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Physics/Real Iron Man


QUESTION: Are we anywhere close to an actual Iron Man suit, or anything that advanced? I mean, MIT recently just came out with specifications for a relatively small reactor that could generate clean fusion energy, that might be up and running in 10 years. Although it can provide this clean energy to about 100,000 people at first. Isn't that the MAIN issue for building an Iron Man suit, a powerful energy supply? If Fusion reaction (thereby generating unlimited clean energy) happens in 20 years, then it will be able to be miniaturized, like Stark's arc reactor.

I mean, we have super durable and super strong metals/alloys, we have technology like Stark's advanced user interface helmet, we are in early stages of language processing AI like Jarvis. That's only SOME of it, I know, but things like flying and repulsor rays are still a mystery.

Even if clean energy is a reality in a few decades (because people keep saying the power source is the BIGGEST problem), is actually engineering an Iron Man suit like in the comics a real possibility in our lifetime?

ANSWER: We are not close to such a complete set of hyper-advanced technologies...not just one.  We're not close to any of them, the repulsor, the power source, and you can't miniaturize radiation shielding.  The computer AI is the closest thing to reality we've got.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: How many years would you say we'd be close to anything close to something this advanced? All capabilities included.

That kind of pure speculation I prefer to leave to the NY Times' "science" section.  You'd have to go piece by piece to get any reasonable estimate.  The power source/shielding combination, for example, may be just strictly impossible.  You're asking a question that can't be answered, there are too many pieces of technology to try to separate.

And anyone who says they have a reliable estimate for you is lying...or ridiculously overconfident.


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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