The Arrival of “How to Build an Iron Man Suit”

In February 2019, I set out on a writing adventure. I had a plan and I hoped that I would be able to stick to it. In my apartment I scribbled some notes, random musings, and a rough timetable on my whiteboard. It was a serious undertaking – to write a book in approximately 6 months from scratch. But I was motivated, intrigued, and suitably placed to write it. The aim was to write a book “How to Build an Iron Man Suit” with the content inspired by the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and real scientific research from around the world.

The process proved to be an incredible adventure. The research part involved reading scientific papers from multiple disciplines and watching the films of the MCU on repeat. I refer to the paper reading process as “academic mining” where I searched through many thousands of papers that could link to the narrative of the book. Some papers were easy to find, some were hard to find. I must admit though that it was a joy to rematch the films once again. Given that the book is based on Tony Stark and his exoskeleton suits, I focused on the films where he had a starring role. For instance, I definitely watched Iron Man (2008) more than 20 times while writing the book. Multiple watches that certainly paid off.

I should emphasise that the book is not about building the Iron Man suit. It is really about building an Iron Person suit – a suit for everyone. I strive to highlight that the technologies within the suit are to be used for good and not for evil. And these technologies need to be developed in an ethical manner, and not in a secretive and secluded manner that mirrors the approach of Tony Stark.The books also acts as my testament to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) thus far. I use scenes from multiple films to motivate the introduction of concepts and technologies – from Iron Man (2008) to The Avengers (2012) and from Captain America: Civil War (2016) to Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019).

There were plenty of occasions where I didn’t think I’d make the deadline – a deadline that I had set for myself. You see I decided to venture into the self-publishing world one more time with this new book – just like my previous books Secrets of Superhero Science and Secret Science of Santa Claus. Self-publishing can be a challenging task as you need to both write the book and arrange the appropriate support structures for the rest of the book such as an editor, illustrator, proof-readers, and layout designers.

In the end it all worked out and the book arrived from the printers on October 29th 2019, the day before my 40th birthday. The official publication date for the book is October 30th 2019 – a present to myself to mark the end of my 4th decade on the 3rd rock from the Sun. You can get further details on the book here.

Over the coming weeks I’ll write a little more about the writing process and the joys and tribulations of self-publishing.

Until then – always think super!

BWF

Science Week Ireland 2019: Preview of Ballyhoura Science Day

Science Week Ireland 2019: Preview of Ballyhoura Science Day

 
 
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It’s Science Week Ireland 2019 and I’m back in Ireland to speak all over the country about science and superheroes.

One event that I’ll be speaking at is the Ballyhoura Science Day. This SFI-funded event will be taking place on Saturday November 16th from 11.00 to 16.00 at the Croom Sports Complex in Croom, Co. Limerick. Admission is free and all are welcome.

There’s going to be lots of science-based stands and exhibitions at the Science Day including Wild Encounters, the Community Food Initiative, and the Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre.

I had the chance to chat with Amber Mothersoul – the Project Leader for the Ballyhoura Science Day – about the Science Day, the activities that will be available on the day, and of course superheroes.

For more information on the Ballyhoura Science Day, please go to the website www.visitballyhoura.com. You can also get further information on Twitter @Ballyhoura.

You can follow Barry Fitzgerald on Twitter @BarryWScience, on Instagram @bwscience, and get further information on his talks and books at bwscience.com.

Daredevil and Drones (with Sanne Maring)

Daredevil and Drones (with Sanne Maring)
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On May 13th 2019, BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode IV took place at the Aula Auditorium at TU Delft. The focus was on super-senses and Daredevil

In this final post-podcast for Episode IV, you’ll hear from Sanne Maring, an architecture student at TU Delft.  In conversation with host Barry Fitzgerald, Sanne discusses how her work on a project for a minor on Responsible Innovation relates to Daredevil.

You can also watch BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode IV from May 13th 2019 online, including Sanne’s talk, at the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVWS71vfDA0.

BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science is organised by Studium Generale Delft (Twitter: @sgtudelft) and BW Science. It is hosted by superhero scientist and TU Delft researcher Barry Fitzgerald (Twitter: @BWScienceNow).

Five Lessons from Avengers: Endgame

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans following the release of Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film in MCU superhero expanse. Jubilant highs have been intermixed with shocking lows as the remaining Avengers attempted to undo the actions from Avengers: Infinity War of the Mad Titan Thanos. There have been goodbyes for iconic characters, the appointment of new leaders, and the establishment of new teams.

