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Stanford biologist explores science of Captain America, Hulk

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As much as I enjoyed my well-worn copies of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, the often-strained pseudoscientific explanations for superhuman abilities sure could sap the fun of out comics. For instance, the Hulk wasn’t simply (!) a gamma-irradiated man who turned big, green and strong when he got angry — if I remember correctly, his additional mass came from another dimension. In an amusing contrast, the “Powers & Abilities” section of a Handbook entry could go on for paragraphs, even pages, while in Who’s Who in the DC Universe, it might only rate a sentence or two.

Stanford researcher Sebastian Alvarado manages to find a nice middle ground in a pair of videos exploring the science behind Captain America and the Incredible Hulk. There’s no mention of other dimensions or unstable molecules here, but there are some big, and impressive-sounding words — such us epigenetic modification, which Alvarado theorizes might be behind Bruce Banner’s transformations.

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