December 30, 2013
Stumped for a topic to discuss (see my earlier installment, My Brain Is Stuck: An Autobiography), I decided to take questions from the audience.
R.D. Fraser of Livonia, Michigan asks, “So who IS stronger—Superman or the Hulk?” This is sort of a comparison of the sweetness of lemons versus limestone. The two types of strength, besides being based in dimensional spaces with differing laws of gravity and logic than we are used to (here on Earth-Prime, unprotected radiation usually causes cancer and space aliens do not work for metropolitan news organizations, for example), are differently measured.
When Bruce Banner is excited, his body produces adrenaline, just as with ours. However, due to the gamma radiation in his body, not only is the classic flight-or-fight mechanism activated in his brain, but his body adapts to accommodate this reaction in the form of physical transformation (larger body mass, stronger muscles for either offense/defense or escape—hence those mile-long froggy leaps). His epidermis toughens while his brain, unable to maintain its normal rationality, retreats to a childlike emotional state. As he burns off the chemical high, he eventually reverts back to puny Banner.
Kal-El of Krypton is a solar convertor of sorts. The energy he receives from his Earth’s yellow sun is metabolized by his body into his various superhuman abilities. Perhaps, if he lived in closer proximity to— or even in the body of— the sun, he might attain the Hulk’s pseudo-steroidal appearance and stature. However, though visibly healthy, he appears to be a “normal” human specimen.
Part of the difficulty in comparing the physical strengths of these two is that Superman is a member of a psychic species. His enhanced senses are forms of remote viewing (the “weakness” to lead is his moral subconscious respect for privacy), and his flight, telekinesis. His physical is, yes, tough enough to withstand gunfire but he is vulnerable to both magical and psionic attacks. His ability to move even planets is obviously not a matter of muscle.
A battle between Hulk and Superman is muscle versus mind.
However, RDF, the clincher is obvious: Hulk wins, because green kryptonite, the one radioactive mineral in the DC universe inimicable to the Kryptonian, emits gamma radiation, the green energy radiating from the Hulk’s body. Face to face, Superman loses. And probably dies, depending on the anger level of the Hulk.
If you have a pseudo-science question, be sure to email me. I will do my best to imitate Mister Spock and come up with a pseudo-scientific response!
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