Bam! Science Inspired by Superheroes

By Eric Roston - 2013-12-17T14:48:54Z

Photograph by 20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

9 of 18

Wolverine's Skeleton

Logan’s life was weird enough before renegade military doctors coated his entire skeleton with the indestructible metal adamantium (Marvel’s play on the same root shared by “adamant” and “diamond”). Latent mutant powers had manifested themselves when he was a boy, enabling Logan, aka Wolverine of the X-Men, to heal spontaneously. Also, claws shoot out of his fists when he gets mad. 

The medical community can’t coat bones directly to make them stronger. That’s why soccer players, baseball catchers and armored medieval knights still have to wear awkward bone-protection equipment on the outside

A new group of glassy metallic alloys might have some promise here. Called “amorphous bulk metallic glasses,” these materials start out as liquid then cool quickly into a hard, glassy form that could be of use in medical devices and implants, and in surgical equipment. Currently, surgeons use metals like stainless steel or titanium for implants to replace hips and knees. Metallic glasses are potentially stronger for those uses, wear well and resist corrosion. 

Neither materials scientists nor doctors can make claws shoot out of your fists.

Left, X-Men, 2000.