Superman, Humans exposed to Super Flight

Say Superman picks up a person and chooses to fly out of the atmosphere with them. Total flight time from when he picks the person up to when he leaves the atmosphere: 3 seconds.

Let’s say Superman’s amazing strength and dexterity can cradle the frail human passenger’s body well enough to keep the person’s frame from collapsing under the sudden acceleration.

My question is about wind resistance/friction … how will the human fare against the flight through our atmosphere which takes, from liftoff to exit, 3 seconds - that sounds like a ridiculously fast trip. And let’s also say it’s not a straight-up flight, but at an angle, because he has a destination in mind and doesn’t care about leaving the atmosphere first.

For another matter, I’ve heard many sonic booms of the space shuttles flying in overhead in my life … what speed is Superman flying at to leave the atmosphere that quickly - and what kind of booms would he make? Or would he be moving so fast he leaves a dangerous wash behind him or some such?

Well, I don’t know the answer, but that’s a LOT quicker than the shuittle takes to traverse the atmosphere. And the g-fores in the shuttle are supposed to be pretty high (and the shuttle burns as it reenters, at a speed which take sit many, many times more than 3 seconds to get to ground). So I’d guess that it would kill a human outright.

If we assume a straight trajectory I get 144,000 km/h, or approximately 120 times the speed of sound.

In comic book terms, Superman has a protective aura about him, which extends to objects and people he is carrying. So they can fly undamaged.

In real world terms, Superman doesn’t exist, so the question doesn’t make sense.

Aha, I guess I was unfamiliar with that power of his, thanks.

I remember another argument a long time ago about the atmospheric disruption caused by someone or something moving near the speed of light (e.g. Superman or the Flash trying to travel through time, for example.)

And then, there’s the famous:
"No Virginia, There is no Santa Claus, and if there were, he’s already dead" argument.

And of course, the whole turning back the earth thing in Superman: The Movie would have resulted in the utter destruction of the earth.

Oh, and I just want to add this because it deserves to live on forever and be linked and re-linked until we’re all dead:
Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex By Larry Niven

He didn’t turn the Earth backwards. He TRAVELLED BACKWARDS THROUGH TIME. The apparent reversal in the direction of rotation was just how it looked from his point of view.

Seriously. I got that when I was TEN.

Actually Skald that is not the intended impression. Yes that’s what i assumed to when first i saw it. That it was showing the classic seventies depiction of superman travelling throug time. E.g. a panel depicting superman hurtling around the planet faster and faster until he breaks the time barrier
But the canon version from the film is that yep he’s turning the earth backwards and this somehow is reversing time. Yes it annoyed me to but that’s the intended interpertaion in the film.

Do you have a cite for that, the director saying so in an interview or something like that? Because there’s no way to get that just from the film itself.

Before he had this ability, he often wrapped people in his similarly invulnerable cape.

Kind of along your theme, I remember reading this as a kid and cracked up. It’s more of an essay type writing and deals with the physics/mechanics of what would happen if Superman boinked Lois Lane.

Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex by Larry Niven

Protective auras. Traveling backwards through time. Women of Kleenex (hey, I’ve been there! :dubious: ). I think I liked Supes better when he laced his boots on one at a time like the rest of us and just went sproingggg from place to place.

How do you propose he does that, exactly? Superman is holding the person, upon whom gravity is exerting a downwards force. Superman leaps up and exits the atmosphere in 3 seconds… even if he shields the person from collision with the air particles of the actual atmosphere, his hands and arms just tore upwards through the bottom of the victim like so much wet toilet paper.

See above, re: the protective aura. Otherwise, Superman would never have been able to catch a falling airliner or similar - the object is not rigid and strong enough to be held up by a single point.

Here’s the script:


](Superman Homepage)

If stuff is sliding uphill, that rather indicates to me that the Earth going backwards is the same deal.

Lots of interesting answers, thanks! I was aware of Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex since the '80s, very amusing.

I guess I didn’t have one specific question, but rather a bunch that sprang from that scenario. The one that got me the most was what happens to a human body when exposed to that atmospheric friction? We’d have to assume that their bones aren’t breaking from acceleration, that Supe’s arms aren’t tearing through the person, etc.

I just want to know: Does the person become
a: chunky salsa
b: ash
c: component atoms, or
d: something else entirely

when exposed to that atmospheric friction? (Am I phrasing the question right?)

So, assuming the person wouldn’t be hurt by the G forces, right? My guess would be that you’d get squashed significantly - probably losing one or more limbs and your head in the process (if your definition allows for that) - before burning up, depending on how fast you accellerate.

If you accellerate infinitely fast, my guess would be that you’d get squashed instantly into a chunky salsa, and THEN burn up.

You know…I have a feeling like a person can be exposed to pretty insane temperatures if its for a short enough period of time. If Superman could take you through the atmosphere fast enough, the extreme heat might not really matter because you’re exposed to it for such a brief period of time that it just doesn’t have time to do anything.

For example, look up the guy who sticks his hand in molten lead.

Agreed - the intended impression in the film is that he’s causing the Earth to rotate backwards and this has the effect of reversing time.

How can we tell? Watch the scene:

[li]Superman zips around the Earth really fast, it slows down, stops and reverses[/li]
[li]Superman slows down, the Earth is still going backwards, as is time[/li]
[li]After he’s rewound it the correct amount, he zips around the Earth again in the opposite direction from before, to make it spin in the right direction again.[/li][/ul]

The extreme heat isn’t the only problem - being exposed to air at mach 120 would tear a person into tiny pieces.