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Indagare
2013-Jul-12, 06:19 PM
Superman's origins always cause me fits. Yes, I know it's a comic and I shouldn't take it too seriously - but what's the fun in that?

I was reading a couple articles here (http://www.cloisworld.net/other/krypton.shtml) and here (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/11/05/dc-comics-pins-krypton-to-the-star-map/#.Ud94-214lwZ) which got me interested in trying to 'fix' his origin to make more scientific sense.

1) The Sun: The one thing that's consistent, no matter the continuity, is that Krypton's sun is red. Recently, Rao was placed in the constellation Covus as a red dwarf, but in order for Krypton to be habitable it would need to be very up close and personal with it's sun, tidally locking the planet. I think they gave Krypton an orbit of 382 days, which would be in the very non-habitable zone for a red dwarf. Of course, terraforming technology could help make it nicer, but it would need for the life to develop first (unless aliens did it). Is there any way to have a planet like Krypton around a red star that doesn't involve a very close orbit?

2) The Moons: Krypton seems to have had four moons at one time: Xenon (which got booted out of orbit), Wegthorn (which was destroyed and probably ought to have caused an issue with the debris), and Mithen and Koron (which remained in orbit). I'm not sure four moons would work for a world, but two might. Are there any suggestions for the moons?

3) The End: Planets do not implode or explode on their own (as far as I know). Though there have been some attempts to use various doomsday devices to cause Krypton's end (and even more ludicrous reasons for only Kal to escape), I think a better logic is needed. My idea would be to have Krypton's core be controlled by some terraforming technology that minimizes earthquakes and volcanic activity (so that it occurs in a logical, planned way rather than a random one). The terraforming tech is starting to go haywire and Jor-El warns that unless the planet is evacuated they will be doomed as the tech slowly destabilizes the core, causing extensive earthquakes and powerful volcanic activity. The planet doesn't go to pieces, but it ends up looking like the surface of Venus by the time everything's done. An alternative scenario would be to have some rogue planet hit Krypton. Alternatively, the destroyed remains of Wegthorn could be kept in stable orbits by some devices that end up failing/being destroyed and cause a calamity. Thoughts?

4) The Other Kryptonians: Let's face it, the main reason to destroy Krypton is to have Kal be the sole survivor. This usually ends up subverted with any number of other Kryptonian survivors being around, but given the number of scenarios I mentioned above, the planet could be 'destroyed' without needing to have kryptonite come out of it. If the surface of the planet turns into Venus or is pelted by large chunks of a moon, everyone and everything will be just as dead even if the planet itself more or less survives. So, why doesn't anyone heed Jor-el? Why aren't there colony worlds? The Eradicator program was once used, but I don't like it. Instead, I propose that Kryptonians have several colony worlds, including on Daxam and, possibly, Argo. These colonies were made a while back and eventually broke with Krypton, leading to a war not too long ago. This war left the interstellar fleets decimated. The Ruling Council knows Jor-El is right, but there's only one working interstellar vessel left on Krypton and they fully intend to be the only ones on it. So they paint Jor-El as a crazy person, falsify information about earthquakes and volcanoes and take off before the planet gets made uninhabitable. I haven't quite figured out why or how Kal ends up being sent alone to Earth when Jor would have had every reason to make a larger vehicle. Thoughts?

5) The Earth: The resemblance of Kryptonians to humans and the selection of Earth has always struck me as very odd. One idea I had was that the Kryptonians originally came from Earth. My basic reasoning is that the White Martains altered some Earth humans to have super powers, and then guided this civilization. Eventually a war broke out between the Earth and Mars and the civilization used advanced technology to search for somewhere to go and hide from the Martians. They discovered Krypton first, used terraforming to make it more habitable then went there and abandoned Earth. Records of this are kept a highly guarded secret and anyone who finds out usually vanishes. Jor-El did find out, however, and decided to send his son to Earth after making sure it was still habitable. Thoughts?

6) The Powers: I figure even on Krypton they have powers: gravity and kinetic control (self and things touched only so they can fly and mimic super strength and super speed), clairaudience and clairvoyance (for the super hearing, telescopic, microscopic, and x-ray visions), a force field (it surrounds their body and protects them, but it has its limits), and some form of air control through breathing and blast through eyes (because they were made by Martians). These powers can be nullified or altered by special crystals (kryptonite). Thoughts?

7) The Kryptonite: Kryptonite crystals store energy. In pure form they are translucent with a white glow and can be used for data storage and retrieval as well as a source of clean power. Like minerals on Earth, certain impurities cause kryptonite crystals to take on different hues (iron, titanium, chromium, copper, magnesium, etc for blues, purples, reds, oranges, yellows, and greens) and cause the energy in it to do some very odd things (including temporarily blocking kryptonian powers as well as causing mutations). Thoughts?

