Posted by: movieotaku | April 28, 2007

Energy Beams

Dan Giese shared one of his pet peeves with me recently:

X-Men (and virtually all comic-book based stuff) … what I would really like to point out is the oft repeated splash scene where Cyclops (or any other energy wielder) fires a bolt of energy (a visible bolt of energy which is apparently quite visible in the air, yet does not dissipate or scatter before reaching its target). A supervillain fires his energy, and the two energies strike and repel.

Of course, most energy can be treated by wave optics. Two beams of light (or any EM wave) may pass through, or scatter, but do not have a physical component.

This is essentially correct. In the X-Men they’ve implied at various times that Cyclops’s eye-beam is a laser or a special “mutant energy”. Now, pure energy is not matter. When energy collides, it can do one of two things: the two energies can pass through each other without interference (like light), or they can constructively or destructively interfere.

If the energy beam is a laser, then the laser light would pass through each other without affecting each other’s delivered energy. At best, if the light frequencies were perfectly matched and 180 degrees out of phase with each respect to each other, they would cancel each other out at the point of interference. Otherwise, the laser energy would pass the point and continue on to its destination. This is because light is non-selfinteracting. Light beams can pass through each other without really interfering with each other.

A deflection can only happen with particles of mass, like protons or neutrons. If your beam has protons or neutrons, then it is properly called a particle beam and not an energy beam.

Someone wrote in to mention Cyclops supposedly has a “force” beam.  Whatever that is…

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