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HindustanTimes Wed,22 Oct 2014

Facts be damned
Hindustan Times
July 11, 2012
First Published: 22:48 IST(11/7/2012)
Last Updated: 22:49 IST(11/7/2012)

It isn't really his brains and bravado, it seems, which has kept Batman alive and afloat all these years to fight evil. If a team of physicists from the University of Leicester are to be believed, it is but sheer luck that Batman did not drop to his death as he went around tackling an assortment of villains. The culprit, according to the researchers, is his somewhat faultily designed cape, which might let him glide across the menacing Gotham City skyline but will not let him land with any amount of safety. An urgent makeover is the need of the hour, whether it involves packing in a chute or using propulsion jets.

That researchers are interested in the flight safety of a cruising Batman liberates the superhero from more constricting confines, whether it is the covers of a book or the inaccessible reaches of the cinematic or gaming world. The larger-than-life heroism of superheroes had always owed to the fact that they could breach the restrictions of the physical world that felled their human counterparts. If the batman story-tellers over the ages made him pack a chute (and while we are at it, maybe a lunchbox and a thermos of decaf coffee?) or asked him to check the weather conditions or wait at the traffic lights before he took flight, chances are slim that he would have become the legendary do-gooder that he went on to become. Fantasy, at its best, is a flight of imagination and yoking mechanical accuracy to it is an idea whose time may never come.

But now with the research out in the public domain, there is nothing to prevent imitative efforts from being spawned. What, pray, would be the exact chemical composition of the web that Spi-derman spins, which guarantees such enormous tensile strength to allow him to swing from one skyscraper to another? Is there actually a way of creating adamantium, that indestructible metal alloy that gives Wolverine his prowess? Most of us, hemmed in by our limited human abilities, will be eagerly waiting for the results.


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