Marvel Weapons Discussion

We'll start with the item that is arguably the most famous: Captain America's Shield. This vibranium disc has the ability to absorb all incoming vibrations, turning the wielder into an unmoving sentinel - appropriate for Cap's status as a defender of truth and justice. The shield has also been shown to ricochet extremely well, losing very little velocity and enabling Cap to throw the shield in combat and have it return to his hand via rebounds.

These two attributes appear to be polar opposites. If the shield really did absorb all vibrations, it would lose all velocity and fall to the ground at the point of impact. However, the Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy is neither created nor destroyed, simply transformed. With the exception of a strike from Thor's hammer (which created a powerful shockwave), strikes to Cap's shield have not been shown to create waves of concussive force, incredible heat, or intense sounds (which would show the transformation of energy).

According to Suveen Mathaudhu, a professor of adjunct materials at NC State University, any incoming energy must go somewhere, which indicates that vibranium is capable of storing energy within the bonds of its atoms. This makes the shield capable of functioning as a capacitor, which can absorb and release large amounts of energy very quickly. This same ability also makes the shield capable of functioning as a battery, which releases and stores energy at a more or less constant rate.

This explains why the shield ricochets when thrown, rather than absorbing all the energy from the throw. When the shield's edge strikes a surface, the shield releases stored energy from within its atomic bonds to counteract the energy of the hit, causing the shield to rebound at (or nearly at) the same velocity with which it struck the surface.

So, why did the shield create a shockwave after being hit by Thor's hammer if it's supposed to absorb energy? I believe this may be due to the nature of the...