There can be few people on the planet who don’t know of DC Comics’ super-hero Superman and his ability to fly. As a tyre nerd who loves nothing more than quoting braking distances, this got me thinking – what distance would it take Clark Kent’s alter ego to come to a stop after his flights?
Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a straight answer online, so I took it up to myself to do the math.
So let’s get cracking with it. First of all, I must say that Superman got much faster throughout the years. Back in the 1930s, Superman’s flying speed was somewhere around 100 mph. This is ridiculously slow when compared to the current portrayals. According to various sources, he travels at least as fast as the speed of sound – which is somewhere in the region of 770 mph. There are also a few reports of Superman reaching the speed of light in the last decade. To get our facts in order, light travels at a cool speed of 670,616,629 mph.
Now that we know the man’s flying speed let’s take a look at what would it mean for him landing in Ireland. Equipped with the finest tyres, of course.
I chose Hankook Ventus Prime 3 tyre as my go-to model. Last year, AutoBild (German tyre testing mammoth) crowned this Hankook model to be the best summer tyre in the market.
So, what runway length would Superman need to stop safely in dry and wet conditions?
Having done my calculations, I came to these figures. 1930’s Superman, flying at full speed (100 mph), would stop in 50 metres on a nice sunny day. If it happened to be raining on occasion (what are the chances in Ireland??), this distance would extend to 70m. Samuel Beckett Bridge would be long enough on both occasions to serve as a runway.
Now let’s move up a couple of decades when Superman was travelling a bit faster. The speed of sound.
For Mr Kent to come to a full stop post-flying, we would need to spare 620m of dry, or 870m of wet, surface. According to Google Maps, 900 meters is roughly the full length of Dublin’s O’Connell Street Lower, starting at Parnell street junction and walking up to Trinity College.
And what about if he’s travelling at the speed of light?
Finally, what if the most modern Superman decided to pay a visit to Dublin? Travelling at the speed of light, it would take him 33.5km on a dry day and just under 50km on a rainy day to come to a full stop. The official length of the M50 motorway is 45km. That is including the length of Dublin tunnel. Well, if he does it decide to show up in Dublin travelling at that speed, I hope he is not doing so during the school term as the M50 does not have a capacity to cope with a commuter like that!
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