Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Batman's gliding method debunked - The Press Association

Batman's gliding method debunked

Batman could fly, but he wouldn't survive the landing because his wingspan is too short, according to researchers.

Four students from the University of Leicester have calculated that the superhero's method of using his cape to glide from tall buildings would result in him hitting the ground at life-threatening speeds.

In the film Batman Begins, the caped crusader, played by Christian Bale, wears a cape which becomes rigid when a current is passed through it, allowing him to glide over Gotham City in a similar manner to a base jumper in a wingsuit.

But after doing the maths, the students claim Batman would be lucky to survive on reaching the ground and advised he use a parachute the next time he is out fighting crime.

David Marshall, Tom Hands, Ian Griffiths and Gareth Douglas found that the wingspan of Batman's cape - at 4.7 metres - is around half that used by a hang glider.

The team found that if Batman jumped from a building 492ft (150m) high, he could successfully glide a distance of around 1,148ft (350m). But he probably wouldn't survive the landing, due to the high speeds reached during his descent.

The students calculated that his impact with the ground would be equivalent to him being struck by a car travelling at 50mph.

Mr Marshall, 22, said: "If Batman wanted to survive the flight, he would definitely need a bigger cape. Or if he preferred to keep his style intact he could opt for using active propulsion, such as jets to keep himself aloft.

"If he really wanted to stick with tradition he could follow the method of Gary Connery, who recently became the first person to glide to the ground from a helicopter using only a wingsuit, although he only made it down safely using a large number of cardboard boxes."

Course leader Dr Mervyn Roy, a lecturer at the University's Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: "If he had bigger wings he would be fine, like someone in a hang glider. But Batman wouldn't stand too much of a chance with wings this short due to the speeds he would be travelling at."

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