Secrets of Superhero Science at IFoT

With Wonder Woman being released in cinemas around the world this month, many of you might be dreaming of super-strength, bullet-proof bracelets or even the lasso of truth.

On Wednesday 7th June, the symposium " Secrets of Superhero Science" will take place at TU Delft as part of the International Festival of Technology (IFoT). This symposium will focus on Superhero Science and the possibility of creating superpowers in the future including bulletproof materials that could replicate Wonder Woman's bulletproof bracelets.

It's been a real adventure putting the event together in conjunction with the great team involved in the organisation of the IFoT in Delft. I've got to say I'm very much looking forward to hosting the event, hearing what the speakers have to say about their work and how their work relates to creating superpowers and hearing from the audience during and after the event.

I promise a fun, entertaining and educational event and I hope to see you there.



NRC Weekend Covers the Secrets of Superhero Science

It's just under 2 and half weeks from the Secrets of Superhero Science symposium at the International Festival of Technology, and I've got to say I'm pretty excited about it. The preparations are going well and I've spoken to all of the speakers over the last few weeks. I can't wait to hear what they have to say and hopefully there'll be a big crowd present on the day to hear about their amazing research and the link with superpower technologies.

In the lead up to the event I'm hoping that there'll be some media coverage. Over the past weekend the first article about the conference was published in the NRC Weekend on the page "De Kleine Wetenschap", a page of articles on science for younger readers. The article was written by Karel Berkhout. You can find the article below. However it's in Dutch so my apologises to those without Dutch.


Secrets of Superhero Science at the International Festival of Technology at TU Delft

Since I published my book "Secrets of Superhero Science" back in February last year it's been an exciting superhero-filled superpower-fuelled adventure. And the adventure continues to astound!

Next month as part of the International Festival of Technology I will be hosting the 1st ever symposium on Superhero Science. The symposium - Secrets of Superhero Science - will bring together speakers from various fields to discuss their work and the implications for possible superpowers in the future. There will genetics, 3D bioprinting, exoskeletons, bullet-proof materials, nano-vision and ethics. I've got to say I'm hugely excited about the event and can't wait to host the incredible speakers I've got lined up for the symposium. A full list of the speakers can be found right here.

Stay tuned for more updates on the event over the coming days and weeks. It's going to be super!




Secrets of Superhero Science: An Overview for Spui 25

In February I was asked to speak as part of a public debate/discussion at Spui 25, the academic and cultural podium in Amsterdam. The date for been set for June 12th and I'm very much looking forward to speaking at the event. As part of the event I've written a short text motivating the talk/discussion. You can check it out here. It'll give you a general idea of what will be spoken about at the event. If you're in Amsterdam on June 12th it would be great to see you there.

Secrets of Superhero Science: Are we ready for superpowers?

We find ourselves in the middle of a cinematic superhero revolution that shows no signs of abating. Superhero films are big business, as demonstrated by their box office receipts. For example the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War became the 12th highest grossing film of all time when it made more than $1.1 billion dollars at the worldwide box office. By the year 2020 we will see the release of 25 (or more) superhero films. The superhero genre is very much here to stay.

One of the driving forces behind the success of the superhero film is the escapism it provides to a fictitious world jam-packed with people possessing superpowers that are seemingly beyond the real world. Invariably many of the audience have, at one time or another, envisaged having a superpower of some sort be it an Iron Man suit, the regenerative healing powers of Wolverine or Deadpool, the power of invisibility possessed by Sue Storm or the ability to shrink like Ant-Man. Superpowers would allow us to do things we do not normally see on an daily basis.

Thanks to modern scientific and engineering research, the superpowers of the superheroes may no longer be reserved for cinema. Humanity stands on the cusp of a superpower future with scientists and engineers working on some astounding research projects that could produce superpower technology as a viable spin-off. For example, thanks to advanced genetic editing techniques like the CRISPR/Cas system, in the future we could bioengineer some of the X-Men characters. A number inventors and engineers are developing technologies to mimic a flying Iron Man suit while other researchers have turned to graphene or spider silk to create advanced bullet-proof materials. Thanks to these technological endeavours we could see superpower technologies sooner rather than later.

