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The hilarious phyiscs of Iron Man

  1. Jul 8, 2010 #1
    (skip this paragraph if you just want the math) I had some free time today, so I thought I'd toy with the impossible hilarity of the Arc Reactor from the Iron Man films. My first line of calculation was on the magnetic field that would be generated if 1/10th of the power output (3 gigawatts!) were to travel through the length of wire coming out of the generator.

    P= 3x10^8 watts
    V* = 250 V

    P=IV --> P/V=I --> (3x10^8 watts)/(250 V) --> 1,200,000 Amps

    I= 1,200,000 Amps
    R**= .05 m

    B= UiI/2PiR = (4π×10−7 (NA^-2))(1,200,000 A)/(2π(.05m))
    B= 2.4 Teslas

    *(I chose this number from the voltage of an industrial electromagnet)
    **(roughly the distance to his heart)

    Now assuming this math is correct so far, how could I measure the magnetic force on the iron particles in the blood? The volume of the heart is .28 M^3 and there is ~160 grams of iron per liter, meaning there's 44.8 grams finely dispersed in solution. My guess is there's a very simple equation to figure this out, but as of now I don't know of any.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2010 #2
    WOW, 120 some views and no comments........................

    Enlighten those of us who cant remember the "Arc Reactor" details.

    This is the thing on his chest, it inductively pumps blood, because of his damaged heart?

    "If" movement of blood through the use of magnetic fields is the question, here are some thoughts of mine.

    1. Research the "floating frog" in the static magnetic field.

    2. Iron may not be the primary component causing magnetic field induced blood flow, blood is salty as I recall. Here is another approach, Magnetohydrodynamic drive,

    "An electric current is passed through seawater in the presence of an intense magnetic field, which interacts with the magnetic field of the current through the water. Functionally, the seawater is then the moving, conductive part of an electric motor. Pushing the water out the back accelerates the vehicle in the forward direction":


    Perhaps these thoughts will get this thread moving...........................
  4. Jul 9, 2010 #3
    Perhaps it has 3GW potential but he can control how many watts it is generating.


    He is just using the magnet to keep the iron shavings from flowing into his heart, not to pump any blood.
  5. Jul 9, 2010 #4

    You mean superheros are not based on real physics? I'm shocked. :surprised
  6. Jul 9, 2010 #5
    No, just shocked at lack of effort to try and apply some "real" Physics, or address his calculations positively or negetively.
  7. Jul 9, 2010 #6
    Thanks for clarification.
  8. Jul 9, 2010 #7
    Well, I guess I would have to address them negatively, assuming I understand the logic put forth.

    A current of 1.2 MAmps is going to instantly vaporize any conductor, and kill anyone in direct contact with it. Hence, the steady state current is zero, the magnetic field is zero, the force on the iron is zero, and our superhero is dead.

    Well OK, he's a super hero, so he won't be directly killed, but will only die when his Achilles heel is exposed, as a direct result of the system failure.
  9. Jul 9, 2010 #8
    Actually there's nothing special about Iron Man - he doesn't have any super powers. The only thing that makes him a super hero is his magic metal suit.

    I had to laugh when I saw the second film and he made an ad hoc particle accelerator in his basement and created a new element. As you do.
  10. Jul 9, 2010 #9
    You've never done that?
  11. Jul 10, 2010 #10
    Sadly no. It's on my to-do list though.
  12. Jul 10, 2010 #11
    It's a comic book character.

    Stop being sad.
  13. Jul 12, 2010 #12
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2010
  14. Jul 12, 2010 #13


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    Well, I don't know if they've changed it for the movie but, originally, the device simply magnetically stopped a piece of shrapnel from penetrating his heart. There was nothing about induction pumping.

    Last edited: Jul 12, 2010
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