The Secret Science of Superheroes
CHAPTER 6: The Real World Super Metal
Published:01 Aug 2017
Special Collection: RSC Popular Science eBook CollectionProduct Type: Popular Science
Paul R. Coxon, 2017. "The Real World Super Metal", The Secret Science of Superheroes, Mark Lorch, Andy Miah
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Other chapters in this book have spent a good deal of time speculating about the nature of comic book supermaterials. They have looked at the fictional vibranium, imagined how graphene might be used within supersuits, theorized on how research on memory materials could lead to such creations as Batman’s wing suits, and discussed meta-materials that might make the wearer invisible. My fellow authors have done a sterling job of linking the science fiction of superheroes with the science fact that exists in labs around the world. Maybe, in the not too distant future, that lab-based science will morph into technologies not dissimilar to those of the comic books. However, amongst all the speculation on what might be possible in the future, perhaps we’ve overlooked materials that are already ‘super’; elements without which much of the modern world’s technologies would not exist. Many of these elements are also in short supply, and so we could really do with a superhero to deploy their powers and manufacture some more. This chapter explores one specific case of these materials, lithium, to show just how amazing our world is already, before we even get into science fiction.