Before superpowers can be introduced into society though we must ensure that laws, policies or protocols are put in place to safeguard society. We need to introduce these technologies in a safe manner and accurately assess their impact before their introduction. In Captain America: Civil War the United Nations introduces a set of accords to monitor or control superpower activity after a number of events around the world lead to significant collateral damage. This is a case of the “cart before the horse”. Many may contend that the manner of the introduction of the accords is contentious. But the film does provide a valuable lesson that can be applied to not only superpower technologies but also future technological advancements. We must predict, to the best of our ability, the implications of superpowers or new technologies on society. In addition they should be introduced in a manner that facilitates both integration with society and easy adaptations. Undoubtedly there will be ethical hurdles on our path to superpowers and these should be met with the respect that they merit. Nonetheless cautious progressions could in many ways hinder the development of society, and as a result delay the superpower/superhero era.

Are you ready for a superpower future?

Are you ready for the great power and great responsibility?

Are you ready to unlock the Secrets of Superhero Science?


Biosensors/Secrets of Superhero Science at Physics at Veldhoven

It's March 1st. Where did January and February go? Time flies when you're working working.

Yesterday I managed to see a pre-screening of Logan in Eindhoven. I won't delving into the film right now (I'll do that at a later date) but all I'll say is that both Jackman and Patrick Stewart were impeccable in the film, a testament to their portrayal of these two famous X-Men characters.

Back in January (seems like a long time ago now) I presented a series of experiments at Physics@Veldhoven, a huge conference for all of the physics researchers in the Netherlands. These experiments were all superhero-themed and the photographer for the event took some quite memorable photos from the event. Over the next few days I'll be sharing some of the images with you and giving a brief overview of the experiments that were presented. For each experiment BW Science linked up with a  business or university in the Netherlands to present their work with a tangible link to superheroes.

First up it's biosensors. The Iron Man suit is one of the greatest inventions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It is the ultimate wearable technology and allows Tony Stark, the inventor and principle wearer, to fly and fire weapons as he desires. In addition to being an incredible suit, it is also makes use of advanced biosensors that monitors Stark's bodily functions round-the-clock.

The vision of personalised medicine is that of miniature biosensors for personal sensing near, on, or inside the body. SensUs, a competition organised by students at TU Eindhoven, has the aim of stimulating innovation in biosensing worldwide. The first competition took place in 2016 during which five teams developed biosensors to monitor creatinine, a waste product biomarker that is normally filtered by the kidneys, in the blood. Team T.E.S.T. from TU Eindhoven took part in the competition and went home with one of the competition awards. It was a fantastic competition and as Master of Ceremonies for the final in September 2016 I sampled the event firsthand.

For my Physics@Veldhoven experiments members of the T.E.S.T. team and Menno Prins of TU Eindhoven brought along there ingenious biosensor to display, a biosensor smaller than a smartphone and one that can be connected to a smartphone to give a digital interpretation of the biological data. The development of devices like this can have huge benefits for health care in the future. But it might also hold the key towards the development of biosensors for a future Iron Man-like suit.


Writing with the Avengers in TU Delft Delta magazine

In late November last year I was contacted by Heather Montague who writes a column entitled "Avocations" for TU Delft's Delta magazine. Heather expressed an interest in writing an article about me and my writing hobby outside of academia. Of course I was delighted to be asked about the article and the interview was done in early December along with a photograph of myself in writing action.

On Monday 6th February, the article along with the photo were published on the back of the TU Delta magazine for February. The article describes my writing adventures so far and the publication of my books about the science of superheroes and Santa Claus. The photo shows me in the middle of a writing binge surrounded by some of the Avengers. I am indeed in the middle of writing my 3rd book so watch this space for updates over the next few months.

You can check out the article online on the avocations page of the TU Delta magazine.

Below is an image of the full article and picture.


