# Speed of a Superhero: Smallville

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## Abstract

The purpose of this analysis is to determine the velocity of Superman (a.k.a. Clark Kent a.k.a. Tom Welling) as he is running across the Reeves Dam to get to project 33.1 in the television show Smallville.

## Introduction

This scene is from "Phantom", the last episode of season six of Smallville. In the scene Clark has just found out about Lex's operation known as Project 33.1. The project revolves around capturing people that were affected (gained superpowers) by meteorites and doing tests on them in hopes of replicating their powers in normal human beings. Lex has gotten hold of a phantom (a super being that escaped from the phantom zone; a prison where Kryptonian prisoners were held) and is now trying to extract its blood so he could use it to make his own super human army. Clark is on one side of the bridge that leads to the facility and then he suddenly shoots towards the door using his super speed.

We are going to use a basic physics formula to do this

v = d/t

Where

• v is the speed of Superman/Clark Kent as he runs across the bridge
• d is the distance or the length of the bridge.
• t is the time it takes to cross the bridge.

## Procedure

• Find the scene in the last episode of the season six of smallville. (it's in the last five minutes of the episode). Look at the part where Clark runs across the bridge to reach the door of the facility 33.1.
• Using a stop watch determine the time it takes for Clark to cross the bridge.
• Use the computerized ruler to measure the height of Clark Kent while he is running across the bridge. Also measure the length of the bridge in the same scene.
• According to the International Movie Database, the height of Tom Welling, the actor playing Clark Kent, is 6' 3" or 75 inches. or 1.91 m
• Using the height of the TV Clark Kent, the actual actor, and the length of the TV bridge you can use proportion to find the actual length of the bridge.

## Analysis

Trial Time (s)
Tabraiz
Time (s)
William
1 0.531 0.571
2 .551 0.566
3 0.550 0.553
4 0.541 0.540
5 0.581 0.566

To find the speed of Clark Kent as he shoots across the bridge we used the equation

v = d/t

We found the time(t) by using the average of the values of the data at the right.

The time it took Clark to travel across the bridge was 0.555 s.

To find the length of the bridge we made a ratio equation with information that we had obtained by using WadRuler. We know the height of Clark Kent on screen (13 pixels), the length of the bridge on screen (502 pixels), and the actual length of the actor (75 inches). Using this we set up the following ratio to determine the length of the bridge:

(13 pixels)*(X)=(502 pixels)*(75 inches)
X = 2,896 inches or 241 feet or 73.56 meters

Then we figured out the speed by using the following equation

v = d/t
v = (73.56 m)/(0.555 s)
v = 133 m/s or 477 km/h or 296 mph

## Conclusion

Based on the analysis Superman's speed as he ran across the bridge was 133 m/s or 477 km/h or 296 mph.

## Sources of Error

• We used a stop watch to calculate the time it took for Clark to travel across the bridge. We estimated the time by averaging multiple trials. The time was really quick due to the "human reaction time" the timing could have been affected.
• The approach to the bridge is curved a little at the beginning which affected the calculation of its length.

Tabraiz Rasul, William Wong -- 2005

Physics on Film