I am a TA at a prestigious private university. I won’t say which one, it’s not hard to figure out, but even so I’ll leave a hint of ambiguity. And for the most part I TA students who are not planning on majoring in science. So dealing with me and the professor for the course might be their only exposure to science they have while in college. This means that while I try to teach them the material they need to pass, I also want to teach them an understanding and appreciation of the scientific method in general. I don’t care if they forget every fact they learn during their semester with me, but if they walk away knowing that science is valuable and useful then I count it as a win.
But enough with that lofty junk, what does this have to do with comics? Well I’ve been thinking about characters and education lately, more specifically what certain characters might have studied while in college. Because even athletes get a degree in something, just in case, so it makes sense that superheroes would have a fallback career in the form of a diploma. Here’s how I’m going to break it down:
1) The character shouldn’t already be a scientist (because within the superhero genre there really are quite a few already)
2) However, I’m going to try and figure out what scientific discipline they’d be most suited for. Sorry to other majors, but that’s just how I roll.
3) The major should potentially improve how the character functions in their role as a superhero, because why else major it in first place?
Character: Sam Wilson, aka Falcon
Major: Aeronautical Engineering
Is engineering REALLY science? Um… kind of? It’s certainly a scientific discipline so I’m going to give it to our man the Falcon. His entire gimmick is reliant on flapping around helping out Cap and I think it could really behoove him to have a deep understanding of just how objects that shouldn’t stay in the air (e.g. planes, humans, etc.) manage to pull it off.
Based on the always accurate Wikipedia entry for Sam Wilson it seems like he doesn’t really build his own gear, thus a little bit of education could go a long way towards making him a bigger player in the Marvel U. Besides, the applications for a personal flight system that doesn’t burn your legs off are staggering. I’d buy one if only to avoid almost getting hit by cars on my bike every day.
Character: Sanderson "Sandy" Hawkins, aka Sand
Major: Geology & Psychology
I should probably be more specific because geology is a pretty broad branch of science (and I should know, as a holder of a degree in Environmental Geology). So if I had to specialize Sand I’d probably insist upon Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, since that primarily deals with the sedimentary rocks that cover the majority of earth at the very top and very thin level. And on the continents, where the majority of superheroing takes place, those sedimentary rocks are primarily felsic, meaning that they are made up mostly of feldspars and siliclastic material. Those up on their continuity will know that Sandy Hawkins is actually a silicon based organism, so having a hard and fast handle on the SiO2 portion of our crust could serve him very well.
And why the psychology? Well even though it’s one of the softest of the soft sciences the dude does have some wicked bad dreams and perhaps a little deeper understanding of the science of his psyche could serve him well.
Major: Applied Math & Statistics
Karnak is an Inhuman with the ability to find the flaw in anything. He’d be a very annoying scientist but only because he’d be such a spectacular scientist. Finding flaws in the work of others keeps a scientist employed. I don’t mean to make that sound negative, nobody gets into a scientific discipline expecting to be right all that often, because being wrong is an integral part of the process. Even so, I’d rather keep Karnac on the sidelines but still in a way that would be incredibly useful to those of us in the trenched with his major of statistics.
I love statistics. If I were allowed to redesign high school ciriculum I’d get rid of Trigonometry and maybe even Pre-calculus replace them with statistics. We live in a society overrun with data. Advertisements, politicians and even Conor are constantly throwing numbers at us and expecting us to believe them. But as Ronald Coase, “If you torture the data long enough, it will confess.” And that’s why I think Karnac would make such an amazing staticisian. He’d be able to cut through the flaws in any set of data (and there are always flaws) to see the truth. It may sound insane, but statistics is one of the best tools we have to determine what is real versus what isn’t.
Plus this was Karnac could help me with my data, I love statistics but I don’t necessarily know how to make them do what I want as often as I’d like.
Character: Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman
Major: Marine Biology
This probably sounds like a no-brainer but I think there’s some hidden potential for Aquaman beneath the depths. Scientists that want to study the deep deep oceans either have to take a very tiny, very cramped and very dangerous submersible to the bottom of the ocean and look around. Clearly you can’t cover much distance that way, but it also just takes a lot of time to get down there, get back up, and hope you saw something worth publishing. Well ole Arthur could just cruise down to the body and tell all the undiscovered fish to follow him to the surface where they could be collected, catalogued and published. Is it a dick move to kill that many fish for your own career? Yes, but it’s a small price to pay to increase our knowledge by that much, and at the very least he’s not just cutting fins off then leaving them to die. Plus EVERYONE would want to collaborate with Aquaman, even if he was constantly sneaking up on them to punch them in the stomach.
So there’s my off the cuff declarations. What about you? What are you majoring in? What character would you send into what department? Hash it out in the comments, good people!