U professor invents Spider-Man movie equation

by Rebecca Harrington

When a movie or TV show has scientific formulas on white and chalk boards in the background, viewers often wonder if they are real. University of Minnesota physics professor Jim Kakalios divulged the mathematical realities of "The Amazing Spider-Man" movie in his commentary for MSNBC on Friday.

Kakalios said in the piece that he served as a science consultant and developed the "decay rate algorithm" for the film, which unfortunately cannot explain how real people can turn into Spider-Man.

The algorithm does combine real science, using the Gompertz Equation and the Reliability Theory of Aging and Longevity, according to a news release. The Gompertz Equation explains how defective cells overcome healthy ones to predict death.

But the rest of the decay rate algorithm is what Kakalios called "mathematical sparkle" to appease the filmmakers. In the commentary, Kakalios praised the "superpower" of math.

"We may not be able to cling to walls, or transform into giant lizards," he said, "but our ability to use our intelligence to understand the world around us is our true superpower!"