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Saturday, May 21, 2022 

Scientific mixtures

Chemical & Engineering News wrote about how science is employed in comics, and how it can be put to use in education as well:
This Newscriptster has always loved a good fantasy epic or sci-fi adventure as an escape from ordinary reality. But sometimes it’s fun to mix fantasy and reality. In fact, there’s a whole subgenre of science communication exploring how stuff from books and movies stacks up against real-world science.

“Movies are cool, everybody’s watching those, everybody can talk about them,” says Ricardo Castro, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California, Davis. He’s taught an intro-level engineering class based on Marvel comics and movies since 2016. Bringing his love of superheroes into his lectures “opened a whole new universe” for connecting with students—especially those who wouldn’t normally sign up for an engineering course.

One of the materials Castro discusses in his class is vibranium: the main component of Captain America’s shield and Black Panther’s suit and part of a long-standing tradition of miraculous metals in fantasy and sci-fi that are superstrong but lightweight. Discussions about real-world analogs often start with titanium, which is about as strong as steel but half as dense, then move on to talking about composites and alloys in which small amounts of other elements can add strength to a metal without changing the weight much.
Read more at the site. It's certainly an impressive way to put fantasy to use in discussing science, yet a terrible shame the modern comics starring these protagonists don't live up to expectations, which would make it a lot more engaging, and even the movies are beginning to come apart at the seams. That's why I hope the guy just employs older stories in his classes for the educational ingredients. It's far better to do it that way.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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