John Mendenhall
2013-Jul-13, 02:24 AM
I knew a youngster at the just talking stage that used to call him "Whooperman". I think that makes better sense than "Superman".

Indagare
2013-Jul-13, 03:49 AM
I knew a youngster at the just talking stage that used to call him "Whooperman". I think that makes better sense than "Superman".

But then he'd need a 'w' in his shield...

Though, that's really not much help with my questions.

DataPlumber
2013-Jul-13, 04:58 AM
I suppose earlier Krypton technology could have transformed/evolved their bodies to some degree. I say earlier because it seems it would have to be a long-established technology for it to be ubiquitous and transparent to the Krypton population. Think in terms of a post-Singularity event with a mastery of material science (making our carbon nanotubes seem like rough-hewn wood).
Otherwise, the coincidental similarities to human morphology without corresponding similarities in function could not be explained easily. But, what bugs me is why would kryptonite be so harmful to someone from Krypton?

Cookie
2013-Jul-13, 05:00 AM
Last I heard, Brainiac (a Kryptonian-made AI, that went wonko) destroyed Krypton. That's a thing he just does, whenever he's done gathering all the info, of a planet.

Jeff Root
2013-Jul-13, 07:15 AM
I'm only moderately familiar with the universe of Superman.
I'm most familiar with the "Silver Age" stories of the mid
1950's through mid 1960's. I watched George Reeves as
Superman on TV regulary, but only got my hands on a small
number of comic books. I became aware circa 1970 that
the Superman universe has some constistency problems
relative to the real Universe. By then I had become more
interested in Supergirl rather than Superman. When online
discussion of the subject became possible, I eventually posted
my own intent to retcon the Superpeople's universe to make
it make more sense, in terms of how the real Universe works.
So I have thought about some of the questions you raised, on
and off over the last two decades.

As I've already hinted at, I pretty much came to the conclusion
that the universe of Krypton would have to be some kind of
alternative universe to our own. I know that many superhero
comics involve alternate universes, but I figured that Krypton
had to be in a different universe from ours in order for its laws
of physics to work. When Superman came to Earth, he did not
just travel through space, he traveled to a parallel universe.
Krypton was never a part of our Universe, and Earth was never
part of Krypton's universe. The advanced science of Krypton
allowed Jor-El to send his son to a planet in a different universe.

I have a draft of the beginning of what I guess would be a
fanfiction autobiography of Supergirl, Kara Zor-El. It would be
nice if instead of publishing it, I could sell it to whoever owns
the rights to the character, but I very much doubt that I can
develop it into anything valuable enough to buy. I really like
what I have, but it doesn't amount to much, and quality does
not necessarily imply market value.

Anyway, my intent was to make Supergirl's story both as
realistic as possible and as close to the Silver Age canon as
possible. I wanted to explain the Silver Age Supergirl in
terms of real physics and biology. However, anyone's ability
to do that is limited by the conflicts between Supergirl's
characteristics and the physics and biology of reality. So I
didn't get very far, and it isn't obvious that better writers
than I could do significantly better than I have so far.

Trying to figure out the little details is great fun, though!

Lots of details to figure out. TV programs like Smallville and
Lois and Clark, and the two most recent Superman movies
have probably expored more of those details than I have
thought of, because I haven't seen more than fleeting
glimpses of them. I'm completely out of touch with all the
thousands of other people's retcons of the universe of
Superman and Supergirl that I'm sure must exist in a far
more developed state than my own.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Indagare
2013-Jul-13, 12:50 PM
I suppose earlier Krypton technology could have transformed/evolved their bodies to some degree. I say earlier because it seems it would have to be a long-established technology for it to be ubiquitous and transparent to the Krypton population. Think in terms of a post-Singularity event with a mastery of material science (making our carbon nanotubes seem like rough-hewn wood).
Otherwise, the coincidental similarities to human morphology without corresponding similarities in function could not be explained easily. But, what bugs me is why would kryptonite be so harmful to someone from Krypton?

Well, that's possible, but it's really too much of a coincident for them to look like humans for my tastes. It's a lot easier to say they were humans who migrated to Krypton than to say somehow on a planet completely unlike earth an alien being happened to evolve into a form that exactly resembles a human. From most of what I've read, green kryptonite apparently tries to force all the solar energy stored in kryptonian cells out all at once or similar. Originally it was used to explain why the radio voice actor for Superman sounded weaker when he had a cold. Generally, this is why I thought that it might make better sense to make the mineral capable of storing energy naturally, but the overall effect of that energy on kryptonians (and other life forms) would vary. It might be that the effects are more powerful on kryptonians because they're somehow more sensitive to it due to whatever the White Martians did to their DNA to give them these powers to start with.


