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Since the beginning of October, Barry Allen has been using his newfound speed to protect the citizens of Central City in The Flash. While the episodes primarily feature him fighting individuals with their own unique powers/gimmicks, he also spends much of his time dealing with regular dangers, such as foiling thefts or saving people from burning buildings. However, according to a study from a group of physics students from the University of Leicester, Barry’s powers would actually do more harm than good--especially when it comes to rescuing people in split-second moments.
The specific good deed the paper references is at the end of the pilot episode when Barry saves a distracted cyclist from being hit by a taxi. The cyclist was unscathed and confused by what happened, but in the real world, the whole thing probably wouldn't have gone down the way The Flash says it would. According to the students, at the rate of speed Flash was traveling, the physical impact of the rescue itself would have caused greater damage than getting hit by the car. Ouch.
So instead of being a blessing to Central City, Flash would cause more harm than good. Forget being a superhero! A better classification for him would be ‘menace.’ The CW might want to follow 20th Century Fox’s example when it comes to physics and speed powers. Remember how Quicksilver braced Magneto’s neck in X-Men: Days of Future Past to prevent whiplash? If he hadn’t done that, Magneto’s neck would have snapped backwards as they escaped the prison cell, likely giving him a concussion or worse.
If Barry’s going to keep people safe, he’ll need to start taking into account the natural laws of reality. Frankly, it’s surprising that the S.T.A.R. Labs team hasn’t already tutored him on this, as the paper also points out that “increasing the area over which he makes contact with the cyclist would also lower the pressure and likelihood of injury.”
On the other hand, this is a comic book show, and one thing the study failed to take into account is the Speed Force, the extra-dimensional energy force that grants speedsters in the DC universe their powers. One of these added abilities is being able to absorb the energy of impacts, which is passed onto objects or people he’s holding. The show is expected to eventually introduce the Speed Force, but if it doesn’t, than Cisco might want to build another device to stop Barry. If he keeps saving people like this, then Central City hospitals are going to fill up with people Flash has permanently injured.