Science-y stuff: The Avengers

Avengers' Poster

Epic cast, epic movie!

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to write a post on The Avengers. I would like to say just how awesome this movie was to see. It exceeded my expectations (which weren’t set that high from the sub-standard Thor and average Captain America) by blowing them out the water! And of course having Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t hurt. Man’s too epic in those cocky roles like Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes. AND it had the main chap from The Hurt Locker; the well deserving winner of the 2010 Oscar for Best Picture. AND it had Samuel L. Jackson it it. ‘Nuff said.

Spoiler alert: I do apologise but this cannot be avoided (I’ve done my best). For a comic book movie it does quite well at being scientifically accurate, so I couldn’t find any glaring errors (if you spot one let me know, I’m writing this however many months since its opening weekend) but I did notice a couple of little things (all to do with the flying fortress):

  • Turbine blades: The four enormous turbines that hold the mini-city in the air are plausible (ignoring the blades), especially since the thing is probably nuclear powered anyway. However, in the scene where Iron Man push starts one of the turbines you see that the blades are made out of giant welded and bolted together pieces of metal. Turbines spin at such high speeds that the blades stretch out from all the heat and spinning forces (this process is known as creep). This means the blades scrape against the sides of the turbine causing havoc. In order to avoid this modern blades are made out of single pieces of metal, most made out of one single crystal of metal (it is one big grain of the metal) as this helps greatly to prevent failure. So the turbines in this flying fortress would have almost no chance of lasting for any extended time as the blades would tear apart (check here for more info, but don’t be worried if it seems confusing, I barely understand the basics myself).
  • Engine failure: One of the four turbine engines on the flying fortress fails, leaving the fortress to try and avoid crashing using three. Except it wouldn’t. On a fixed wing aircraft (a conventional plane) losing an engine isn’t too serious, especially on four-engined one like a 747, and even on a two engined plane. The pilot just has to reduce air speed and pootle along looking for the nearest airfield. This is because a plane gets enough lift from its speed which can be maintained by an engine. On a rotorcraft (a helicopter) is relying constantly on its rotors for lift. So if one of the engines failed on the flying fortress I seriously doubt the other three could have keep it aloft long enough for the fourth one to be restarted

As I said I’m sure I left something out so if you spotted anything drop a comment and I’ll probably update the post with your point 🙂

Jeremy

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