49 – Breath

coverblackRecorded October 8 and 21.  The breath powers: history, science, and creative implications.

Answers, insights, and commentary on:

  • History:
  • Is super breath its own power?
  • First instances of super breath in the comics
  • First instance of cold breath in the comics
  • Adoption in adaptations
  • Science:
  • How breathing works
    • Basics
    • Applying strength
    • World record techniques
  • Does super breath implicate cold breath necessarily?
    • Extinguishing fire
      • Fire triangle / tetrahedron
      • Vapor as fuel
    • Cooling hot stuff
      • Thermodynamics
      • Cold is not a property
    • Blowing on your hand
      • Unreliable sensation
      • Alternative explanation
    • Gas cooling catch-all
      • Mathematical limitations
      • Absolute Zero
      • Absolute Hot
      • Freezing air
      • Gas heat transfer
  • Creative:
  • Magical Thinking
  • Story reasons for the power
  • Story reasons against the power
  • Is it okay to question stories?
  • Investing in reality for stories
  • Truth catching up to fiction
  • Science in fiction
  • Teachable attitudes and interactions
  • Magic and fantasy another time

…and much more!

Science of Superman (2006) | Warner Home Video
Nonexistent Objects Imaginary Worlds- Crash Course #29
Breathe! | Glenn Wolkenfeld
Great Wakkorotti | Animaniacs
Brian Jackson | Stan Lee’s Superhumans
Circular Breathing | Wikipedia
Only Vapors Burn 1947 Chemistry of Fire | US War Dept.
Liquid Nitrogen Grease Fire | Cody’s Lab
The Physics of The Impossible (2008) | Michio Kaku
First and Second Law of Thermodynamics | Flanders & Swann
Why does heat transfer from hot to cold? | Fact Tap
Substance of Silence | Stuff to Blow Your Mind
How Entropy Powers The Earth | Minute Physics
Misconceptions About Heat | Veritasium
What Is One Degree? | BBC
Why Is My Breath Hot? | Ask Science
Absolute Zero – Absolute Awesome | SciShow
What Does Liquid Nitrogen Do To Your Face | Grant Thompson
The Physics of Heat- Crash Course Physics #22
How Iceman Is Actually a Bomb! | Nerdist
Magical Thinking | Imaginary Worlds
Supergods | Grant Morrison
26 Facts on Family | Mental Floss
No. of questions kids ask daily | Duck Quacks Don’t Echo
Testimonials | Science & Entertainment Exchange
Aesthetics- Crash Course Philosophy #31
Superman The High Flying History (2012) | Larry Tye
Thermodynamics of Love (2009) | David Ng
Negative Temperatures are Hot | Sixty Symbols
Superman Memory Crystals | Physics World
The Science of Superman (2002) | Mark Wolverton
The Science of Superheroes (2002) | Gresh & Weinberg
The Science of Supervillains (2005) | Gresh & Weinberg
The Physics of Superheroes (2005) | James Kakalios
Superhero Powers Explained | University of Leicester

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Twitter: @mosanswers
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  1. Thank you very much Dr. Your analysis on Kryptonite was amazing. Can not wait to “chew my food” on this one.

  2. It’s impressive how you take subjects I think will be uninteresting such as an hour and a half of talking about Superman’s breath and make it fascinating by incorporating science I had never thought about before such as the cold not existing/Ice cubes bit which makes sense but I had never thought of before.

    I started regularly watching at the Kryptonite spear episode which is another episode where you took something minor and making it really interesting by adding science. Listening to your podcasts and watching all the videos on your Youtube account (They’re really good, Superman saves no one is my favourite. When are you going to make more?) changed my view of Man of Steel and made it from a mediocre movie to one of favourite movies.

    It was funny this episode how you’re normally talking about deeper meanings, religion, philosophy and science but this episode you were talking about all those wacky pre-crisis stories (what was the name of the thing Toyman was riding?).

    • Thanks for listening, I wish I could provide you more episodes with regularity. Time is the main reason I can’t make new videos (some technical reasons too, but which could be overcome with time). As much as I enjoy BvS, most of the issues raised aren’t diegetic or easily debunked in a short video. Most of the issues are subjective, essay-type stuff and I’m not much of a visual essayist. What kind of video are you looking for? I, personally, will not do a “Martha” video, for example… but there are already several decent ones out there.

      Toyman was riding a Rocket-Powered Hobby Horse. Basically a broom with a horse-head that you put between your legs to pretend like you’re riding a horse… only this one flies withe rockets!

      • One example of a video I was thinking of was the “BvS has no jokes” complaint. I know you mentioned most of them in one of the podcasts but it would be nice to have a video to show people with examples directly from the movie. I understand if you don’t have time though. It must take forever to do all the crazy levels of research for podcasts and editing for the videos.

        • There’s a pretty good refutation video on YouTube titled “Why You’re Wrong About Man Of Steel” and I think they may even have name dropped Doc here, or maybe a viewer did in the comments section.