Last I heard, Brainiac (a Kryptonian-made AI, that went wonko) destroyed Krypton. That's a thing he just does, whenever he's done gathering all the info, of a planet.

Well, that did happen in at least one reality/timeline. It's certainly not beyond possibility for Brainiac to be involved this time too, but I think that causing the geostabilizer or whatever's holding the remains of Wegthorn in place to fail would just as easily and more realistically "destroy" Krypton without the planet having to implode/explode.


I'm only moderately familiar with the universe of Superman.
I'm most familiar with the "Silver Age" stories of the mid
1950's through mid 1960's. I watched George Reeves as
Superman on TV regulary, but only got my hands on a small
number of comic books. I became aware circa 1970 that
the Superman universe has some constistency problems
relative to the real Universe. By then I had become more
interested in Supergirl rather than Superman. When online
discussion of the subject became possible, I eventually posted
my own intent to retcon the Superpeople's universe to make
it make more sense, in terms of how the real Universe works.
So I have thought about some of the questions you raised, on
and off over the last two decades.

As I've already hinted at, I pretty much came to the conclusion
that the universe of Krypton would have to be some kind of
alternative universe to our own. I know that many superhero
comics involve alternate universes, but I figured that Krypton
had to be in a different universe from ours in order for its laws
of physics to work. When Superman came to Earth, he did not
just travel through space, he traveled to a parallel universe.
Krypton was never a part of our Universe, and Earth was never
part of Krypton's universe. The advanced science of Krypton
allowed Jor-El to send his son to a planet in a different universe.

I have a draft of the beginning of what I guess would be a
fanfiction autobiography of Supergirl, Kara Zor-El. It would be
nice if instead of publishing it, I could sell it to whoever owns
the rights to the character, but I very much doubt that I can
develop it into anything valuable enough to buy. I really like
what I have, but it doesn't amount to much, and quality does
not necessarily imply market value.

Anyway, my intent was to make Supergirl's story both as
realistic as possible and as close to the Silver Age canon as
possible. I wanted to explain the Silver Age Supergirl in
terms of real physics and biology. However, anyone's ability
to do that is limited by the conflicts between Supergirl's
characteristics and the physics and biology of reality. So I
didn't get very far, and it isn't obvious that better writers
than I could do significantly better than I have so far.

Trying to figure out the little details is great fun, though!

Lots of details to figure out. TV programs like Smallville and
Lois and Clark, and the two most recent Superman movies
have probably expored more of those details than I have
thought of, because I haven't seen more than fleeting
glimpses of them. I'm completely out of touch with all the
thousands of other people's retcons of the universe of
Superman and Supergirl that I'm sure must exist in a far
more developed state than my own.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

If you ever want to share, I'd be most interested in reading it. I agree that to have anything like Supergirl or Superman there would need to be some very serious alterations to the laws of physics. I've just worked under the assumption that any comic universe has far different laws of physics than the one we live in because otherwise people would be horribly dead very quickly. However, as you said, working out the details can be fun, even if at the end of the day it still doesn't quite add up. I had my own ideas in mind for a fanfic, which is why I posted here to see what people thought of my ideas and to get help with questions I couldn't answer on my own.

publiusr
2013-Jul-13, 06:15 PM
Well, as one post here about moon formation talks about--perhaps planets do explode on their own: http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php?145115-Mistake-in-the-National-Geographic&p=2143875#post2143875

Now about the best you could do on superman is make him like Kevin Sorbo's character on Andromeda--a heavy-gravity worlder with human plus strength--but that's all you'll be getting. In low g--on an asteroid say, even I can lift a huge boulder. If I had a stable place to wedge my foot in. I would still feel it. If two heavy asteroid fragments get on either side of me and are only drifting together--I'm still slow motion crushed. The mass is still there.

DonM435
2013-Jul-13, 06:58 PM
As someone wrote, if Superman really had sufficient internal mass to stop a speeding car, I hate to think of the holes he'd have kicked in the sidewalk every time he leapt into flight.

I always find discussions like this irresistible.
I’m convinced that I learned to read from my comic books of the 1960s. As you’re probably aware, the DC comics of that era had these Letters-to-the-Editor pages where the readers got to pick every nit. If the colorist goofed on Superman’s belt buckle in one panel, someone would point that out. This stuff was serious business to the young reader.
The editors (or whomever they hired to ghost these pages) were a contentious lot – they’d rarely admit to a mistake. We showed Congo Bill fighting a tiger in Africa? Well, it had just escaped from the local zoo! We showed the home team batting first in that baseball game? That’s Metropolis league rules! That kind of thing.
Something about that kind of argumentation stuck with me. No matter how preposterous somebody else found something in a book, movie or TV show, I always tried to come up with an explanation. Not always successfully, mind you.
Of course, as you get older and (perhaps) wiser, you do think from time to time “Why the heck am I fussing about things so trivial?” But it isn’t easy to shake lifelong habits. (I just finished an article offering scientific explanations for The Invisible Man.)
So, good luck with making Superman plausible.