Unsurprisingly, I’ve seen the film a few times (six to be precise and maybe more soon), and every time that I’ve watched Avengers: Endgame, I’ve spotted something new. So here’s the first of five quirky lessons or observations (without giving too many spoilers) from Avengers: Endgame:

1.  Hawkeye Speaks Japanese

One character absent from Avengers: Infinity War was Clint Barton (Hawkeye). After his actions in violation of the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War, Barton finds himself under house arrest, just like Scott Lang in Ant-Man and the Wasp. In the opening scenes of Avengers: Endgame we see Barton with his family on his farm. We catch a glimpse of the house arrest ankle bracelet as he teaches archery to his daughter Lila. Barton seems at peace as he enjoys spending time with his family. This serenity is destroyed in a matter of moments when Barton’s family are turned to dust by the Decimation (Thanos’ finger snap from Avengers: Infinity War). Barton doesn’t take the loss of his family well and assumes a new persona – Ronin. He goes on a worldwide rampage against organised crime as he takes on criminals in countries such as Mexico and Japan. We see Ronin in action in the latter as it takes out the Yakuza in Tokyo. During a fight with one of the Yakuza leaders, Barton speaks Japanese. Should we be surprised that a spy can speak multiple languages? Probably not.

2. The Creator of Thanos is in the Film

After the Avengers fail to stop Thanos from destroying the Infinity Stones there is a time-jump of five years. It’s the year 2023 and the Avengers are trying to move on. Steve Rogers runs a support group for people who lost friends and family in the snap. One member of the group is Joe Russo, one of the directors of Avengers: Endgame. Another member of the group is Jim Starlin, the comic book artist who created Thanos in the early 1970s. Nice cameo.

3. Steve Rogers is a Terrible Cook

While Steve Rogers runs a support group for people, Natasha Romanoff has seemingly taken charge of the Avengers and their allies. We see Natasha in a conference call with Okoye, Captain Marvel, Rocket, Nebula, and War Machine. She reminds her friends that everything that happens anywhere in the universe goes through her. War Machine is the last to terminate communication, but informs her that an incident in Mexico is more than likely the doing of Clint Barton. After War Machine hangs up, Natasha starts to cry at the thought of her dear friend Barton on a rampage around the world. At that moment, Steve Rogers enters the room and says, “I would offer to cook you dinner, but you seem pretty miserable already.” Despite coming out of the ice more than 10 years before it seems that Rogers has still to learn how to cook a decent meal. Still he must be better than the Vision in Captain America: Civil War!

4. Thor, Korg and Miek play Fortnite

Thanks to the quantum technology and Pym’s particles of Scott Lang and the genius of Tony Stark, the Avengers set in motion a plan to undo the Decimation. But they need a team, so the Hulk and Rocket head to New Asgard, which is located in Tønsberg in Norway, to convince Thor to join the cause. However, Thor has not dealt well with the events of Avengers: Infinity War as he has turned to alcohol and bad eating habits to get over his failure to stop Thanos in Wakanda. In addition to enjoying a few too many beers, Thor also enjoys playing Fortnite, the online video game, with his good buddies Korg and Miek. Interesting way to process his perceived failure to stop the Mad Titan. If he’s been playing Fortnite for five years, we’ve got to assume that he’s probably not bad at it.

5. No mention of X-Men: Days of Future Past

As the Avengers prepare to test their quantum-based time travel technology, a number of characters discuss the implications and rules of time travel. James Rhodes and Scott Lang list a whole bunch of time travel films such as Hot Tub Time Machine, Terminator, Wrinkle in Time, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. However, there’s no mention of the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past, in which time travel plays a key role. Of course X-Men: Days of Future Past was produced 20th Century Fox and is not associated with the MCU. But it would have been cool if they had mentioned the X-Men film in the list. On the other hand, it’s likely that the X-Men will become part of the MCU in the near future following the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by Disney.

Within the MCU there must surely be superhero films. Perhaps the adventures of Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Nastasha Romanoff, and Thor have been made into films within the MCU. This was almost revealed in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. In Marvel Comics, Simon Williams (better known as Wonder Man) is a retired superhero-turned actor. The actor Nathan Fillion (of Castle fame) had been cast as Simon Williams and was supposed to appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 on a number of film posters, one of which was for a film entitled “Tony Stark”. Perhaps in the future we will see Wonder Man make an appearance in the MCU, either as a famous actor or as a superhero.

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And that’s it, the first five quirky lessons or observations from Avengers: Endgame. Stay tuned for more!

Always think super!

BWF

Daredevil, Sound Imaging and Predictions (with Roberto Merino Martinez and Rolf Hut)

Daredevil, Sound Imaging and Predictions (with Roberto Merino Martinez and Rolf Hut)
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On May 13th 2019, BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode IV took place at the Aula Auditorium at TU Delft. The focus was on super-senses and Daredevil

In this first post-podcast for Episode IV, you’ll hear Roberto Merino Martinez and Rolf Hut, who are both researchers at TU Delft.  In conversation with host Barry Fitzgerald, Roberto and Rolf discuss their work at TU Delft and how it relates to Daredevil.

You can also watch BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode IV from May 13th 2019 online, including Roberto’s talk and Rolf’s talk, at the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVWS71vfDA0.

BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science is organised by Studium Generale Delft (Twitter: @sgtudelft) and BW Science. It is hosted by superhero scientist and TU Delft researcher Barry Fitzgerald (Twitter: @BWScienceNow).

