The science behind the power of superheroes

How do you make spider’s webs as strong as those spun by Spiderman? How realistic is it to be invisible like Sue Storm? Superhero fanatic and postdoc Barry Fitzgerald (36) investigated questions like these and this resulted in the recent publication entitled Secrets of Superhero Science. The main goal pursed by the Irishman: communicate about science in an accessible manner.

Barry Fitzgerald was around six years old when he saw the film Superman from 1978. This made such an impression on him – those were super powers he also wanted to possess. Still, the genuine ‘infection’ took place in 2000 with the release of the film X-men. “Of course you did get the Batman films in the 1990s, but the genre as it is now arose later. More budget was made available and whereas initially it used to be mostly the good guy against the bad guy, later more common ground with society appeared. Thus, the opening scene of Iron Man took place in Afghanistan, while the comic book began in Vietnam. The Marvel films were given more substance and depth and science got to be integrated into them.”

The idea for his book was born a few years ago. He did not only want to express his enthusiasm about the films and the technical aspects, but especially wanted to communicate about science in an innovative and novel manner. This resulted in the book Secrets of Superhero Science, which Fitzgerald published on his own two weeks ago. He devotes eleven chapters to the superheroes and their powers and tools. He gathered the information by researching literature, talking to scientists and through logical thinking. “You can read my scientific opinion there”, the Irishman explains.

This fully English-language book can be ordered online via and is for sale at Van Piere bookshop in Eindhoven.

Barry Fitzgerald will be giving a talk on his book as part of the ICMS Science Class on Wednesday 20th April. The ICMS Science Class will take place at Ceres 0.31. All Bachelor and Master students of TU/e are welcome. PhD students, postdocs and staff associated with the ICMS are also welcome to join. The meeting will be from 18:00 to approximately 20:15 and during the break pizzas will be served. People who are interested can send an email to icms@tue.nlif they wish to participate.

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