Sorry Cinderella, you never would have married the handsome Prince. And Superman? Bringing Lois Lane back from the dead would have destroyed all life on Earth. These are among the hard-bitten conclusions students reached in an online physics journal—and not only because writing about imaginary characters is fun, National Geographic reports. "Peer-reviewed" by fellow students, articles in the Journal of Physics Special Topics also dug up a few scientific curiosities. Seems Cinderella's glass heel would have shattered when she was on one foot (running or walking), having left the other slipper behind at the ball. And the Man of Steel's climactic feat in the 1978 film Superman—flying around Earth so fast that the planet reversed spin, reviving a dead Lois Lane—is partly possible but highly dangerous.
Scientifically, Superman could fly fast enough to alter the Earth's spin, but time wouldn't go backward and the gravitational field he created would attract enough asteroids to destroy life on Earth. Among other findings: Santa's near-light-speed travels (to hand out all gifts in 12 hours) would make him 242 seconds younger than us humans, and the Flash's feet could catch fire on his TV show The Flash if he ran at 15,459 miles an hour. Such insights aren't exactly unique: Space.com recently explained why The Martian might be "the most realistic space movie ever made." But seemingly frivolous studies can prove useful, as physicists found by analyzing coffee-ring stains in the 1990s. "Now, the models that they worked out are used for things like techniques to self-assemble nanoparticles," says physics professor Mervyn Roy. (One study found a unique method to achieve "long-lasting happiness.")