DonM435
2013-Jul-13, 07:01 PM
(Sorry that I lost most of the paragraph breaks in that last message. One of those forum problems with the editor, and it was invisible (!) when I went back and tried to fix it. I'd better leave it alone.)

Indagare
2013-Jul-14, 10:39 AM
Well, as one post here about moon formation talks about--perhaps planets do explode on their own: http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php?145115-Mistake-in-the-National-Geographic&p=2143875#post2143875

Now about the best you could do on superman is make him like Kevin Sorbo's character on Andromeda--a heavy-gravity worlder with human plus strength--but that's all you'll be getting. In low g--on an asteroid say, even I can lift a huge boulder. If I had a stable place to wedge my foot in. I would still feel it. If two heavy asteroid fragments get on either side of me and are only drifting together--I'm still slow motion crushed. The mass is still there.

I don't know. I could see an implosion (as the core cooled) more than an explosion, but from what I've read it would take a huge amount of energy to shatter a planet.

Well, this is part of the reason I mentioned giving them the ability to manipulate gravity and kinetic energy to a degree. It's not very scientific (since there's no good logical reason they'd be able to manipulate such forces or be limited to the area they touch or is in their immediate vicinity), but I think it's better than simply saying they're now lighter and thus stronger on Earth. That would work for a while, but sooner or later their muscles would atrophy.


As someone wrote, if Superman really had sufficient internal mass to stop a speeding car, I hate to think of the holes he'd have kicked in the sidewalk every time he leapt into flight.

I always find discussions like this irresistible.
I’m convinced that I learned to read from my comic books of the 1960s. As you’re probably aware, the DC comics of that era had these Letters-to-the-Editor pages where the readers got to pick every nit. If the colorist goofed on Superman’s belt buckle in one panel, someone would point that out. This stuff was serious business to the young reader.
The editors (or whomever they hired to ghost these pages) were a contentious lot – they’d rarely admit to a mistake. We showed Congo Bill fighting a tiger in Africa? Well, it had just escaped from the local zoo! We showed the home team batting first in that baseball game? That’s Metropolis league rules! That kind of thing.
Something about that kind of argumentation stuck with me. No matter how preposterous somebody else found something in a book, movie or TV show, I always tried to come up with an explanation. Not always successfully, mind you.
Of course, as you get older and (perhaps) wiser, you do think from time to time “Why the heck am I fussing about things so trivial?” But it isn’t easy to shake lifelong habits. (I just finished an article offering scientific explanations for The Invisible Man.)
So, good luck with making Superman plausible.

I'm completely aware of the fact that what I'm doing here is somewhat ludicrous and ultimately not going to change DC's minds on things. I was, however, hoping some kind folks here might help me out for ways to make a red star that would be habitable at Earth-like distances, how to make enduring double moons for such a world over billions of years, and, of course, opinions on what I would replace, why, and whether it actually made any better sense than what's currently given.

Barabino
2013-Jul-14, 04:54 PM
I knew a youngster at the just talking stage that used to call him "Whooperman". I think that makes better sense than "Superman".

But... when Whooperman will be married and over 40 years old

his friends will call him "Whopperman" :D

http://fe867b.medialib.glogster.com/media/b9/b900fc9a052ff476261f2e15e74d555830c9bbfbe4c1ffe170 6e0f7fdb5e4a4f/whopper.jpg

KaiYeves
2013-Jul-14, 05:10 PM
As a superhero fan and a science fan, I fully respect your efforts here, especially as I have the idea of doing something vaguely similar for another fantastic story kicking around in my head.

Luckmeister
2013-Jul-14, 05:49 PM
I was one year old when Superman first appeared in comic book form (1938). Since his ability to fly was attributed to Earth's gravity being much weaker than Krypton's, I always wondered why, after jumping miles into the air, he was able to decelerate from terminal velocity and soft-land comfortably. He (and whoever he was carrying) should have slammed into the ground at around 130 mph. He also could change speed or altitude up or down at will and totally circle the Earth without a need for another jump from the surface.

With that unresolved, I never bothered to question the other laws of physics that were violated or ignored. There was never more than a meager attempt by the writers to make the science involved believable. But that's ok; he was still my favorite comic book action hero while growing up.