Supergirl, the Flash, and What If Physics (with Maia Rigot)

Supergirl, the Flash, and What If Physics (with Maia Rigot)
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On April 25th 2019, BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode III took place at the Aula Auditorium at TU Delft. The focus was on super-speed, Supergirl, and the Flash

In this final post-podcast for Episode III, you’ll hear from Maia Rigot, a physics student at TU Delft.  In conversation with host Barry Fitzgerald, Maia discusses the physics behind some”What if” questions about Supergirl and the Flash, what inspired her to study physics, and the cultural importance of Black Panther.

You can also watch BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode III from April 25th 2019 online, including Maia’s talk, at the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XQ4yXdocxo.

BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science is organised by Studium Generale Delft (Twitter: @sgtudelft) and BW Science. It is hosted by superhero scientist and TU Delft researcher Barry Fitzgerald (Twitter: @BWScienceNow).

Supergirl, the Flash, and Gene Doping (with iGEM 2018)

Supergirl, the Flash, and Gene Doping (with iGEM 2018)
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On April 25th 2019, BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode III took place at the Aula Auditorium at TU Delft. The focus was on super-speed, Supergirl, and the Flash

In this second post-podcast for Episode III, you’ll hear from Monique de Leeuw and Venda Mangkusaputra who were both part of the 2018 iGEM team at TU Delft.  In conversation with host Barry Fitzgerald, Monique and Venda discuss their involvement in the iGEM team at TU Delft, gene doping, and binge-watching the Flash in preparation for their talk at BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science.

You can also watch BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode III from April 25th 2019 online, including the talk from Monique and Venda, at the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XQ4yXdocxo.

BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science is organised by Studium Generale Delft (Twitter: @sgtudelft) and BW Science. It is hosted by superhero scientist and TU Delft researcher Barry Fitzgerald (Twitter: @BWScienceNow).

Supergirl, the Flash, and Aerodynamic drag (with Alexander Spoelstra)

Supergirl, the Flash, and Aerodynamic drag (with Alexander Spoelstra)
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On April 25th 2019, BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode III took place at the Aula Auditorium at TU Delft. The focus was on super-speed, Supergirl, and the Flash

In this first post-podcast for Episode III, you’ll hear from Alexander Spoelstra, a PhD student in the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft.  In conversation with host Barry Fitzgerald, Alexander discusses his study of aerodynamical drag encountered by cyclists, his current work, and how he uses his research when he competes in triathlon events.

You can also watch BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode III from April 25th 2019 online, including Alexander’s talk, at the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XQ4yXdocxo.

BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science is organised by Studium Generale Delft (Twitter: @sgtudelft) and BW Science. It is hosted by superhero scientist and TU Delft researcher Barry Fitzgerald (Twitter: @BWScienceNow).

Things aren’t the same after Avengers: Endgame

It’s just over two weeks since the release of Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and the impact of the film has been extraordinary. To date I’ve seen the film FIVE (5) times, and I plan to see the film a couple of more times before it leaves cinemas. Four too many times for some, but for someone like me it’s only the beginning.

I’m more than aware that some people have yet to see the film, which is now the 2nd highest grossing film of all time, so there won’t be any spoilers here from me. I just couldn’t ruin the film for anyone who is waiting for the hype to die down and the theatres to be half empty before they decide to go watch the 182 minute superhero extravaganza.

All I’ll say right now is that the film is fun, exciting, emotional, and there are scenes that will leave you speechless. Of course, like most films these days, there are some things that could have been better, but for me they are minor. To others, these issues are major. In one or two weeks I’ll write a more extensive blog on the film.

Avengers: Endgame – Focused on breaking the box office!

In the build-up to the release of the film, my work on superheroes was featured in a number of publications in the Netherlands. First up my work was featured in an article in New Scientist, in part promoting a talk that I gave as part of the Imagine Film Festival on April 14th. Next, my work was featured in an article written by Nick Kivits for Dutch Men’s Health magazine. I’ve got to say that was very very cool! Finally, Coen van Zwol featured my work in an article with the NRC newspaper.

It’s always great to see articles about my work reach the national press. It’s another thing to see my superhero research make an impact. Of course I cannot take credit for all of the work as I’ve had the opportunity to work with some inspiring students and researchers at TU Delft and further afield.

I promise an in-depth blog about Avengers: Endgame in the near future. But unlike other publications online, this article is spoiler free.

Think super!

BWF

Daredevil and Super-Senses: Preview of Next Live Event

Daredevil and Super-Senses: Preview of Next Live Event
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A preview of BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode IV, which takes place at the Aula Auditorium on the TU Delft campus on Monday May 13th 2019 from 19.30 – 21.00.

The focus of Episode IV is on super-senses and Daredevil.

The podcast includes details of the speakers, Daredevil, and what to expect at Episode IV.

BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science is organised by Studium Generale Delft and BW Science, and is hosted by superhero scientist and TU Delft researcher Barry Fitzgerald (Twitter: @BWScienceNow).