light, he is as fast as the fastest speed imaginable times 20 zillion gazillion times infinity. He is so fast he can run across all of reality and get back before he left.

    And his super fast eyesight is just as amazingly fast as the rest of him. His eyes are so fast that he can read books that haven’t even been written yet.

    Accept it, the Flash is just fucking fast, and that’s all there is to it. Your puny notions of speed mean nothing to the Flash. He laughs at your much-vaunted “speed of light”.

  • http://circumstantial.wordpress.com/ plok

    Possible fix: lightning doesn’t travel at lightspeed by a very large margin, and it takes a long and broken path to get down to the ground on top of that…meanwhile the light emitted by a lightning bolt does travel at the speed of light, and takes a straight path. So maybe it is the thing about the super-fast reaction time after all? We would see the lightning flash coincident with the lightning bolt, because both those kinds of “fast” are way too far above our range of discrimination to tell apart from one another. Flash might see the flash before the bolt arrives, though — might see the bolt reaching halfway down to the ground, and realize where it’s roughly heading.

    Best I can do, and damn it that tired me out…

  • Maniac Doc

    It’s hard to accept in a reality like ours, where things work in a fairly predictable fashion. It’s easy to accept in a world where Lex Luthor can MacGyver up a time machine out of random materials found in a prison cell. This is quite possibly one of the less weird things in the DC Universe.

  • George C

    Meh, if you can accept that the Flash can run faster than the speed of light, (and Barry Allen at least, did this all the time – even taunting Dr. Light once about how slow his top speed was -), then you have to accept that Flash’s sense of sight works differently than yours and mine.

  • http://www.jlroberson.org JLRoberson

    That’s interesting given, as I recall, they’ve been saying that running past the speed of light is something Wally could do that Barry couldn’t.

    >>Possible fix: lightning doesn’t travel at lightspeed by a very large margin…

    I quote:

    “However, the speed is normally no more than half
    the speed of light, usually substantially less.

    The process that creates a lightning stroke is
    not light transfer, but is the transfer of
    electrical energy (charge) through
    the air. Much like an electrical cable, the air,
    even though it is ionized, has some resistance
    to charge transfer. The speed of the stroke is
    impeded by having to transfer the energy from
    molecule to molecule along the way, in the process
    literally exploding the molecules into atoms.”

    http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/wea00/wea00189.htm

    The same source indicates however that there is no standard speed of lightning, as it depends on the environmental factors in which the lightning arises.

    However, think about it. Lightning is quick, but not so quick that you can’t see its progress, even if it’s very fast. If that were the case you wouldn’t think of it as “striking,” but more like a jagged beam; you wouldn’t see any movement. It would be instantaneous, but it’s not–close, though.

    So if you can see the movement of lightning with your pathetic mortal eyes, Barry certainly can. Besides, if he weren’t at least as fast as lightning(and remember, unlike jarhead Hal, Barry is a scientist full of Flash Facts), it would be a pathetic joke to have it all over his costume.

  • sezaar

    And the best part is, everybody is having a picnic while there is clearly a storm coming their way:

    “It look likes a storm is coming and some thunder and lightning as well.”

    “That’s ok, we’ll just keep sitting here in this open field, you guys go and sit under a tree.”

  • Menshevik

    I’m reminded of “Homer At the Bat”, where he is surprised by a thunderstorm and reacts by using a piece of corrugated iron for cover and stands beneath the biggest tree he can find…

  • Naryldor

    In fact, The Flash is so f***ing fast he’s got time to spare and explain us all about his superfast vision while the lightning bolt keeps aproaching the tree.

    I love comics.

  • sezaar

    Some time ago somebody made a really funny post about those inner monologues.

  • http://www.myspace.com/thischarmingoscar Rorschach

    Flash never needed to watch film trailers- he already knew what was happening, because of his super-fast sight. Must be quite annoying when watching thrillers. Know the guys, that always scream “I know who’s the killer!”? Flash must be one of them.

