Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Geeks (will) Rule the World

Comics often present a world where science (fiction) meets art--and what an inspired vision. Comics are filled with things like shields that can absorb and store power, hammers that control lightening, wireless powering, suits that give you superhuman power and interdimensional portals. Sound familiar? It should to anyone who reads and imagines in the Marvel Universe, or anyone who has seen the new Avengers movie.

Life's Little Mysteries recently published "5 Awesome Ways 'The Avengers' Bends Physics" that explores the science needed to produce these novel gadgets. Some say "The laws of physics prevent such inventions," but true believers know better--we just haven't figured it out yet.

This article is so good that a large portion is pasted below:

Captain America's Shield

Captain America harnesses the power of "Vibranium," a metal extracted from a meteorite that crashed in Africa. The shield is capable of absorbing, storing and redirecting kinetic energy, and the material becomes more powerful as more weapons are turned against it. In the movie, Captain America redirects a shot from Iron Man’s repulsor ray into a bunch of Chitauri warriors sneaking up on Iron Man.

“The property that lends Vibranium its remarkable characteristics is its ability to store or channel energy in its atomic structure,” said Suveen Mathaudhu, a program manager in the materials science division of the U.S. Army Research Office. He recently contributed to a Journal of Materials story on the science of the Avengers. Scientists have yet to find a material that gets tougher the more it gets knocked around, but battlefield materials are getting increasingly better at dissipating impact energy.

Thor controls lightning

The Norse god Thor is able to summon lightning by wielding Mjolnir, his trusty enchanted hammer. Thor can channel the storm’s fury into devastating energy blasts that can destroy even secondary Adamantium. In real life, companies are tinkering with artificial lightning. Applied Energetics, a company that develops lasers and particle beam systems, has built a lightning gun that can stall cars or defuse roadside bombs.

Wireless power for aliens

In the movie, shape-shifting Chitauri aliens are wirelessly powered by their mothership. While wireless powering (especially for something so big) remains difficult and inefficient for non-super beings, many researchers, including a group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are working to make this a reality. The most common form of wireless power transmission — for example, the consumer devices that can charge cellphones — use direct induction followed by resonant magnetic induction, but other methods under consideration include electromagnetic radiation in the form of microwaves or lasers.

Iron man’s suit

“One thing we can learn is that many, many science fiction heroes are scientists and engineers who use their innovative scientific discoveries to support or lend them their super-characteristics,” Mathaudhu said. Iron Man (alias Tony Stark) is a prime example. Iron Man’s armored suits give him superhuman strength and durability, flight, repulsors and the unibeam projector. They also have energy shields, an electromagnetic pulse generator, arm-mounted cannons and projectile launchers, various tools like a drill or detachable hip lasers, and can absorb and release energy. In real life, exoskeletons developed for military purposes have been shown to support soldiers as they run at speeds of up to 10 mph while lugging 200 extra pounds of gear.

Inter-dimensional portals

Even a demigod like Loki needed a scientist (astrophysicist Dr. Erik Selvig) to build a device to open up an inter-dimensional portal. “Scientists often [think in a way] that is predisposed to the limitations of the current physical world. However, science fiction has no such constraints and thus can stimulate creativity and innovation in unique ways. In the fictional world, they are not limited to the technology of today, and are free to image the extreme possibilities of science and materials, which often become realities in the real world in the future,” Mathaudhu said.

In fact, Einsteinian physics do provide hints at how transport through wormholes might be achieved. By current standards, such portals seem wildly unlikely, but no more so than an evil Norse god waging war against a team of superheros.

Can't figure out your major? How about physics? Future scientists here's your chance to make art science. Personally, I can't wait for my hovercraft to fly to work, or better yet a transporter, so I can set my alarm later.

18 comments:

  1. I remember, while watching old movies that portrayed the future, thinking that the futuristic devices like video chat, mobile television, and wireless communication would never be achieved. They seemed foreign and distant, most of all they seemed unbelievable. Lo' and behold the movies did correctly predict many of the technological advances that we have today. Perhaps we seek to emulate what we see in film or perhaps film simply seeks to emulate what the future may hold. Whatever the reason, I'm hoping supersuits are one of the inventions that even I never thought could happen, do happen.
    I am still waiting on the self-tying shoes from Back to The Future though.

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  2. Technology always moves forward past barriers that seem impossible at first. Humans as a race have slowly been reaching towards science fiction levels and the best part is we will continue to have goals that far surpass our current technology. Not too long ago we thought that it would be impossible to reach out and touch the moon and these days we are planning to mine asteroids for precious minerals. Physics is only relevant until you can bend break its fundamental laws.

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  3. Science fiction will someday become reality. I grew up watching cartoons with giant robots fighting each other. As a child, I thought that it would be impossible to create such monstrosity. But today, the robots in those cartoons are getting closer to becoming reality. There was a 59-feet tall (that’s five stories) robot known as “Gundam,” built for display in Japan. This shows that we are one step closer to having super giant robots to fight for us. The sight of this beautiful machinery has given me hope that one day, giant robots will become a child’s play toy. To be honest, I chose a science major mostly because I hope to have great contribution to the creation of a Gundam.

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  4. Its interesting how science is progressing. The kind of things we have today (such as the internet, unmanned drones, and bullet trains) where at first the kind of things you'd read about in science fiction. The fact is, a lot of inventions are inspired by science fiction, for example the submarine was inspired by 10,000 leagues under the sea. I'm just going to wait for my stillsuit from Dune, so I can just live in the desert without any food or water. That way I can live longer than most people when the economy finally collapses and we all live in a crazy Mad Max-esque apocalyptic world.

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  5. I find it interesting how the technology today seems to gear toward a future like a science fiction comic such as the Avengers. I personally haven’t watched the movie yet, but watching Captain America and Iron Man separately, I can tell that there are even some similarities that emerge between the technology from those movies and the technology today. I think it’s only a matter of time before we can make science fiction a reality. We always learn and make something new every day- why not making something inspired from a fantastic comic book series? It’s definitely not impossible.

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  6. I've always seen comic book technology as something of the future. It never seemed impossible or even impractical. Just 40 years ago, the first cellular phones were being developed. In another 40 years communicating microchips may be planted in our brains for all we know. Technology is always adapting and improving. What looks like science fiction today may be a common occurrence in the future.

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  7. Usually I am not a fan of science fiction movies but I did see the "Avengers" movie and I enjoyed it a lot. The graphics and special affects in the movie really made it come to life. The strides that scientists are making are incredible and it seems like they are progressing quickly. The science fiction that we see in the movies seem like they are impossible to ever reach and if we do reach them it will be in the try distant future, but with the way science and technology are progressing it might not be as far away as we think.

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  8. Having grown up reading comic books and other science fiction novels I had always dreamed of a distant future full of all the crazy technology I had seen. Movies have showed me a glimpse of these technologies, and to my surprise they are actually becoming a reality. the "Avengers" is a prime example of one of these comic books that has technology adapted from the technology inside. It seems that technology will continue to progress, it might even be possible on day to be a real life Iron Man.

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  9. I have no doubt that these machines or ideas will come into our future, even if I won't live to see any of it. I believe that many of these tools are in development right now, but are being kept away from the public. For example, transporting through worm holes could be possible, but we just don't have the resources to do the task. As for the battle suits, I think there's some already built in some countries (Japan, Russia, China)that need fine tuning and testing. I don't believe they would be implemented in the military because that would cause a great threat against many nations. In the future, I expect many things to be made outside of what is mentioned in this post and I believe that it will "rule" most of the first world countries. I'm neither scared or happy that they'll come because who knows what kind of things those devices could be used for. I just hope it can improve lives of everyone and everything.

