Tony Stark might be my favorite superhero simply because he proves that science and engineering can be superpowers in and of themselves (if you happen to have billions to blow on mech suits). An Iron Man suit is a relatively minor extrapolation from what our best builders can accomplish now, not a gift from Asgard. But donning one of Tony’s suit would be a literal death sentence unless Stark also added an additional super-engineered-power that we almost never think about…
In my latest Because Science, I’m rocketing across some familiar ground and looking at Iron Man’s immunity to G-forces. If you’ve ever seen Tony fly around, you know that he can blast off at hundreds of miles per hour and then make the kinds of twists and turns that would kill any fighter pilot. But how? The Gs Tony would pull should kill him, but they don’t. That little piece of information could have big ramifications for Captain America: Civil War—it may actually be impossible to ever knock out Iron Man in a fight.
But how? Well, nature already figured out how to make a head that’s immune to concussions, and it sits atop the humble woodpecker’s body. These little dinosaurs can endure an astounding 1,200 Gs each time their skull hits wood, which can happen up to 22 times in a given second. If Tony Stark were to look anywhere for inspiration in developing his suits, he should start with the woodpecker’s skull.
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