  • madwoman

    On another subject, why doesn’t Flash leave those nice boys and their marijuana tree alone? From that angle, the lightning isn’t going to hit anywhere near them. Maybe his super-speedy eyeballs need an exam.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Flash should let the lightning hit those kids. It’s the DC universe after all — they’ll probably get cool superpowers from it.

  • Your Obedient Serpent

    Naked Bunny: well, HE did. Maybe he doesn’t want the competition.

    Everyone Else:

    Yeah, pretty much. Lightning is a lot slower than c, and a normal human’s neural responses are even slower. If Barry’s powers knock his nervous system transmission times up to light speed, that would give him ample time to perceive and react.

    “An endless gallery of statues”, indeed.

  • http://earinthefireplace.blogspot.com Daniel

    Hm. The proximity of “super-fast eyesight” and “the Flash going to the movies” makes me wonder: How does persistence of vision (the phenomena that makes the illusion of motion work in a “motion” picture) work for Barry?

    In a worst-case theory, it doesn’t work for him at all, and watching TV must be a real b*tch.

  • sackett

    Good point, daniel. Tough to imagine…Barry watching a movie should be like us watching an oak tree grow.

  • Dandy

    Those two gay guys under the tree look very cosy…

  • Dierna

    Wikipedia is your friend:

    “In the atmospheric electrical discharge, a leader of a bolt of lightning can travel at speeds of 60,000 m/s (220,000 km/h)”

    That’s like impulse speed man…barely warp 1…so I can totally understand how he can see the lightning before it hit the ground.

  • Maniac Doc

    sezaar says: “And the best part is, everybody is having a picnic while there is clearly a storm coming their way: “It look likes a storm is coming and some thunder and lightning as well.” “That’s ok, we’ll just keep sitting here in this open field, you guys go and sit under a tree.””

    Not so bizarre. Lightning can travel quite a lateral distance. It’s not common, but it happens. For all we know, the clouds are off in the distance and it’s sunny where they are right now.

  • MrP

    This whole discussion reminds me of a Donald Duck comic by Don Rosa, in which Donald gets a bunch of superpowers from a serum. Among them is the ability to run faster than lightspeed. However, when he does so, he discovers that his brain works fast enough that he feels like he’s running at regular speed, while the world stands still around him. Seeing as he aims to run around the Earth, this leads to the realization that to him, running around the Earth is going to take years, even if nobody even notices that he moved from his original spot until he’s back.

    If this is the case for The Flash, then he is truly blessed with the Power of Suck.

  • HellRazor

    “That lightning bolt is heading for that tree under which those youngsters are resting!” the Flash thought as he gave a hearty “thumbs up” sign.

  • Powers

    Dierna: Warp 1 *is* light speed.

  • ouch

    i know… Flash can see lightning bolt MAGNETICALLY!

  • Pingback: Speed Reading: Rebirth Monday « Speed Force

  • http://themisadventuresofcaptainblog.blogspot.com/ chalwa

    Gee Whiz, guys!
    His reaction time is just faster. He sees it first just because he has faster responses.
    The others haven’t noticed it yet because of their normal reactions.
    Light has nothing to do with it.
    He saw it first ‘cuz he’s the dang Flash for dang sake.
    He still laughs at you and your slow reaction time to realize this.

  • HellRazor

    “That lightning bolt is heading for that tree under which those youngsters are resting!” the Flash thought as he gave a hearty “thumbs up” sign.

  • HellRazor

    “That lightning bolt is heading for that tree under which those youngsters are resting!” the Flash thought as he gave a hearty “thumbs up” sign.

  • SteveAsat

    I like to imagine Flash has superfast taste to go with his superfast vision.  Therefore he will know BEFORE YOU EVEN TAKE THEM INTO THE DRESSING ROOM that those pants will look godawful on you.