It’s annoying when someone who has never taken a Physics 101 course tries to make a sci-fi movie. Case in point is the new X-men movie – X-men first class. Let me explain.
My first problem is with Magneto. He is the superhero who can change himself into a magnet and pull or push things that are made of iron, or other magnetic materials at his will. All that is acceptable. What’s not acceptable is when he pulls a whole submarine out of the ocean. Even if we assume that somehow he is able to muster enough magnetic strength into his body to significantly move such a heavy object against the strong pull of gravitation, my problem is this – what happened to Newton’s third law of motion?
We were taught in high school that forces exist only in pairs called action-reaction pairs. That is to say, you cannot apply a force on another object independently. Whenever you try to do that, the other object will apply an equal and opposite force on you. For example, when the earth pulls us down, we pull the earth up with the same force. It’s just that since our mass is so insignificant compared to the mass of the earth, the force has a visible effect on us but very close to zero effect on the earth. And since we are distributed all over the surface, these already negligible effects cancel each other out to a large extent.
Now if we look at Magneto pulling the submarine out of the ocean with the sheer pull of his magnetic body, Newton’s third law would suggest that the submarine should also pull Magneto downwards with the same force. And since Magneto’s own mass is negligible compared to the mass of the submarine, the effect that you see on the submarine should be negligible compared to the effect you see on Magneto. What I am trying to say is that if Magneto can apply a force enough to pull the submarine out, he himself should fly at an enormous velocity towards the submarine and die within milliseconds of the impact.
You might argue that come on, he’s a superhero and so he can do everything. But the problem with this argument is that he actually has clearly defined powers. His power is to turn himself into a magnet. Honestly, if a superhero could violate Newton’s third law, then this power would be way more impressive than being able to turn himself into a magnet. He should have been called the third law violato or something, instead of Magneto.
My second problem is that dude who could fly simply by wearing wing-shaped clothes and screaming in an ultrasonic voice. In fact, I can’t fathom a reasonable scenario that could lead someone into thinking that these two things were related. The only thing that comes to mind is this – bats emit ultrasonic sounds and they can fly. But really? Is that all that you need to be convinced that you can fly by producing ultrasonic sounds? Human history is full of incidences where someone died because of an attempt at flying without thinking things through. Is this really all they were missing? Scream at the top of your voice while flying? I wonder why inspite of so much advancement in flying technologies, there does not exist a single aircraft that works on this ultra-sonic sound princple. It should be way easier than all that stuff the Wright brothers did! All we really need is a loose sweater and a sonographic equipment from the nearest hospital!