Hulk is Powered by Big Macs


Super powers are sweet.

You’d be hard up trying to find someone to disagree, and if you did find someone, it wouldn’t take long to persuade them in agreeing about how sweet superpowers really are. I’ve had dreams and fantasies about having superpowers, I also have my own super secret superpower desire that maybe I’ll post on another occasion.

Today, I wanted to talk about The Hulk. Most of us are familiar with The Hulk, the strong angry green dude.  His strength is exemplified in recently in two Hollywood films (they’re running out of ideas, thanks Marvel), one in 2003 played by Eric Bana and one in 2008 played by Ed Norton. Now, this post is not a film critique, but several interesting points should be noted here.

The Hulk (2003) was released and blasted the box office expectations and became a success upon release, that is, until people started talking. It received mixed reviews with comments on the epic length and lack of delivery, over-intellect, and Shrek-like CG causing revenue to plummet. The Incredible Hulk (2008) was released to ‘make it up to the fans’. It was taken marginally better, but again with mixed reviews.

I don’t care.

The Hulk (2003) was awesome, way awesomer than The Incredible Hulk (2008). Why? Because the Hulk jumps incredibly far, and jumping, for all intents and purposes, is awesome.

Here, let us gander at how awesome the Hulk is at jumping.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JsDylEPNh0

(embedding is unfortunately disabled, sorry! but its in HD)

If you’re antsy, the incredible jumping can be witnessed within the first 45 seconds of the video, but there’s plenty more jumping to satisfy those who have time to admire the jumps.

Let’s take a closer, more scientific look into the Hulk’s Incredible jumps, and answer one question:

How many Big Macs does Hulk need to incredibly jump?


The Hulk is a Dude

OK, so before I start, I’m making a broad assumption.

The Hulk relies on a metabolism for energy production.

As opposed to stealing life energy, or consuming planets like some other superfolk. This can be inferred from the video at several points. It is apparent throughout that hulk is breathing, hyperventilating at points of more exertion¹. Hulk is using respiration to gather oxygen from his environment. Because he breathes heavier under exertion, it can be concluded that the amount of air he needs is proportional to his energy expenditure. From here we can reasonably conclude he is using cellular respiration to obtain his usable energy. Since cellular respiration is a metabolic process, we can also reasonably conclude that the Hulk needs a nutrient input.

The Hulk must eat.

The Stats

In order to conduct these calculations I’m going to have to make some assumptions about The Hulk’s jumping activity. I will assign hypothetical values for the following:

  • The mass of The Hulk, M = 600kg
  • The height of the jump, h = 100 m
  • Hulks forward velocity, v = 100 mph = 44 m/s ~ 50 m/s
  • Big Mac with cheese, E = 704 kcal = 2,945,536 J (~3 MJ)

Mass

The Hulk appears to be about 4-5 times larger than his human counterpart, judging from the shot of him shrinking at 5:30 into the video. Now, for a realistic comparison (lets face it, Eric Bana is not that jacked), we’ll use the hulks of our time; Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hulk Hogan. In his career lifting days, Arnold weighed 236 lbs (google knows his weight oddly enough). Hulk Hogan weighed 302 lbs. Taking the average we get 269 lbs, or 122 kg. If The Hulk is 5 times larger than a dude, assuming similar muscle density, The Hulk is approximately 600 kg.

Jump Height

This is a bit more difficult to assume, so we’ll just say 100 m for ease of calculation, which isn’t unattainable if you observe the video and the background as a reference.

Velocity

I will use the fact that hulk outruns the military helicopters to assume his forward velocity. The helicopters chasing hulk at 3:00 are Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanches.  These are capable of a top speed of 201 mph. Now, the hulk outran them within a short distance, it would be reasonable to say that the helicopters made it up to 100 mph within that distance, or about 50% of top speed. Hulk was a little faster so we’ll say he was traveling greater than 100 mph or 44 m/s. For ease of calculation we’ll round to 50 m/s.

Chemical Energy

Big Macs have a lot of energy, mainly because of the high fat content. Good fuel for incredible jumps.

Energy Calculations

For simplicity, I will disregard the Hulks internal energy uses (Basal Metabolic rate), which account for almost 70% of energy use in a human. I will also disregard the efficiency of The Hulk’s digestive system to extract the energy from the Big Mac. This is purely the energy input for him to jump, the source being a Big Mac, with cheese of course.