Awaiting the Superhero Extravaganza

It seems that 2017 is rocketing by with the end of January fast approaching. While many are still grappling with New Years resolutions and others planning their summer holidays, I find myself these days impatiently waiting for the start of the Superhero Cinematic Adventures for 2017.

While many will include the new Power Rangers film in their superhero list I'm limiting myself to the superhero films from Marvel and DC. This year all four film studios - Fox, Warner Bros., Sony and Disney - will be releasing at least one superhero adventure over the course of the year.

But before we get a chance to see Thor and the Hulk team up in Thor:Ragnarok or Batman recruit the Flash, Cyborg and Aquanman for the Justice League, the first film to kick-off the superhero extravaganza for 2017 will be Logan, which is released at the start of March. The film sees Hugh Jackman take on the role of Wolverine for one last time on the big screen (Naturally many, including me, are holding out hope that Ryan Reynolds can convince Jackman to return for a Deadpool-Wolverine crossover film in the future). Jackman is joined by Patrick Stewart who plays Professor Xavier. Set in the year 2029, the film follows the fortunes of Xavier and Jackman in a desolate future where mutants seem to have vanished, bar Wolverine and Professor X.

I must admit that I was a little disappointed with the first two Wolverine films and that Wolverine has had his best moments in the ensemble films, in particular X-Men:Days of Future Past. Fingers crossed that Logan delivers and that the fans will have a Wolverine cinematic adventure to truly appreciate.

As we close in on the first superhero film of the year I'm busy working on new materials for my 2017 workshops. I've got some exciting ideas already in place. I'll keep you posted on these in the coming weeks and months.


Secrets Soars into 2017 with Studium Generale talk in Eindhoven

So it's 2017 and it's another year. After an epic 2016 and a very busy promotion schedule at the end of the year for "Secret Science of Santa Claus" 2017 kicked off with a talk in de Blauwe Zaal at TU Eindhoven as part of the program for Stadium Generale.

An audience of more than 200 people attended and met by a wave of superhero facts, trivia and clips as the talk opened with a trailer for the highly anticipated Spider-Man: Homecoming which reaches cinemas in July 2017. After testing their superhero knowledge, the audience were taken on a short tour of the science behind possibly creating the superpowers of their favourite heroes.

The Vision, Iron Man, the Invisible Woman and Spider-Man were all the subject of discussion. And the powers of these four superheroes will also be the subject of a huge presentation I'm giving next week at the Physics@Veldhoven conference. Stay tuned for further updates over the coming days on that event!


Cursor Puts Science of Santa Claus in the Spotlight

This year has been a remarkable year. While many will wave goodbye to 2016 with a level of distain and good riddance I've got to say from a personal point of view it's been a good year. Naturally I acknowledge that we have lost many great artists and actors this year while on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean there was an interesting battle for the presidency that ended with a surprising result. But yes this year has been a good year for me in terms of BW Science.

Back in March, the Cursor Magazine/Newspaper put my mug on the cover in recognition of my first book "Secrets of Superhero Science". The cover image of me in a laboratory in the ICMS building at TU/e was accompanied by a great article within the pages of the Cursor. Naturally I was very happy with their coverage of the book so when I published "Secret Science of Santa Claus" I contacted Judith van Gaal once more about writing an article on my second book.

Although I am officially based at TU Delft I am also a visiting researcher at TU Eindhoven and value my time, continuing collaborations and friends there greatly. I met with Judith earlier this month and we had a great chat about Santa Claus and the amazing science behind his Christmas Eve deliveries.

On the back of that interview Judith wrote a fantastic article for the Cursor which has appeared in the latest version of the magazine/newspaper. And like the first time I've made the cover the newspaper! Absolutely delighted to have done so and many thanks to Judith for writing a great article.

Here's the article to read if you wish. It's mainly in Dutch but there is some English text in there as well.

As you can see the layout is unique with a Christmas tree made from Christmas decorations. Very cool indeed. If you get a chance have a read of the article.



Secret Science of Santa Claus in the Limerick Leader

Last week the Limerick Leader published an article about my new book "Secret Science of Santa Claus". The article is now online to read. You can read the article here.