As everyone that is also remotely acquainted with the DC comic cosmos knows, kryptonite is the one weakness of the otherwise indestructible Superman. Kryptonite is explained as radioactive stays of Superman’s home planet that Krypton and also has not just detrimental impacts on Superman however on other Kryptonians as well.

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As the Superman mythos developed, kryptonite was found to come in plenty of different forms, each having their own distinctive effect on Superman. One form removes his powers and also makes the human, one more makes him utterly reckless, yet one more gives that animalistic superpowers. It’s actually quite, um, exceptional shall we say how plenty of different forms of kryptonite exist – there’s also “periwinkle kryptonite” that provides Superman right into a suave, to dance Prince Charming. The hatchet kryptonite, though, most generally refers to environment-friendly kryptonite, the kind which root cause Superman’s weakness.


Kryptonite was introduced in the very first volume that Superman in worry #61 earlier in 1949 as a method of humanizing the male of Steel and also is most likely the most famous instance of one Achilles’ heel since the story that Achilles himself. Nowadays, the word “kryptonite” has permeated our language so lot that, comparable to “Achilles’ heel,” kryptonite is universally construed as a term describing a person’s an essential weakness.

Kryptonite’s impact on Superman varies in between adaptations of the story, through some illustrating Superman as just weakened with his powers blocked and others showing him collapsing and totally unable come move. Either way, though, kryptonite gives the villain straightforward advantage over Superman and also if a rogue understands exactly how it works, he might strategically usage its effects to defeat the man of steel.


Superman’s house planet of Krypton orbits a large red sun called Rao and is located about 50 light-years indigenous Earth. A light-year, as defined by the International astronomical Union is the street that irradiate travels in a vacuum in one year, around 10 trillion kilometres or 6 trillion miles (“What is a”). In short, Krypton an extremely very really far away from Earth.

Krypton is much larger than Earth, and so it has actually a much greater gravitational pull. Follow to the present Superman story, Kryptonians space not normally super; castle are just super on Earth as result of its fairly weaker gravitational pull, ,allowing castle to do their gravity-defying feats.

At the start of every Superman beginning story, it’s displayed that baby Kal-El was sent from Krypton to planet to escape the planet’s destruction. The reason why the world was destroyed differs, through some speak it was the result of a war and others saying that Rao’s immense gravitational pressure pulled the earth apart. All scenarios, though, an outcome in Kal-El travel through space toward planet while pulling fragments of Krypton, made radioactive in the explosion, along with him. This radioactive debris became what we now recognize as kryptonite.


Radioactivity in basic can it is in dangerous to all living beings, Kryptonians or otherwise. ~ above Earth, numerous substances emit radiation by undergoing one of several processes. Alpha decay occurs as soon as the cell core of a disc atom emits alpha corpuscle (alpha particles are additionally called helium atoms, which room made of two protons and also two neutrons).


Beta degeneration occurs once a spirit in a disc atom’s nucleus spontaneously becomes a proton, one electron, and an antineutrino because the neutron to proton ratio is too good for atomic stability. The atom then ejects the electron and the antineutrino, keeping the proton. The ejected electron i do not care a beta particle.


Spontaneous fission occurs as soon as an atom spontaneously splits into two atoms of two different elements, perhaps ejecting neutrinos during this process.

Atoms undergoing any type of of these processes have actually extra power that need to be released. Lock emit this energy in gamma rays, which are basically electromagnetic pulses. In radioactive materials, alpha and beta corpuscle that room released cannot penetrate far into matter. Emissions that pure energy, such together gamma rays, though, deserve to penetrate matter and can displace electrons from atoms, bring about cells come mutate.

It’s never ever made clean how precisely kryptonite decays, yet its radiation appears to behave like gamma radiation since it can penetrate objects and impact living bodies. Kryptonite’s debilitating result on Superman is the result of the interactions through Superman’s cells.

Since Superman’s power originates from the earth yellow sun, we have the right to envision him as either a an especially handsome and muscular tree (if that’s not as well weird the a psychological image) or a living solar panel. Plants usage the sun’s energy to turn water and carbon dioxide right into oxygen and also sugar, the method that Superman have the right to use the sun’s power to turn ordinary movements into superpowered movements.

If that functions much more like a solar panel, we have the right to think that him as being created of solar cells (also well-known as photovoltaic cells) that have the right to store power from the sunlight and convert these storages right into his superpowers. Photovoltaic cells contain semiconductors such as silicon. When light comes into contact with these semiconductors, electrons are released and also an electric field pressures them to flow in a specific direction, producing an electrical current.


In one of two people case, it’s interpreted that Superman utilizes power from the sun at the cellular level. Kryptonite interferes through this process, but the method by which this wake up is left ambiguous. The radiation from eco-friendly kryptonite could interfere with and overpower the solar radiation giving Superman with his powers. Kryptonite might simply interrupt some organic process within his body the means that a plant’s photosynthetic process could be blocked. Or, if Superman features like a solar panel, then the radiation native kryptonite displaces electrons in Superman’s cells, staying clear of the activity of the electrons to develop energy flow (Wilson).

In every of this scenarios, Superman deserve to no longer accessibility the powers got from earth yellow sun, making him vulnerable and also leading come his death if the kryptonite exposure is sufficient.


Although kryptonite basically renders Superman useless, the a driving factor behind why Superman is such a wonderful superhero and why his personality is for this reason successful. If Superman was invincible all the time, no villain would ever before stand a possibility again him, and also he would merely be a boring share character that never ever faces any kind of real conflicts. With kryptonite, villains room able to gain the top hand and make the drama of Superman’s universe a worthwhile adventure.

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 Written through Constance Kaita

Works Referenced 

Superman photos courtesy the whatculture.com, cosmicbooknews.com, and supermanhomepage.com

Images of atomic processes courtesy of Jefferson lab, education.jlab.org

Wilson, Tracy V. “How Kryptonite Works.” HowStuffWorks.com. 19 June 2006. Web. 02 July 2013.