Welcome back, this week we’ve travelled to Louisiana, the home of the mutant X-Man, Gambit!It’s his ability to use a pack of playing cards as a weapon that’s captured our interest this time around and so we’re about to delve into the facts behind Gambit’s tossing skills.Yes, we’re stretching the boundaries of ‘science’ somewhat at times, but in my humble opinion it’s often best not to worry about such distractions and just accept things at face value.
So quickly moving on... let’s get some answers.
WHAT IS IT?
It’s a deck of 52 cards, containing 4 suits of 13 cards per suit (diamonds, clubs, hearts, spades).On this particular occasion the deck belongs to Marvel Comics’ superhero Gambit.
SO... ERM... A PACK OF PLAYING CARDS... WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THEM?
The saviour of many a rainy day (whilst trapped inside a caravan), playing cards have been keeping people occupied for centuries, whether as part of a game, a magic trick or as currency (yep apparently the first paper cards were possibly used in exchange for...stuff). The earliest cards found dated back to the 9th Century, but since then playing cards have gone through numerous changes to become what we recognise now as a simple pack of cards.Notable changes are as follows: The Ace became a high value card during the 14th Century; the four suits (spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds) began appearing on cards in the late 15th Century; the knave was changed to a Jack in the 17th Century; the court cards became reversible in the 18th Century and the joker was invented in the 19th Century.The most common size of playing cards is 2.5" x 3.5" (used in games of poker), the average weight of an individual card is 1.8g, they’re made from plastic or (not surprisingly) card and playing cards are said to hold an astronomical significance, with the 52 cards representing the 52 weeks of the year.
INTERESTING. BUT WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE DECK THAT GAMBIT USES?
Well technically nothing, as Gambit uses an ordinary household deck of cards as a weapon in his fight against evil.However it’s what Gambit did with the cards that made them special.
SO WHAT DID GAMBIT DO TO THE CARDS?
Making his first appearance in Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 in 1990, Gambit was created by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee and given the mutant ability to manipulate the energy produced by his body.Gambit would then transform his body’s energy into kinetic energy, in a process referred to in the comics as ‘charging’, which he would transfer into a single playing card so that it could become a miniature explosive.Due to the kinetic energy surging through the card, Gambit was able to chuck the card with such speed that it always hit its target.
OH.SO WHAT WOULD A PACK OF CARDS DO FOR ME?
Well Gambit’s ability to charge cards and turn them into explosives was a power invented to make him into a cool muther fudgin’ badass, so don’t expect to be able to do it yourself.However all those years spent tossing queens with just the flick of a wrist (ahem)...made Gambit an expert at card throwing, or what is technically known as scaling.
HMMM... SO IF I LEARNT SCALING WOULD IT MAKE ME COOL LIKE GAMBIT?
Not quite sure you’ll ever be cool Ryan, but chances are it couldn’t hurt.Scaling first became popular thanks to magicians in the West throwing cards as part of their acts.There are numerous techniques to mastering card throwing (it’s all in how you position your wrist or flick your fingers), but if you want to become the coolest cat around then you need to be a record breaker.Currently Rick Smith JR holds that particular accolade as he managed to chuck a card an impressive 216ft and 4” whilst reaching a top speed of 92 miles an hour.You may never be able to do what Gambit does, but you could get yourself into the Guiness Book of Records!
And now you know.
SUPER SCIENCE EQUATION: Scaling + Ryan = A (potentially) cool record breaking Ryan
That’s all for this week.See you next time.... in California!