Integrating Superpowers into Society

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jewish_scientist
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Integrating Superpowers into Society

Postby jewish_scientist » Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:20 pm UTC

I watching a show where people having superpowers is fairly common, a little like My Hero Academia. However, rather than causing people to become special heroes/ villains, superpowers became rather mundane. Kind of like how plasmids became no big deal in Rapture, until... you know. For example, a dude that breaths fire becomes a glass blower.

One person who can produce electricity becomes a train engineer. His partner explains that the electricity is used to help the train get going from a dead stop and get up hills. Something about this just does not seem right to me though. If the train can run on pure electricity, then it must be battery powered (or some kind of weird hybrid). If that is true, then wouldn't it be equally efficient for the electric person to consistently send power to the battery in order to keep it charged it instead of doing sudden spurts when the engines need to do more work? I do not know why I think that; there is just something about this set up that does not seem right to me.
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Pfhorrest
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Re: Integrating Superpowers into Society

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:58 pm UTC

Trains are usually diesel-electric, and the diesel engine has a maximum output that it's capable of putting out, so having another power source available to hit peak demand could be helpful. Just like how grid power plants need to spin up extra generators to handle peak power demands, and the difficulty of doing so is a problem for managing the electrical grid.

However getting the train going from a dead stop is more an issue of friction than of power. Already, trains are capable of putting more power into their wheels than the friction between the wheels and the rails (at a dead stop) can withstand, which is why when trains start moving you'll sometimes see their wheels "spin out". (I'm not sure if modern trains usually do this; it's undesirable to have that happen for efficiency's sake, so they might moderate power output to better prevent it now). So pumping more power into the drive train wouldn't help with that problem.
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SuicideJunkie
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Re: Integrating Superpowers into Society

Postby SuicideJunkie » Mon Mar 26, 2018 8:13 pm UTC

I'm a bit curious as to where the economic/superpower margin is, such that Electro is worth hiring to save the occasional costs during surge demand, but not worth replacing the whole power system?

Would it be worth keeping a normal engineer to drive, and paying minimum wage (and unlimited wifi?) for a highschool dropout to sit in the back and feed electricity to the train 8 hours a day?
Alternatively, and potentially better; strap down a super with flight powers, and use them to impart momentum to the train, no traction required.

Could it be worth replacing power plant fuel with shift work in the same manner?
The portability of electrical supers is high, but their wattage per dollar will be critical.

Space applications would be a gold rush.
Flight supers providing payloads to orbit? Electro keeping a moonbase powered during the lunar night?

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tomandlu
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Re: Integrating Superpowers into Society

Postby tomandlu » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:44 pm UTC

SuicideJunkie wrote:I'm a bit curious as to where the economic/superpower margin is, such that Electro is worth hiring to save the occasional costs during surge demand, but not worth replacing the whole power system?


As an aside, in Frank Miller's slightly underrated "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" (aka "DK2"), the Flash has been imprisoned inside a turbine for a decade or so, generating most of the US's power iirc.
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gmalivuk
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Re: Integrating Superpowers into Society

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:11 pm UTC

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jewish_scientist
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Re: Integrating Superpowers into Society

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:24 pm UTC

SuicideJunkie wrote:Would it be worth keeping a normal engineer to drive, and paying minimum wage (and unlimited wifi?) for a highschool dropout to sit in the back and feed electricity to the train 8 hours a day?

The problem with that and similar ideas is that the people with powers would need so much exercise and training that they could charge more than minimum wage for their services. Plus, since there is a limit on how many people are alive, the Law of Supply and Demand is applicable. There may also be inherent constraints on their powers, kind of like how lifting weights makes you stronger, but you can never become strong enough to lift a building.
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