You may remember (though you probably don’t) that I told you about a bunch of eggheads at Southampton University who calculated that Spiderman really could stop a subway train using spider silk. I went into brain-numbing detail on this.

I love it when pointyheads get excited about real trivia. I’m delighted to be able to tell you that scientists at Virginia Tech University have upped the ante a bit in pursuit of the downright pointless, but nevertheless entertaining, speculation about superheroes.

They turned their attention on two other characters from the Marvel comics stable, which were always vastly superior to the lame efforts from DC. However, they did look at two heroes I don’t consider ‘real’ Marvel heroes. Those are Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, and the Incredible Hulk. The rest are all johnnie-come-latelies.

Hence Antman and the Wasp don’t really count, but hey ho. Maxwell Michael Stites* et al calculated that at the size Ant and Wasp shrink to, they wouldn’t be able to breathe enough to retain their normal human strength while so small. The atmospheric density they’d encounter with such tiny lungs would be about that of being 8000m above sea level. Climbers on Everest call this the ‘death zone,’ and Ant and Wasp are gonna die.

However, all is not lost. The VTU guys, being proper scientists, couldn’t leave it alone, and have developed microfluidic components, like those used by real insects in their respiratory tracts**, and reckon if they embedded these in the helmets of the tiny heroes, all would be well. That’s really a solution looking for a problem, isn’t it? Fun, but pointless.

On the subject of it being fun, there’s always a killjoy around isn’t there? Some po-faced logician intent on ruining the story. With Ant and Wasp, you get the same unbelievability that dogged DC’s Mighty Atom. ‘You can’t shrink a human because you can’t shrink atoms (as opposed to the Atom, who could.)’

*Crazy name, crazy guy.

**Who knew?