Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The science behind the cape: How one physiology researcher is using batman to put some POW! Into physiology studies

Date:
March 9, 2011
Source:
American Physiological Society
Summary:
What do you have when you line up a martial artist, acrobatic gymnast, police officer, firefighter, NASCAR driver, and NFL running back? "Watson," the IBM super-computer that recently routed humanity's best on Jeopardy might have guessed the answer was "the Village People," to which host Alex Trebek could have replied, "Sorry. The answer we were looking for is 'Batman'."

What do you have when you line up a martial artist, acrobatic gymnast, police officer, firefighter, NASCAR driver, and NFL running back? "Watson," the IBM super-computer that recently routed humanity's best on Jeopardy might have guessed the answer was "the Village People," to which host Alex Trebek could have replied, "Sorry. The answer we were looking for is "Batman." At least that is the correct answer for physiologist E. Paul Zehr.

In a new article, Zehr, a professor at the University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, describes his success in using the Caped Crusader to engage students in the study of physiology.

"Batman has such powerful resonance with readers because he is a (fictional) human with superpowers that seem within reach if we only work at it," writes Zehr in a new article published in Advances in Physiology Education, a journal of the American Physiological Society. Zehr believes that it is not Bruce Wayne's vast wealth that allows him to protect the citizens of Gotham City, but his dedication to developing a wide range of physical skills.

Zehr uses Batman to establish a framework, grounded in his fictional universe as well as our real one, in order to discuss the various components of exercise and physical training and illustrate how the body's physiological systems respond. His experiences in teaching undergraduate courses in physiology and neurophysiology made him realize that connecting science to popular culture helped students understand the lessons better.

He first presented a formal analysis of the personal and physical discipline that would be required to transform an ordinary mortal into a superhero in his book, Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero. The book drew on Zehr's understanding and work in human locomotion and the plasticity of nerves and muscles associated with exercise.

By coincidence, the book was published in the wake of The Dark Knight, the blockbuster movie which recounts Batman and his arch-enemy, the Joker.

With the casting almost complete for the sequel, The Dark Knight Rises, Dr. Zehr writes about his experiences connecting science to popular culture, which is captured in the Advances, article,"A Personal View: From Claude Bernard to the Batcave and Beyond: Using Batman as a hook for physiology education."

Batman: A Catalyst for Understanding Science

In the article, Zehr writes that far more Americans are aware of Bruce Wayne, the man behind the Batman mask, than Claude Bernard, a 19th century French physiologist who first established the use of the scientific method in medicine. Dr. Zehr certainly knew of Bernard, because for over 17 years he has published more than 70 scientific paper and hundreds of abstracts associated with his research into physiology and the science of body motion.

While Bernard used the tools of his day to explain science, Zehr says that Becoming Batman was the catalyst to adopting a new approach to his research efforts in neuroscience and human neurophysiology. The science of Batman is hardly, "silly science," as some might suggest, because the physiology behind Batman is the physiology of us all.

"The more that people understand science, and the physiology of things in particular, the better for everyone," says Zehr. To that end, he has written a second book in this genre, Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine, to be published later this year.Will he use a cyborg -- like the one best represented by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (T2) -- to explain science? The author, like Batman smiles enigmatically and says, "You will have to wait and see."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Physiological Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. P. Zehr. From Claude Bernard to the Batcave and beyond: using Batman as a hook for physiology education. AJP: Advances in Physiology Education, 2011; 35 (1): 1 DOI: 10.1152/advan.00120.2010

Cite This Page:

American Physiological Society. "The science behind the cape: How one physiology researcher is using batman to put some POW! Into physiology studies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308172956.htm>.
American Physiological Society. (2011, March 9). The science behind the cape: How one physiology researcher is using batman to put some POW! Into physiology studies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308172956.htm
American Physiological Society. "The science behind the cape: How one physiology researcher is using batman to put some POW! Into physiology studies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308172956.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Commercial aircraft deliveries rose seven percent at Boeing, prompting the aerospace company to boost full-year profit guidance- though quarterly revenues missed analyst estimates. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

Reuters - US Online Video (July 22, 2014) Ten years after releasing its initial report, members of the 9/11 Commission warn of the "waning sense of urgency" in combating terrorists attacks. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins