Iron Man - future science or absolute gibberish?
|In recent years, Hollywood superhero films have given many parents headaches. When youngsters are asked what they want to be in the future, they answer, “Iron Man”, “Hulk”, or “Spiderman”. Then, parents would have to go through the process of explaining how superheroes aren’t actually “real.” However, why haven’t superheroes appeared in our lives in 2022? Ruling out figures with superstitious powers like Thor or the Green Lantern, why isn’t there a “genius billionaire playboy philanthropist” vigilante that flies around the world in a suit fighting crime? Can there be an Iron Man?|
Iron Man is a Marvel character that relies on his high-tech “suit” that grants him special powers such as the ability to fly and withstand the force of physical damage. When looking at the suit from a scientific standpoint, many solutions make the suit seem possible. Ironically, Iron Man’s armor couldn’t possibly be made from iron. Iron is a hefty and dense transition metal that easily rusts, and many problems would arise if the suit was made from iron. If iron is not the answer, what is the material behind the futuristic exoskeleton? There are a couple of alternatives that Tony Stark could have chosen from. One of the options could be nickel-titanium (nitinol), an alloy of titanium. Nitinol is a reasonably strong metal that is relatively resistant to heat and surprisingly light.
The use of nitinol would solve many problems. To begin, the use of nickel-titanium would protect Tony Stark from blunt force trauma. Every time Tony clashes with another character, it is assumed that the suit protects him from fatal injuries, but how? In 2020, an article posted on Kellogg’s Research Labs explored the possibility of using nitinol as a substitute material for armor. The article concluded that using nitinol sheets as protection can drastically improve the flexibility of soldiers while also providing protection from firearms. If the Iron Man suit incorporates the use of nitinol, then its unique properties would allow Iron Man to freely soar through the sky while resisting the heat given off by his arc reactor. However, there must be another piece of the puzzle, as the sole use of nitinol would not save Tony from Thano’s punches. If the genius billionaire could add an advanced, shock-absorbing device into the suit, then there might be a possibility for an exoskeleton with similar properties as the Iron Man suit.
While on paper, the suit might seem feasible, many obvious factors make an armored superhero unrealistic: the amount of energy needed to power the suit and the firearm within the suit is unheard of. What does that mean for the millions of children that look up to Iron Man? Well, we may not wear capes or possess out of this world gifts, but everyone can be superheroes in their own world if they possess superhero attributes - bravery, strength, and a desire to work with each other. As Tony Stark puts it, “Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”