PART 10: SURF'S UP - THE SILVER SURFER'S SURFBOARD
By Alex Wiggan (and Ryan the work experience lad)
Welcome once again faithful readers of The Science Of Superheroes, you join us this week in Hawaii!Now since we’ve been away from stately Comics Code Manor we’ve had numerous emails asking how we’ve been getting along living out of suitcases and sharing cramped hotel rooms and so I’d just like to put everyone’s minds at ease.We’ve been doing fine.Yep, it’s been a bit tough for Ryan at times, sleeping under the stars and in bathtubs, but he’s coping marvellously.Well, The Comics Code expense account can only stretch so far and once we’ve paid out for my en-suite rooms and my daily addiction to foie gras on Ritz crackers, there’s not much left over.But fear not Ryan’s having a fantastic time and so far he’s learnt about Popeye’s spinach, Thor’s hammer, Captain America’s shield and many more.Anyway, back to the task at hand and this week we’ve stopped off in Hawaii, to catch a few waves as we’re looking at the Silver Surfer’s surfboard!
WHAT IS IT?
First invented in Hawaii, surfboards were originally constructed from wood, before getting a more modern transformation, where they are now made from polystyrene or polyurethane and covered with layers of fibreglass.They come in all different styles (long boards, egg, gun, Malibu etc) and generally consist of a deck (the bit the surfer stands on), the bottom (the bit that touches the water), the fin (that bit that sticks out) and the leash (a cord that attaches the surfer’s ankle to the board).The purpose of a surfboard is basically to surf ocean waves; which is totally radical dude!
WHO DOES IT BELONG TO?
On this particular occasion, the surfboard belongs to the Silver Surfer, an intergalactic superhero created by comic-book legend Jack Kirby!Silver Surfer first appeared in 1966 in the pages of The Fantastic Four, but over the years he became a firm fan favourite and had his own comic for a while.The Surfer was an alien traveller called Norrin Radd who made a deal with Galactus (an alien behemoth) to become his herald, in order to stop Galactus from devouring his home planet Zenn-La.As part of the agreement Norrin was given a small portion of Galactus’ power cosmic, as well as a surfboard to travel on (possibly because it was a hell of a lot cooler than a mobility scooter).
WHAT DID THE SURFBOARD DO FOR THE SILVER SURFER?
The Surfer's board was linked to the hero mentally (a sort of tethering, like a leash on a standard board) and was practically indestructable as he was able to reconstruct it on the few occasions that he needed to. Technically the board didn't have any power, it was actually just a mode of transport powered by the Surfer's power cosmic (although in the movie Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007) the Surfer's power came from the board), so in some respects it was just a surfboard made of silver. The Surfer's real abilities came as a result of Galactus giving him a portion of his power, which resulted in increased strength, stamina and senses as well as the ability to open up black holes, project energy, heal the sick, survive in practically any environment... and he never needed to eat, drink, sleep or breath (which was pretty hardcore). The power cosmic did however allow the Surfer to use his board to travel at the speed of light, which certainly helped during rush hour traffic.
SO WOULD I NEED THE POWER COSMIC TO SURF LIKE THE SILVER SURFER?
Well yes, but don’t despair as sky surfing is kind of the next best thing!Invented in 1986 by Dominique Jacquet and Jean-Pascal Oron (they were French...and so not from Hawaii), sky surfing is the art of ‘surfing’ in the air with a board, whilst skydiving.Technically the boards aren’t really surfboards they’re more like boards used in snowboarding, but they attach to the skydivers feet so that he/she can perform aerial acrobatics during the freefall before they open their parachute.
SO IF I WENT SKY SURFING WOULD IT GIVE THE APPEARANCE OF SURFING LIKE THE SILVER SURFER?
Yes it would, but I should probably let you into a secret at this point...sky surfers don’t technically surf.After jumping from an aeroplane sky surfers still fall at the same rate as ordinary skydivers, so sky surfing is more surfing in name than surfing in truth.The reason that sky surfing appears to be surfing is due to how people perceive it when it's played back on film. You see when it is filmed by another skydiver/sky surfer the person with the camera is falling at the same rate, which gives the impression that the surfer is riding the board amongst the clouds, even though technically they're not.So if you really want to surf you’d be better off grabbing a board and heading down to the coast to hit some waves (and you might be able to get a silver wetsuit if you're lucky).
And now you know.
SUPER SCIENCE EQUATION: A surfboard + Ryan = Ryan splashing around the sea... not in space
Right it’s time for Ryan to rub me down with lotion as we’ve got a few more days in the sun and then we’re off once more to bring you the next exciting chapter in The Science Of Superheroes.