I am creating a scenario for a superhero comic, and need help with an idea. I'd like the solution to be based in scientific theory, or at least scientific fantasy, as opposed to resorting to simply saying "it's magic."

I need to have a character be wearing special gloves that are extremely heavy to him, yet do not add to his weight or his downward force onto the ground. Assume this character is ridiculously strong, similar to Superman, so these gloves must exert an enormously huge force on him (if you're curious, their purpose is to restrict his movements and keep him from fighting back--they're functioning similar to handcuffs).

I don't want the pull of the gloves to add to his weight, because it'd be such a great force that he'd sink into the ground, and I couldn't, for example, have him walk across any wooden bridges... or anything that's not 10ft deep solid steel.

My only idea so far has been to use magnets, but after giving it some thought, I don't think that would work. For example, say Superman is holding a fantastically strong, yet lightweight, positive magnet above his head, which is attracted to a negative magnet under the Earth's crust. The attractive force is enough to crush a skyscraper, but Superman is so strong that he can keep the magnets separated without too much strain. However, even though he's matching the positive magnet's push with his arms/legs, the force of the magnet's push is still reaching the ground beneath his feet, correct? In other words, he couldn't do this while standing on a rickety old bridge, regardless of his physical strength, right? Please tell me if I'm mistaken.

Again, the more realistic the explanation, the better. But as long as it sounds plausible, I'm interested in hearing any idea. I realize this question is much different than 99% of the questions on this site, so I hope you all don't mind too much, and maybe that you'll have some fun melding physics with fantasy. Thank you!

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what you ask for is possible. Any kind of force applied downwards on a person will increase the normal force from the ground and therefore the force the person exerts on the ground, otherwise Superman would just sink. I'm also not 100% clear on the on-topicness of this question. $\endgroup$ – Javier Sep 16 '15 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, whatever force the gloves feel from an external body, will affect the hero's weight. But if the gloves are attracted to similar shoes he should wear with the gloves, then you can make it as strong as you want, and no extra weight on the ground. Any similar solution where the gloves interact with another object on the hero's body should work as well. $\endgroup$ – rmhleo Sep 16 '15 at 23:07

Why not design a self-contained power source into the gloves that sends 3 to 5-second bursts of taser electricity into the muscles in the superhero's arms every few minutes, effectively locking them up so he can't move them? You could design the gloves with a flexible capacitor molded into the palm. The power supply could be molded into the back of the glove. The capacitor would consist of two flexible conducting surfaces separated by a flexible dielectric. The exterior of the palm would be connected to one terminal of the battery and the interior to the other terminal. When the capacitor discharges, contacts in the exterior palm would carry the discharge to his skin.

A taser disrupts nerve impulses to the muscles, and causes the muscles to contract, depleting blood sugar by converting it to lactic acid. Repeated taser jolts would leave the superhero depleted and weak. The result might make his arms and the gloves feel heavy.


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