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The physics of Magneto (X-Men)

Movies in physics class? It’s time to think about why physics is one of the most unpopular school subjects. In my physics lessons I always try to pick up my students in their world: Can Arnold Schwarzenegger really shoot relaxed from his wrist? Could there really be King Kong? What happens during beaming? And how heavy is the incredible Hulk? The physics of Hollywood offers plenty of examples on exciting scientific questions.

The physics of Magneto (X-Men) 1
X-Men Poster


The X-Men were the first hero group that fascinated me in the cinema. Unfortunately, this fascination decreased with every further film – the stories of the other Marvel heroes were too strongly cinematically staged.

It’s summer holidays and that means not only that I find time for a new example from the section „the physics of hollywood“, but also time for a particularly complicated subject: magnetism.

This time it’s all about the super villain Magneto and the question of whether it is actually possible to float by means of magnetic forces and – of course – how strong a magnetic field would have to be to achieve this.

The physics of Magneto

The physics of Magneto (X-Men) 2For the year of 1963 the scriptwriter and American publisher, Stan Lee, came up with the brilliant idea of ​​using the genetic mutation for the creation of beings with superpowers: the X-Men. In that same year appears Magneto, character par excellence of the strip well known for being the master of magnetism. Its mutant power consists, mainly, in generating and manipulating magnetic fields. His ability to manipulate and create magnetism not only allows him to completely raise a baseball stadium or the Golden State, it also allows him to levitate through the air.

  1. Is it physically possible for a person to levitate by the action of a magnetic field as it happens with Magneto? Justify
  2. What is the intensity of the magnetic field that allows Magneto to move through the air?
  3. How intense should the field generated by Magneto be that allows his to raise a plane?
  4. What physical repercussions could be caused by exposure to such intense magnetic fields?

The physics of Magneto (X-Men) 3More exercises

Would you like to have even more tasks for your own lessons? On more than 130 pages in „The Physics of Hollywood“ you will find numerous additional tasks (and solutions) for your physics lessons. Available at Amazon (click). More information can be found here on the blog.

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