“How to Build an Iron Man Suit” Visits Comicasa

Speaking at Comicasa, Feb 21st 2020
Speaking at Comicasa, Enschede, the Netherlands, February 21st 2020

It’s always good to visit home, to where it all started. In terms of my adventures in the Netherlands, home, and where it all started back in 2012, is Enschede. While I lived there the seeds for my superhero escapades were sown, and I couldn’t have imagined speaking about my new book “How to Build an Iron Man Suit” for the first time in the Netherlands anywhere else. On Friday February 21st I did just that when I spoke at the fantastic Comicasa comic book store – a must visit for fans of superheroes and more.

Those in attendance were first treated to a “Iron Man 101” course delivered splendidly by Robert van der Weide-Zeelenberg. Robert outlined the history of the character Iron Man including his inauspicious start at Marvel Comics as well as the evolution of the character and some of the suits that have featured in comic book issues over the years.

Then it was my turn to speak about the science and technology behind the development of an Iron Man suit. The audience experienced the wonder of an exoskeleton suit, EEG brainwave-reading technologies, advanced wound healing treatments, and lots more. Specific scenes from the films were very much in the spotlight, which seemed to please the comic book and film-loving audience no end. The end of the talk was marked by an open discussion on the technological tribulations behind developing a real Iron Man-like suit, and whether such a technology would be of benefit to society.

Many thanks to Robert, Peter, and everyone at Comicasa for hosting the talk. My new book “How to Build an Iron Man Suit“, as well as my other books, are available to purchase at Comicasa. And be sure to visit the store to experience the comic book ambience. It’s such a cool place to sit down and read a comic book or ten.

Stay tuned for more Iron Man banter.

Always think super!

BWF

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.

Avengers Infinity War is Coming

Barry Fitzgerald Avengers Infinity War Secrets of Superhero Science

At this very moment in time, I am sitting in my hotel in Seattle about to set out and explore the city. I arrived here yesterday afternoon after a two-day roadtrip from San Francisco via the beautiful coast of the state of Oregon. In the middle of my roadtrip the latest trailer for Avengers: Infinity War was released to much fanfare and appraisal. While some contend that too much has been revealed in the trailer, most people have been invigorated with enthusiasm for the upcoming film release.

Avengers: Infinity War will pit the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Ant-Man (I hope) against the mad titan Thanos, who is hellbent on acquiring the Infinity stones so that he may “balance the universe”. To balance the universe he intends to wipe out half of all the inhabitants of the universe, which means half of planet Earth.

The trailer reveals a lot, including the last stand of the Avengers in Wakanda. In addition there is a nod towards potential deaths in the trailer, with Iron Man and Captain America both in one-on-one combat with Thanos near the end of the trailer.

However, both Ant-Man and Hawkeye are notably missing from the trailer. I have feeling that this is intentional. If not, then they play no major part in the film, which is a shame considering they are two great characters.

Nonetheless, Avengers: Infinity War is sure to be a big hit when it is released next month. The posters and the billboards are making their appearances in the US already and the excitement over the film is climbing towards fever pitch.

I plan to write further on Infinity War over the coming weeks, so stayed tuned for further thoughts and blog posts.

BWF

A Superhero Year Ahead: Starting with Black Panther

It’s been a while since I added to post to the site. Sorry for the delay, it’s been a hectic start to 2018.

This year will see a number of superhero films released starting with next week’s Black Panther film. I’ve got my ticket, have you?

Already this year I’ve spoken at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) and opened Saxion’s International Project Week in Enschede. The combined audience number from the two events was more 1,200 people, which is incredible.

Next up I’m off to the US to speak about superheroes (and my current research at TU Delft) at the American Physical Society (APS) meeting in LA in March. And after that I’m really looking forward to speaking at the Mountain to Sea Book Festival in Dublin on March 23rd and March 25th.

Finally this year has started out incredibly in terms of my academic and superhero research. I had a paper published with regards to Hawkeye from the Avengers in Advances in Physiology Education. You can check out the paper here. I’ll write more about this article soon.

And yes. Thanos is coming. More soon

BWF

Ireland Amazes for Science Week

This morning I was up bright and early. Just before 7 am. Due to my incredibly busy schedule it was the only time that I could grab a quick run. As I ran around Waterford City with the sunrise approaching, the reflected of light of Venus was obvious just above the cloudless horizon, reminding the early morning commuters and runners/walkers that it still existed.