Potential Energy

The energy input for The Hulk just to jump straight up to height h is calculated by his potential energy, PE, at that height.

PE = M*g*h

PE = 600 kg * 9.8 m/s² * 100 m

PE = 588,000 J

Forward Velocity Energy Expenditure

In order for The Hulk to sustain any forward velocity, he must primarily overcome air resistance. The force of the air on the Hulk is directly proportional to his cross sectional frontal area and how aerodynamic he is (coefficient of drag). A good rule of thumb is your car traveling at 60 mph needs about 25 horsepower to sustain that speed at sea level, at 70mph its about 40 hp. For the purposes of this demonstration, we’ll compare The Hulk to your car and we’ll say for The Hulk traveling at 100, he needs about 50 hp (a rather modest estimate).

50 hp = 37 kW

37 kW = 37000 J / s

Every second The Hulk is pushing for this speed and punching through the air, he is consuming 37000 Joules.

Kinetic Energy

The Hulk must accelerate forward up to 100 mph, and he does it quickly. His jump away from the helicopters is the most extreme example at 4:06, accelerating from 0-100 in a single bound.We figure his energy expenditure by finding his kinetic energy, KE.

KE = .5 * M*v²

= .5 *  600 kg * (50 m/s)²

= 750,000 J

For fun, lets calculate his power. Lets say from the time he began pushing with his legs to the time he left the ground was .5 seconds (think of yourself incredibly jumping, how long it takes to push with your legs until your feet leave the ground).

P = 750 kJ / 0.5 s

= 1500 kW = 1.5 MW

Whoa, The Hulk is super strong. 1.5 MW is enough power to provide for about 1000 average American homes.

Energy Expenditure

Now we have to use our calculated energy values to see how much The Hulk will use for his incredible jumps. As seen from the first part of the video at 0:27, The Hulk starts running and bounding for about 9 seconds, and launches for one giant leap. We’ll break it down.

Kinetic Energy – 750 kJ

Maintaining Velocity – 37 kJ/s * 9 s = 333 kJ

Potential Energy – 588 kJ

TOTAL – 1671 kJ

In the opening sequence, The Hulk expends 1.6 MJ of energy.

Big Mac Power

How many Big Macs?

1.671 MJ / 3 MJ per Big Mac = 0.557 Big Macs

1/2 Big Mac!!!!

For the first 10 seconds of the movie, The Hulk needs half a Big Mac with cheese!

Have your own Hulk fun!

Here are some values for you to play with when you want to know The Hulks Big Mac Equivalency (BME).

Big Macs per meter vertical: 0.00196 BM / m

100 meter vertical jumps per Big Mac: 5.1 jumps / BM

Big Macs per m/s forward velocity: BM / (m/s) see graph

big-macs-graph

From the graph we can see the number of Big Macs on the y-axis and the speed in m/s on the x-axis. Note that this graph does not account for air resistance, which becomes significant after about 20 m/s!

We can see that The Hulk will consume less than a single Big Mac up to about 100 m/s. From there there is an asymptote at approximately 300 m/s. This simple calculation states that no matter how many Big Macs The Hulk consumes, he’ll never reach 300 m/s. But we all know The Hulk can do it.

More Hulk fun

We’ve seen just how much energy The Hulk needs to jump, but what about his other feats of strength? I won’t bore you any longer with dry calculations, but we can say a few things.

Bullet proof

The Comanche fires 20mm rounds from its turret cannon. The 20mm round can penetrate 27mm of hardened steel at 200 yards. The Hulk was shot multiple times, minor inconvenience.

Tank Proof

The M1 Abrams tank fires 120mm rounds at about 10 MJ of energy. The hulk absorbs this no problem. He also tosses the 61 ton (120000 lb) tank several hundred yards. No problem.

Missiles?

Don’t worry, he’ll just bite it and spit the warhead at you.

1. Hulks necessity of oxygen is most apparent from the video at approximately 4:40 where he appears to lose consciousness on his journey to the stratosphere, where the air density is significantly less. A reasonable conclusion would be the Hulk was suffering from Hypoxia, further solidifying the claim that The Hulk’s life processes are dependent on respiration.

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  11. #11 by Kouba on 08/19/2009 - 10:02 pm

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  12. #12 by Jimbo on 08/21/2009 - 1:19 pm

    Now you should add in the average working time needed to earn those Big Macs in different cities: http://www.economist.com/daily/chartgallery/displayStory.cfm?story_id=14288808

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