"Science of comics"

Written by Paul Sutter on Monday, 01 August 2016. Posted in From The Desk of...The Chief Scientist

Heat vision? Faster-than-light spaceships? Mutants? Techno-viruses? Spandex?

Comic books and sci-fi movies explore some pretty fantastic concepts, and naturally folks start wondering if those concepts are in the least bit plausible or realistic.

In general, they're not. Biological eyes can't shoot lasers. Nothing can go faster than light. Mutations are generally disappointing. But that's fine. For one thing, there's a relationship between science fiction and science fact: authors will push the limits of known science and engineering, and these stories often excite new generations of scientists and engineers. That's nice.

Plus, comics give us a wonderful opportunity to start talking about science. People often don't even know where to start when given the chance to ask, which is why it's so important to find cultural touchpoints for communicating complex topics. "Could Superman really fly?" is an easy way to start discussing gravity, air resistance, energy, and so many more topics.

I was privileged to host a panel at the recent Wizard World Comic Con, featuring a bevy of experts representing disciplines from biology to economics to architecture, and we had the wonderful opportunity to use comics to do exactly that with a jam-packed audience. Tons of questions, tons of interest, tons of science, and most importantly...tons of fun!

About the Author

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter is COSI's Chief Scientist. He is an astrophysicist and offers a wealth of knowledge about our universe. In addition to his COSI position, Paul Sutter is a Cosmological Researcher and Community Outreach Coordinator at The Ohio State University's Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP).