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Iron Man


esmith

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Because apparently all I do is watch movies all the time and I don't want to do any actual work (unless one would dare call physics work rather than fun), I am going to reprimand yet another movie for its lack of concern for physics. In the movie Iron Man 3, there is a scene in which a plane explodes or something I wasn't paying that much attention and people end up falling through the air. Eventually, they presumably reached terminal velocity considering they fell from fifty thousand feet (or an equivalent height at which airplanes fly). Luckily, Iron Man happened to be in the area, and flies around rescuing the falling passengers. There were probably a lot of things wrong with this scene, but the greatest error came at the end when the last few remaining passengers are nearing certain death at the hands of the ocean below. Iron Man thankfully manages to swoop in and rescue them inches before they hit the water. Unfortunately, if they were traveling the average terminal velocity of a human, around 56 m/s, and Iron Man slowed them down to essentially a stop in a fraction of a second, the force exerted on their bodies would likely kill them. Assuming a stop time of .4 seconds and a mass of around 65 kg, the force exerted on the passengers would be about 9.1 kN. That would be akin to having a 2046 lb weight dropped on them. They probably would've sustained some serious injuries and perhaps even died, but this would make undermine the whole idea that Iron Man is a hero and probably decrease merchandise sales. So again, we must give Hollywood a pass just this once because it's much cooler to have Tony Stark swoop in at the last moment than to have him save them all with several minutes to spare. But still, one would think that someone would at least consult a physicist or someone with an elementary knowledge of physics before making these scenes. Alas, physicists are instead confined to doing drab work such as unraveling the mysteries of the universe. 

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