As I ran out of People’s Park I reflected on the past week. A week of 29 talks and more than 1,750 km driven on the roads of Ireland. It’s been a superhero-powered rollercoaster. Ranging from talks in Limerick to speaking on the stage at the Iontas Theatre in Castleblayney in Co. Monaghan where Christy Moore will perform over the coming days, it has been a memorable adventure. Superheroes and superpowers have been the centre of attention but the real superheroes and superstars have been the audiences – they make it all worth while.

For example, this morning I gave superhero talks in Dungarvan Co. Waterford. My first talk was to a an-girl 5th class group (10 and 11 years old) from a primary school. Their positivity and interest in science and superheroes was fantastic and hopefully some of the students will consider a career in STEM subjects in the future. One or two of the students were exceptional with some of them coming up with very creative ways of creating superpowers and even managing superpowers in the future. There may be no need for the Sokovia Accords from Captain America: Civil War in the real world thanks to the ideas of these students.

The superhero talks continue over the coming days. Tomorrow I’m in Edgeworthstown to speak at the Midlands Science Festival and next week I’m back in Dublin for more talks. My adventure finishes next week with a talk in Co. Clare.

It’s so refreshing to meet so many people that are passionate about science, superheroes and the STEM subjects. Fingers crossed that some will be inspired to follow a science or engineering career after seeing some of the workshops this week.

Think super.

BWF

In the midst of my talk at the Iontas Theatre in Castleblayney. I don’t I’ve ever seen a bigger version of that picture before! (November 14th 2017)

Superheroes and a boxing ring on Chapel Lane

Yesterday my Science Week adventure got kick-started with a talk at the Ennis Community Centre with one of the most unique aspects of the talk being the venue.

First, it was a little cold in there but given that I was jumping around during the presentation I didn’t really feel it. Second, there was a boxing ring right behind me, the gladiator arena used by Ennis Boxing Club when not hosting outreach talks about the prospects of a superpower-future. And finally all of this took place in an old chapel on of course – Chapel Lane. I’ve got to say it was a truly unique setting to give a talk about superheroes and superpowers.

There was a strong turnout for a bright but cold November Sunday afternoon for the talk. Plenty of curious minds and plenty of questions about having superpowers in the future. This year I’ve printed two postcards with red and green backs that I use during the workshops to do unofficial surveying. The highlights from the survey are that most people would like to have the eyesight of Hawkeye while not many are too keen on being cry-preserved in the future like the Winter Soldier. Probably deterred by the frosty ambience of the venue to be honest.

Onwards today to the University of Limerick and Thomond secondary school in Limerick before making the journey north for the Cavan-Monaghan Science Festival and further superhero presentations there tomorrow. The final presentation takes place just before kick-off of the Rep. of Ireland – Denmark World Cup playoff. I might need superpowers to see any part of it!

Think fast. Think super.

BWF

Science Week 2017 Begins in Ennis

Time flies when you’re doing science. In the blink of an eye Science Week Ireland has come around once again and I’ve a seriously busy week ahead of me. In fact Science Week started in earnest for me last week with a school visit to Castletroy College in Limerick.

For this year’s Science Week I’ll be presenting some brand new superhero-superpower based research from researchers around the world, some of whom I know from my research career in the Netherlands and Ireland.

There’ll be lots of clips and references to the films, in particular the upcoming superhero films such as Justice League, which is released this coming week, Black Panther, which is out in February, and of course the film all superhero fans are talking about – Avengers: Infinity War.

First off this week I’m going to be in Ennis, Co. Clare to talk about the “Secrets of Superhero Science”. If you’re in the area and interested in hearing about some fascinating superhero-based science then drop by.

Over the coming days I’ll keep you updated on my progress as I make my way around Ireland for Science Week 2017.

Think Super.

BWF

Article on BBC Science Focus about Iron Man and Non-Spherical Particles

Most of the time my fundamental research at TU Delft and my superhero work walk side by side with no obvious overlap between the two topics. However, earlier this year, one of the PhD students in our group published a very nice paper about drag forces experienced by non-spherical particles in fluid flows. In the paper, they found that the drag force experienced by a particle in the flow could be calculated for any orientation of the particle provided you know the drag force when the particle is parallel to the flow and perpendicular to the flow.

Now like many science papers it is very technical but with some very nice illustrations and diagrams. After I read the paper I got the idea to write a popular science article about the work and link it to the drag forces that Iron Man might experience. When Tony Stark is in the suit he sort of looks like a non-spherical particle in a way.

The article was published last week on BBC Science Focus Online magazine and can be read here. The article has even shared the front page for some time with an article about Stephen Hawking. You can see this in the image below with my article on the bottom right of the image.

Stay tuned as I’ve another article in the pipeline.

BWF

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.

BWF