I'm not someone who majored in physics and i never took the subject seriously when i was in school and im regretting that alot, there's so many things going in my mind that i cannot answer because i slacked off, but enough of that.

My question is simple, there's alot of hype about batman vs superman. I got into thinking, instead of super strength, can you simulate similar effects of superman being strong in a zero gravity environment?

could i, a simple human being, be able to lift a boulder weighing tons at outerspace(zero-gravity/assuming i can survive being there)

EDIT: let's add a scenario, What if you had the power to nullify any gravity acting upon an object? say you are on earth, and you touch a boulder nullifying the gravity acting upon it, can you lift it then?


closed as unclear what you're asking by ACuriousMind, Kyle Kanos, AccidentalFourierTransform, John Duffield, user36790 Apr 4 '16 at 16:09

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    $\begingroup$ The concept of lifting stuff doesn't make a whole lot of sense in zero g. Where is down? $\endgroup$ – Jonas Apr 4 '16 at 9:06
  • $\begingroup$ I haven't thought of that. I was going with a simpler concept in my mind if i could lift a boulder weighing tons but then again, after reading your response, i feel awkwardly stupid. How can i lift something if there's no up and down. $\endgroup$ – John Makii Apr 4 '16 at 9:08
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    $\begingroup$ If you pushed a huge meteorite in space, it would seem to move away from you quickly like you had super-strength, but in reality you'd be applying an equal force to you and the meteorite. The meteorite, being heavier, would move little but you'd have essentially have pushed yourself away from it, not the other way around. $\endgroup$ – Neil Apr 4 '16 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ So it wouldn't be lifting at all, but instead pushing. $\endgroup$ – John Makii Apr 4 '16 at 9:16

This question touches on the distinction between weight and mass which are used confusingly synonymously in many Western everyday-languages (not so in e.g. Russian).

Weight is the force of gravity pulling you down. It is proportional to the object's mass which explains the confusing everyday usage of the word. A bathroom scale really measures the force ("weight") you push down on with, but it displays a mass in kg or lbs. It does the conversion assuming Earth surface gravity which is where most (but not all) bathrooms are located.

In weightlessness (note there's a subtle difference between "zero g" and "weightlessness"), your bathroom scale wouldn't work because there is no force ("weight") to measure, hence the name "weightlessness". You'd still have the same amount of mass. And it is this mass which doubles as a source of inertia. That is, a massive (not heavy!) rock in outer space would still be "hard" to push in that you have to invest a lot of energy to get it moving. However, since there is no friction or air resistance (assuming vacuum), there are no losses you have to overcome constantly. A small but steady force applied over a long period of time will eventually get that rock moving ever more faster.

So even if superman could make an object weightless on contact, he would still need some muscle to get it to move. But not having to keep up with gravity, he can move it off the ground, thereby bypassing friction with the ground, so the object can actually get ever more faster without loosing the velocity immediately again. (However, air resistance would still be a thing.)


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