  3. Thomas Nording-Groos

    Dear Doc.
    Yeah..a new episode. It’s always a podcasting highpoint to get a new episode from you. The way you analyse and convey your findings is really interesting and entertaining so I just wanted to let you know that all your efforts are really appreciated – and that you have a loyal listener in Denmark. – and yes I’m a Long time fan of Superman – started reading superman comics back in 1975 as a 7 year old and just love to see my alltime hero on the big screen

  4. Unused Squad concept art just surfaced:
    Putting Apokalypse teasers into a Squad film isn´t the best idea but the comic team faugh Darkseid´s army in their 1st appearance. A lot of these early ideas represent the final film fairly well, some less so. I wonder if cyborgs would be as easy to put into a PG-13 film as the equally faceless hordes we got. The artist also has BvS art up:

  5. Something that has just occurred to me: Is it possible that Superman breaths in through his nose really quickly while simultaneously breathing out through his mouth? Would that solve how he is able to blow so much air out despite limited lung capacity?

    • This was the circular breathing discussion. That technique allows you to continually breath out while breathing-in… but because of the speed and volume of air involved it demands Superman’s checks oscillate in a way we don’t see in cartoons, film, or videogames. Additionally, there’s an upper-limit on the air-flow in. The absolute fastest the air can rush in is between a differential of 1 ATM vs absolute vacuum and that has a capped speed.

  6. I really hope they don’t introduce this power into the DCEU. I find it basically weird and would break some of the grounded setting. The introduction of magic and magic items is already enough to push out of the grounding established in MoS, so I really want it limited. Visually Snyder did a great job in hinting at Superman’s flight, but freezing breath is too much. I also think it complicates story points the larger range of powers you introduce. For example, if Flash can time travel at will that basically ruins all story lines, but if it takes particular conditions and is very hard to control than that’s fine. If Superman can simply cold breath everything with force than enemies are pretty much just cannon fodder to him, which they sort of are anyway.

    • I lean towards not wanting to seeing it but tolerating it if it ultimately shows up. Characters like Flash or Zatanna are very difficult to write rigorously consistently for long periods of time. They almost always ultimately break their own rules eventually, shifting the story to a more fantasy lens.

      At that point, I view Superman as joining a fantasy story so I’m less concerned about his own internal consistency. I like the fact Superman can play in both worlds and ways.

      • I feel like the DCEU isn’t trying to show the DC characters in a realistic universe but rather start off as our normal world and slowly become weirder and more comic book-esque as it goes on and more characters and concepts are introduced.

        • Snyder’s intent was to always ask, if they did exist in our world how would the world react?

          Doc, have you thought about expanding on Lex further. There’s so many angles, from his leadership in transforming Lex corp, a deep study into his childhood abuse and how his character and world view formed etc. and how much we know of his parents past and impact on Lex. What are the abominations?

  7. About the loss of Rick Famuyiwa:
    I won´t panic as we might have another tiger sidekick (please be real!) situation. Especially as the film still isn´t in a hot phase, as Ant-man was, and Ant-man was more importantly great in the end. Famuyiwa still set lots of people in place by now, who may decide to jump off, and i am more importantly a fan of his work, so i DO feel disappointed. He was perfect for the job and his description of an edgy film for the youth (the DCEU in nutshell) sounded appropriate. The film may now need to be slightly delayed to give the next directorial voice enough prep time too but third time’s a charm, right? Even Tim Miller walked of DP 2, that was legitimately shocking, so the genre keeps being a rough playground.
    PS: This is a blow to the noteworthy DCEU creator diversity but we need results in the end, so i don´t care about this aspect.

  8. And critics say that Snyder can´t direct, or that these films have no fan-base. Lol. No offense but Nolan´s Batman wasn´t this well crafted and i knew of about half these allegories. More exist too, as the incidental way Clark and Jor-El die, the final Kubrick Stare by Lex or the endless comic homages.

    PS: Gustave Doré is also one of the best artist of all time, study up on him, as even my beloved Berserk pays multiple homages.

    • Love that vid also, Snyder is da man,

    • Someone should send this to Clay Enos who seems very active on social networking and passes on interesting things to Zack. I think Zack would be thrilled that his art history background is being appreciated by people.

    • Many of those where also picked up in Samuel Otten’s Scene-by-Scene Analysis. It’s indeed a very well-made video.

  9. “Young Justice” Season 3 is on the works.


    Still is not clear if it will debut next year or until early 2018.

