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A quick experiment made this clear. Subjects were shown a bunch of words, printed in a few different colors. It should have been easy and automatic to pick out the red-colored words, but it wasn't. It wasn't easy because the words themselves spelled out the names of different colors. For example, the word "blue" might be printed in green ink.

The Science of Supervillains

People read so automatically, that they became confused and had to take time to force themselves see what color the word was printed in. Stroopy would be able to just walk into a place with a sign that explained what he or she wanted to be perceived as doing, like "Lawfully browsing for wedding rings," or "Has security clearance," and do whatever they wanted, because people would read the signs and automatically believe that was what was happening. The Butter-Side-Down Effect began as a kind of bleak humor and became an actual principle, albeit one based on the height of the average kitchen table.

It was found that the height of a table was not quite enough to let a fallen toast complete enough of a turn in order to land butter-side-up. As a result, it really is true that most toast does land butter-side-down and ruin itself and the floor both at once. Buttery Side Down would likewise ruin the people after them.

Every uncontrolled fall would land just at the wrong angle. Every thrown object would be just that tiny bit off. Every jump would be a little too short, or a little too long. Buttery would be a kind of incarnation of bad luck for opponents. Buttery also might be an excellent society assassin, if the character needed to be darker. How many of us, when hitting a stair or slipping on the curb just in front of traffic think, "If that had gone any differently, I'd be dead. And the murder would be impossible to pin on Buttery, legally. The only problem would be in collecting a fee. Then again, the dire consequences for anyone who didn't pay up might convince people easily enough.

This would be a regular criminal, doing whatever criminal thing the plot required of them, until they got in a confined space. As long as the confined space remained perfectly organized and still, they'd stay there. But what jail is always perfectly organized and still? The Brazil Nut Effect is still not entirely understood. It's known that Brazil nuts always move to the top of cereals or mixed nut jars.

The more shaking the container did during transport, the faster the Brazil nuts pop out at the top of the heap and stay there. It's said that most of the nuts in the container fall down small openings in the chaotic mix and travel to the bottom before they're pushed up again, but Brazil nuts are too large and awkwardly-shaped to fall down those holes, and so just stay on top. This is what The Unjailable Brazil Nut would do. Whenever the chaos starts, somehow, they just come out on top of everything.

Every plan to catch them would have to be perfectly organized, and even if they were sent to prison, eventually they'd get out. The Brouwer Fixed-Point Theorem is an interesting little theorem that requires two piece of paper. Put one on top of the other. Then pick up that top one and and crumple it mercilessly.

Science and Supervillains!

Throw it down on the bottom piece of paper again. On that top piece of paper, no matter how it was crumpled, and no matter where it was put on the bottom piece of paper, there is at least one point that is on the exact same spot it was before the top paper was crumpled.

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The same thing works for a closed container of liquid. Stir it around however much, one point is exactly where it was before. Fixed Point Thea will have the ability, if necessary, to wildly and randomly change the position of everyone around her.

She, however, will always stay in the exact same place. Any who fight her will have to be able to improvise again and again, and resistant to motion sickness, and it's still probable that they won't catch her. The Troxler Effect is the result of the brain getting bored with looking at the same thing over and over. It tunes out and fills in details of the things that aren't moving or aren't the focus of attention. This effect often results in mirror-monsters, when people stare at themselves in the mirror for a long time, the eyes tune out parts of their own faces, turning it monstrous.

Troxler the World Bender doesn't bend the world personally. They just wait until the opponents eyes get tired, and the world blanks out, or bends, or twists on them. This means that whole parts of reality are written out of existence if the hero doesn't focus on everything. Try fighting like that. The best villain, though, will make use of a paradox.

The best paradox is the one in which always lets them come out on top. And so the absolute best paradox is the Parrondo Paradox.

The Science of Supervillains (Audiobook) by Lois H. Gresh, Robert H. Weinberg |

The Parrondo Paradox is a system created by a mathematician. He created two games, both of which were guaranteed to let a better lose all their money. However, flipping from one game to the other automatically makes for a win. Seller Rating:.

The Science of Supervillains

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