The Man of Steel Carries Kryptonite to Piccadilly
Press Release issued by
the Royal Society of Chemistry:
swooped onto Piccadilly on Friday lunchtime, January 31, to deliver a lump of
kryptonite to mark the 70th anniversary of his arrival on the planet Earth.
at the request of the Royal Society of Chemistry to celebrate the first
appearance of the superhero, the crystal was produced by the University of
Leicester, whose Chemistry Department has worked on the chemistry of the real
element krypton. The RSC had asked the University to investigate the possible
nature of ‘kryptonite’.
6’ 3” blue and red superhero delivered the glass-covered kryptonite to the
Geological Society, after changing in London’s most historic telephone box at
the arched entrance to Burlington House where both the Learned Societies are
located. The phone box was the earliest to appear in London, as a brass plaque
in a domed glass container, the crystal gives an eerie glint of green light well
known to and feared by, the Man of Steel.
The University of Leicester chemists suggested that ‘kryptonite’ could be a complex of krypton difluoride incorporating a radioactive form of krypton. Such a compound would not only be radioactive but also a powerful oxidizing agent that would react violently with almost all other substances and would burn a human being.
of Leicester Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, John
Holloway, said: ‘Our knowledge of the chemistry of krypton and its compounds
goes a long way towards accounting for Superman’s susceptibility to
is one of the rarest gases in Earth’s atmosphere, accounting for only one part
per million by volume. It was discovered in London by Sir William Ramsey and MW
Travers in 1898.The origin of its name is the Greek word kryptos meaning hidden.
It is a colourless, odourless gas, inert to everything but fluorine gas.
Superman first appeared in January 1933, the creation of Americans Jerry Siegel
and Joe Shuster, the first story entitled The
Reign of Superman.
Royal Society of Chemistry is the Learned Society for chemistry and the
Professional Body for chemists in the UK.
With 46,000 members world-wide, it can trace its history back to the
Chemical Society founded in 1841.
The Society is a major international publisher of chemical information,
supports the teaching of chemistry at all levels, organises hundreds of chemical
meetings a year and is a leader in communicating science to the public.
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.