  10. A very good video. There is another one you may like too.

  11. On the EE of Squad:
    I don´t get why most of the 11 minutes went missing, as it can´t be a ratings thing (the EE is a bit darker though) and the pacing feels about the same too. Squad ultimately remained the same film, yet occasionally important characterization got lost. Comic fans fill the blank on their own, but we are 1 in 10.000. Croc now gained real charterer depth, Deadshot´s classic conflict with Flag is establish better and Harley´s profiling + cruelty makes the anger towards her in the bar scene more logical. Even Katana is now a bit more than a deus-sword-machina for the ending.
    (The original ending had her being possessed at the end. That´s what the trailers hinted at and why it and the connected battle damage Joker scene are gone forever.) Small rumored bits, as Croc vomiting or Boomer being thrown, are now in too and the film is now somewhat rounder.
    My 8,5/10 score stands, but detract 0,5 from the TC, as i now see flaws i didn´t before due to the missing bits. I now also prefer Squad to the similar Deadpool, as that film had noticeable script issue on 2nd viewing. (When did he get the time to get to know Colossus well in that short time frame?)

    A few cut content theories, as Harley pointing a gun on Joker during a darker chemical birth, have been proven as false with this scene now being reinserted in a different context. That WB “strongly” meddled is now basically disproved too and this is undebatably a David Ayer film. There used to be a different ending battle and the Joker / Harley relationship was changed a bit, as they just tried too much in 1 film. That looks to be all. Even the very original and (over-)ambitious concept art with Enchantress summering Steppenwolf + Parademons instead of making her own army looks very much like the film i ultimately saw.

    Bring on the Gotham Sirens spin-off and a 2nd Squad written and directed by Ayer. He more than understood what makes the comic tick, but a smaller scale / budget + an R would be desired.

    • Do you know where the deleted+alternate Joker “Bye-bye and here’s a grenade!” scene was supposed to fit in? Was it before or after the squad and Flagg went inside the train station and closing in on Enchantress/Incubus? I know that he reveals that he’s alive and ask the still bomb-free Harley to go, but by then Harley has learnt about how dire the situation is and desided to see to the end of it, so Joker setting off that explosion was basically his way of dumping her. Which still makes the ending work: Harley didn’t expect Joker to forgive her “betrayal” and come collect her anyway.

  12. I finally watched the Extended Cut of SS. I do consider that the extra footage did improve the film overall, not by a huge margin but still a better experience overall.

    I do wonder if this is something that the “Justice League Universe” will keep doing from now on: Releasing Extended Cuts after the theatrical run to increase sells. It worked wonderfully with BvS, so we will have to see if SS has a similar success at the home media. Even if the Extended Cuts become the trademark of DC Films, however, I do wonder if there will ever be an Extended Cut of MoS in the near future, assuming it’s still possible at this point, but in any case I do understand that such thing isn’t really necessary.

  13. Hey Doc, its been a long time since we heard your podcast, is another one on the way? Possible topics: Batman’s arc in BvS, themes in Suicide Squad or you diving in to the Wonder Woman trailer, hope to hear from you, I and other fans enjoy your podcast.

    • Hi been busy with other good matters (another kid, promotion, a new semester of students) including a trial that’s temporarily cost me my voice.

      I have about 6 partially formed episodes in the can but can’t seem to bring them to the level worthy of publishing. They’re also heavily villain focused and I don’t want to publish a string of Keefe, Luthor, Doomsday, Enchantress, etc. episodes.

      The other episodes I have in reserve are niche topics like Lex Corp Tower or military protocol or Dia de Los Muertos. I haven’t had time to work on NEW episodes… but I’m at an impasse with a bunch of so-so episodes I don’t want to throw away but I don’t want to publish unless they can be better.

      I’m considering releasing all the above as just a binge-listening “season / series” so you can skip the weaker or uninteresting episodes or not.

      If I had time to do a new episode, I might do “Another Show” meant to capstone the past 50 episodes every time I said, “…but that’s another show” and didn’t address it, just so I have finality on those threads.

      TLDR – I have some old stuff not (never?) ready for release, desire to do new episodes, but no time to do either as it stands.

      • I like the idea of an omnibus/binge episode(s). And I, for one, would love to have some closure on those ‘that’s another story’ elements. But, all in due time, of course!

        • Thanks for listening. The weak episodes are OK-to-boring content-wise, but I really don’t like the tone of some so I’m letting them go but going to keep trying to work them into future episodes.

          I definitely have the nagging sense of undiscussed loose threads. I did try to answer them en masse but there was so much set-up and context, it seemed more inefficient than just waiting to address them in a more organic context… so for now, I’ll just try and chip away at them slowly.

      • All of that sounds amazing, I will wait patiently like a stone. Thanks for your dedication man, to help deal with the lack of DCEU material and your wonderful podcast, I started listening to old episodes again. You are truly a God among podcasters. Also my congratulations on the promotion and the new kid!

      • Congrats on your new child!

      • Congrats on everything that is going on for you personally. I wish you the best and I’m sure whatever you have for us next will be amazing just like everything you’ve presented to us so far. God bless and hope to hear from you soon.( No Pressure! ) 😁

  14. Oh that’s fine, take your time and thank you for replying

  15. We don’t deserve you Doc.

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