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  10. Chenglin Long (English1001-04)May 14, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    I like this kind of movie. It is exciting and absorbing. I heard this film last year, and I was very interested in it. Through the propaganda film of it, I can see the fancy picture and adventurous frame. I promised to see the premiere with my friends. About this film, there are a lot of 'supermen' as heroes to help people or save people's life, but i do not believe there are real 'supermen' exist in the real world. we should do everything depend on ourselves. we cannot expect or wait a hero like superman to rescue us.

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  11. I like to think that reality kind of steals from science fiction a lot of the time. Half the things that we've created in the last decade are all things that someone probably thought up in a science fiction novel or comic book. It's exciting to see how quickly we are progressing with technology, but it would be a little bad if we progressed to a point where we couldn't keep up with the technology that we had created. For example, androids or artificial intelligence. Hopefully we don't completely underestimate the things we are creating and force an apocalyptic setting to befall us.

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  12. i think in the future we will be able to make all these weapons possible. i think the iron man suit would be cool to have because everyone would want to be able to fly. and another cool suit to have would be batmans suit.

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  13. I think one day we can reach what has been shown in films because of all the advancements we have made with other technology such as phones, cars, computers, and much more. We seem to always get what we are aiming for so why not go further with more technology. I do not think Iron Man's suit is something we can make within the next 20 years because we haven't really created a reliable jet pack which is required for something that advanced to work. But whose to say that the future is even like this. In many movies the future is portrayed as this dead overtaken planet, or that this is as far as our future will go.

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  14. I am very interested in this movie,The Captain America's Shield is my favorite character. He do not have super weapon, just a shield, but he is very adamant and he has very good leadership. He can protect his teammate,when they immediately needs protect,they can trust him without any reason. Although his teammates all very powerful, such as iron man's suit and Thor controls lighting, The Captain America's Shield is still the hero in my heart. He is awesome.

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  15. I am exited to hear that scientist are researching about comic book superhero technologies. This concept if found true such as the technology in comic books such as Captain America's shield, can revolutionize the scientific community. If my major wasn't Health Science i would pursue a Physics major. Science is amazing as it is, it would be even better researching technologies that we find in comic books.
    I agree with the title of the article, which is "Geeks will rule the world". I believe in the future we will have many smart people that will develop technology such as the ones we find in comic books.

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  16. Could you imagine having even a fraction of the technology that was demonstrated in the Stark Industries tower? To have computer screens that you can simply create out of thin air, touch certain areas, and move them around wherever you want is absolutely mind blowing. And then there is his arc reactor. Bye-bye heart disease.

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  17. I love the movie the Avengers because of this movie I started liking Captain American and I actually went to see Captain American the First Avenger and it was awesome, I am so ready for the second one to come out. This post was very informational because I knew a little bit about the super powers that the Avengers had but I didn’t know exactly what each object did. I like how Captain American shield gets stronger and its hit and that its indestructible because he was always such a underdog
    Before the Avengers I did not who Thor was and I still don’t really know because I did not watch his movie but I like how he is a god and he is super strong and nobody can pick up his hammer except him, not even the hulk. Thor twirls it around like its nothing. I bet that thing could generate enough power for the whole world.
    When I think of the wireless power for the aliens I think how cool it would be if the entire world had WiFi.
    Iron Man is a really great superhero and is suit is very expensive but its worth it because of all of the things it can do. I like that he has the computer that talks to him and he has screens that he can touch and more around to control things, I sucks about his heart but he is a nice person.
    The Avengers’ definitely defy physics what super heroes doesn’t.

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  18. I find The Avengers' physic bending attributes or weapons very intruiging because anything that can be imagined can be made a reality. It reminds me of old (1960) episodes I've seen of The Jetsons where they had these ideas that seemed crazy at the time. Some examples of these crazy ideas were; video calling, a microwave, and flat screen television sets. If you can dream something, you can achieve it. Back when man only had horses to move their carriages, carriages that moved themselves (without using gravity) at high speeds probably seemed physic bending..

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