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Student research helps to settle who the victor of a superhero showdown would likely be

Natural Sciences and Physics and Astronomy students have been using simple calculations to explain the feasibility of the powers behind of some of the most prominent comic book superheroes known around the world.

In the process, to coincide with Superman Day on Sunday 12 June, they have suggested that the best-equipped superhero of all could be DC’s Superman, followed closely by Marvel’s Wolverine, Mystique and Thor, based on their special powers.

In a series of papers published between 2009-2016 in the University of Leicester’s Journal of Physics Special Topics and Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics, student research has determined whether or not the seemingly superhuman abilities used by the famous characters in films and comic books are in fact possible.

The student work suggests that, based on the range of superpowers at his disposal and the only limiting factor seemingly being the planet’s Sun, the ‘Last Son of Krypton’ Superman is likely to be the best equipped to win in an epic clash between all of the studied superheroes, exhibiting a calculated stored solar energy output of 7.07x105 Joules per second for his ‘Super Flare’ attack and having higher density muscle tissue than the average human.

With strongest superhero determined, the student papers also shed light on who the most ill-equipped superhero might be – with a seemingly grim end result for Gotham’s ‘Caped Crusader’, Batman. Though his cape proves to be a vital utility when gliding in comic and media depictions, the student-led research suggests that when gliding Batman reaches velocities of around 80km/hr - which could be fatal upon landing. This inability to perform even the simplest of superhero feats suggest Batman would struggle to get off the ground, let alone save Gotham from the likes of The Joker and Bane.

The students presented their findings in a series of short articles for the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics and the Journal of Physics Special Topics, two peer-reviewed student journals run by the University’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Science and Department of Physics and Astronomy. The student-run journals are designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers.

The student papers suggest that fans can now end speculation as to who the best superhero would be if they were to exist among us, with Superman appearing to be the strongest and Batman trailing behind.

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