Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine

Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine

by E. Paul Zehr


View All Available Formats & Editions
Usually ships within 6 days


Tony Stark has been battling bad guys and protecting innocent civilians since he first donned his mechanized armor in the 1963 debut of Iron Man in Marvel Comics. Over the years, Stark’s suit has allowed him to smash through walls, fly through the air like a human jet, control a bewildering array of weaponry by thought alone, and perform an uncountable number of other fantastic feats. The man who showed us all what it would take to become Batman probes whether science—and humankind—is up to the task of inventing a real-life Iron Man.

E. Paul Zehr physically deconstructs Iron Man to find out how we could use modern-day technology to create a suit of armor similar to the one Stark made. Applying scientific principles and an incredibly creative mind to the question, Zehr looks at how Iron Man’s suit allows Stark to become a superhero. He discusses the mind-boggling and body-straining feats Iron Man performed to defeat villains like Crimson Dynamo, Iron Monger, and Whiplash and how such acts would play out in the real world. Zehr finds that science is nearing the point where a suit like Iron Man’s could be made. But superherodom is not just about technology. Zehr also discusses our own physical limitations and asks whether an extremely well-conditioned person could use Iron Man’s armor and do what he does.

A scientifically sound look at brain-machine interfaces and the outer limits where neuroscience and neural plasticity meet, Inventing Iron Man is a fun comparison between comic book science fiction and modern science. If you’ve ever wondered whether you have what it takes to be the ultimate human-machine hero, then this book is for you.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421402260
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 10/01/2011
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 795,254
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

E. Paul Zehr is a professor of neuroscience and kinesiology at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and the author of Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero, also published by Johns Hopkins. For more information about finding your inner superhero, visit

Table of Contents

Foreword, by Warren Ellis
Preface: The Stark Reality of Robotics
Part I: It's More Than Skin Deep: Tony learns to live inside a suit of iron
1. Origins of the Iron Knight: Bionics, Robotic Armor, and Anthropomorphic Suits
2. Building the Body with Biology: When the Man of Metal Needs to Muscle In
3. Accessing the Brain of the Armored Avenger: Can We Connect the Cranium to a Computer?
The First De cades of Iron: "He Lives! He Walks! He Conquers!"
Part II: Use It or Lose It: Will time tarnish the Golden Avenger?
4. Multitasking and the Metal Man: How Much Can Iron Man's Mind Manage?
5. Softening Up a Superhero: Why the Man with a Suit of Iron Could Get a Jelly Belly
6. Brain Drain: Will Tony's Gray Matter Give Way?
The Next De cades of Iron: "I Can Envision the Future"
Part III: Armored Avenger in Action: If we build it, what will come?
7. Trials and Tribulations of the Tin Man: What Happens When the Human Machine Breaks Down
8. Visions of the Vitruvian Man: Is Invention Really Only One Part Inspiration?
9. Deal or No Deal? Could Iron Man Exist?
Appendix: Ten Momentous Moments of the Metal Man

What People are Saying About This

from the foreword by Warren Ellis

This wonderful book lays out... the only true way to see the Iron Man—as a prosthesis... a book that educates and delights. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Dennis O'Neil

E. Paul Zehr, surely one of the coolest of professors, has done something interesting, enlightening, and maybe just a bit quixotic. He has built a bridge between the fantasy science of superhero comics and the eyes-front innovations of real-life technological innovators. It is a primer on what's possible now and what might soon become possible in our world and what Iron Man's been up to in his.

Dennis O'Neil, Iron Man writer and editor

Stan Lee

Back in the sixties, when I first dreamed up the concept of Iron Man, I thought, 'What if a man had a suit of armor, like the knights of old—but modern armor that housed all sorts of miniaturized, technical weaponry? Such a man would seem to be the ultimate superhero.' At first, I didn't give much thought to what that suit of armor might mean to the man inside—how it might affect his body and/or his brain and subtly blur the line between human and machine. But now, almost 40 years later, E. Paul Zehr has tackled that very subject. Inventing Iron Man is his fascinating vision of the real-life implications of my original concept.

Stan Lee, comic icon and creator of Iron Man

Customer Reviews

Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Prety nice
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh dam is it factul foo Iz so dan factual yo
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it would be good the sample stinks its a bunch of sayings from iron man comicsl