Early superhero comics often would magnify familiar experiences as the basis for super-powered feats even if completely scientifically flawed. Analogizing insect ability proportionately to humans, alleging gravity differential is sufficient to explain herculean tasks, etc.
What is the best explanation for what is wrong with the following example explanation?
Just as you and I can cool a hot bowl of soup by blowing on it, a blast of his breath can freeze an ocean!
- Hot bowl of soup vs. unfrozen ocean - In ordinary conditions, hot soup is above ambient temperature and an ocean is not. Even if you did nothing, the soup would cool on its own. The ocean will not freeze on its own.
- Blowing will only get you below ambient at best - When you blow on a hot liquid you're inducing air with your mouth... that air entrains the cooler ambient air and that forces convection upon the surface of the liquid to take away some heat. I imagine there are minor effects of evaporative cooling but it isn't the temperature of your breath driving the cooling but the mass of ambient air. I know that means the ocean should never freeze or dip below ambient temperature, is there an elegant / accurate explanation for why? (I would say there's no where for the heat to go, not enough space "capacity" in the ambient air to absorb enough heat... and if it dipped below, the air would just add heat back to the ocean.)
Are there other problems with this explanation and illustration which can be used to explain basic thermodynamics, etc.?
It seems the next step would be to abandon the above explanation as just super-breath (strength and volume of air) but also that the air Superman ejects as below ambient temperature.
At that point, apologists will cite the Joule-Thomson effect which, granted, can cool a gas but also seems to trigger unintended implications as well. What is wrong with the "Joule-Thomson effect" as the explanation for Superman's freeze breath? I suspect the volume of air needed and the speed at which it would have to expand is problematic.
Finally, I have the instinct but not the hard facts, explanation, or science that even if Superman can arbitrarily produce near absolute zero breath, it's still insufficient to perform the kinds of magical "freeze ray" effects routinely displayed. What are the issues and how to communicate them?