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Is Iron Man possible?

Monty

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blog-0909187001366767464.jpgI've always been a big fan of the Marvel comic Iron Man. Its so cool how Tony Stark can put his extremely advanced suit on and do amazing things like save the world. But with all of these amazing feats, how much of the Iron Man suit actually follow the laws of physics, and more importantly, how does he fly? Through research I have found the answers to these questions.

The idea of the Iron Man suit is very much plausible and somewhat realistic. The problem, however, is the technology available to us now. It's just not at the point in its development where it will allow for the abilities displayed by Tony Stark to be a reality. In order for Iron Man to achieve flight he uses jet boots and repulsor rays. The jet boots provide most if not all of the thrust required to propel him at super sonic speeds. The repulsor rays located in the palms of the hands provide stability along with deploy-able flaps located in various parts of the suit. These tools very plausible in today's world. The problem however is the energy required for sustained flight. Not only does flying about cost a considerable amount of energy but so does the suit itself. The computer that that Stark talks to constantly has to be using tons of power along with the energy required for the suit to move. It has been said that a real life version of the Iron Man suit would require more energy than a nuclear power plant can produce. And the technologies of today are definitely not at that level of complexity and efficiency.

With all that said, the force required to give lift to a several hundred pound object would be considerable. With the equation F=MA we know that in order to accelerate the object the force would have to be stronger. And as flight progressed the acceleration would still have to be continues if not stronger. Along with this simply equation comes another law of physics; the conservation of energy. No energy can be made or destroyed. So, going back to the energy consumption of the suit shows that it requires massive amounts of energy. And not enough energy an be produced (converted) for the suit to use.

http://www.wired.com/gadgets/miscellaneous/news/2008/04/ironman_physics



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A great blog post!  By the way, the article you referenced is by Dr. Jim Kakalios, author of "The Physics of Superheroes" and a friend of APlusPhysics and the Physics in Action Podcast.  He was actually our first podcast guest.  Check out his interview in the following episodes, where he was interviewed by an IHS student!

 

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Do you predict in the future when we do have this technology that people will be selling Iron Man Suits, or similar like ways to fly?

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I do wonder how plausible it would be to sell these to the public. I feel like the government would restrict the usage to only military.

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