Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Flash Facts: Straw in a Hurricane

"When Barry Allen had been the Flash they had always said he could run through anything like a straw, driven by a hurricane, could penetrate an oak tree. But they never said what happened to the straw." --Lois Lane, The Flash (v.2) #24

I can't stop watching Mythbusters. It doesn't matter how often it's on or how many times I've seen the episode. I'm hopelessly engrossed. Why post my confession here? Tonight in the regular Mythbuster's timeslot they'll be airing a rerun of another episode with a connection to the mythology of the fastest man alive. Can a piece of straw, driven by the strength and speed of a hurricane, penetrate a tree? That's the question under scrutiny in episode sixty-one.

This particular myth has been repeated many a time in the narratives of The Flash--including the above cited Flash (v.2) #24, written by William Messner-Loebs--in part because the crimson comet himself is able to use his superpowers to penetrate solid objects. After building a rig to propel straw at a palm tree at 320 mph, the world record for wind speed at ground level, Jamie and Adam observe that the straw acheives penetration of only a quarter of an inch. The myth, in other words, is busted. Fortunately, our dedicated hosts take things to the next level and then test materials such as reed and piano wire using the rig, with more entertaining results. Now, if a straw were to be imbued with a bit of acceleration from the extra-dimensional speed force...

The "Deadly Straw" episode of Mythbusters airs tonight at 9:00pm on the Discovery Channel.


Kelson said...

I always had a problem with using that comparison in Flash, though, since it wasn't the speed he used to pass through objects, it was vibrating his molecules out of phase with them -- something completely different, and outside the realm of real (and thus debunkable) science.

West said...

But, did it start out as him vibrating through stuff? I'm guessing (and that's all) that the vibration thing was dropped in there after a few of the right folks raised a few eyebrows.