Our favourites, the Avengers have been battling to save Earth, be it alien invasions, the evil super-god Loki or the killing machine Ultron.
They obviously have some super-awesome powers-the Iron Man’s suit, super-healing abilities of Black Widow and Captain America’s indestructible shield.
But it often makes us ask, how scientifically sound are these powers actually, and do any of them hold up to those laws of physics and chemistry as we know them?
It’s interesting to note that even the American Chemical Society took it’s turn at the science behind the heroics of the Avengers!
It began looking at Tony Stark, a.k.a Iron Man and his suit of armour. Originally his suit was made only of iron and weighed around 70kg (150lbs) not very comfortable to move around in and difficult to maneuver. He later upgraded his suit to a nickel-titanium alloy called nitinol, and as Dr Raychelle Burks explained, this alloy was “strong but light, and can be reformed after taking damage.” The current suit also supports rocket boots, made of graphite reinforced with carbon fibre, which act as a heat absorber when the comic character lands on his boots.
But how could we forget the source of all these powers, Mr. Stark’s own portable nuclear power station – the Arc Reactor. In Iron Man 2 he first used palladium – but we all learn how it was poisoning and killing him. So instead, he created his own new element (a scene which all of us must remember vividly)- and scientists claim that this might not be as far-fetched as it seems. Stark used his own particle accelerator to smash the nuclei of atoms together and fabricate a new type of atom. Interestingly, this is not entirely dissimilar to the experiments taking place at real-life accelerators such as CERN. ‘Scientists have made 20 synthetic elements this way, so it’s not unbelievable that Stark would have made new elements to power his suit,’ said Dr Burks.
Obviously, Stark isn’t the only one with super-human abilities. The other avengers, with the likes of Captain America and Black Widow have super strength, quick reflexes, and super-fast healing abilities. In normal healing, a type of white blood cell called a macrophage fights infections and oversees the repair process. While this can take two to five days in regular humans, the macrophages of Captain American and Black Widow appear to be super productive, helping them heal quickly, in a matter of hours.
Coming to Captain America’s shield which possess the ability to deflect bullets, grenades, lasers and so on. Most of its protection appears to come from steel, although this is not a great shock absorber – and somehow Captain America is able to survive even the heaviest of blows from Thor’s hammer. The credit goes to the imaginary mineral called vibranium which, while fictional, has some science at its core.
This material can absorb enormous amounts of vibration energy without getting too hot or melting. For example, the flash of light which appeared as Thor’s hammer hit the shield can be speculated to have arisen when the material converts vibrational or mechanical energy to light energy, keeping the avengers’ leader safe.
Of course, we have to suspend disbelief just a bit to assume this is possible – but perhaps the Avengers have more of a root in science than we all could have presumed.