Monday, November 8, 2010

X-ray vision. A rant.

Today being the 115th anniversary of the discovery of X-Rays, I thought I'd revive a classic post:

Since X-ray vision is one of Superman's most used powers in the Silver Age, and is therefore bound to come up time and time again in this blog, I just want to set a few things straight.

X-ray vision was created as a convenient way for Superman to locate people without tearing the roofs off of houses or crashing through walls a la Kool-Aid man. However, it soon grew in scope, becoming the source of Superman's later separately named Heat vision.

In countless issues, Superman uses his X-ray vision to fog film, irradiate things, weld things, and even recharge a dying star. I would like to say, right here and now, that X-ray vision (if it existed) DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY!!!

Look, I'm an artist not a physicist, but even I understand how X-rays work.

Superman was given X-ray vision, the power to see through solid objects (except lead). X-ray machines work by projecting low-level radioactivity or X-rays, through a solid object and onto a piece of photographic film. When the film is developed, the X-rays have created an image which shows more dense material like bone or metal (which are harder for the rays to penetrate) which may be encased in less dense material, such as flesh or wood. Since Superman is an extraterrestrial with a different physiology, it is conceivable that his vision would extend beyond the range of human sight and allow him to see other wavelengths of light or radiation (some animals can see heat, for instance) However, this would mean that Superman's eyes RECEIVE X-rays, not TRANSMIT them.

If this is the case, Superman cannot just go around fogging film and boiling water, and Heat vision is moot, or completely separate.

Now that I've got that settled, On with the blog.