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Inventing Iron Man


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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 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 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. -- from the foreword by Warren Ellis

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

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


Like a true costumed hero, Zehr masks learning in the guise of pop culture enthusiasm... a perfect source to learn about the history of Iron Man and the strength and limits of the human body and brain. Zehr's university-based research includes neuroplasticity, akin to neural rewiring, associated with exercise training and rehabilitation. This expertise, combined with Zehr's childlike curiosity and proficiency in martial arts, makes Inventing Iron Man-along with Becoming Batman before it-a fascinating exploration of human potential. -- Christopher Wanjek A unique and much recommended read for anyone with an interest in the reality of super science. Midwest Book Review Highly commended to all who enjoy a look into the world of superheroes-but science nerds will like it, too. -- Steven King The Pilot The character of Iron Man represents a compelling and culturally popular interpretation of what may be possible in the future with enhanced prosthetic devices. Choice A fine pick for science fiction and science holdings alike. Midwest Book Review

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