Batman could fly, but he'd crash and die

LONDON Mon Jul 9, 2012 2:21pm EDT

Christian Bale in a scene from ''The Dark Knight Rises''. REUTERS/Ron Phillips/Warner Bros

Christian Bale in a scene from ''The Dark Knight Rises''.

Credit: Reuters/Ron Phillips/Warner Bros

LONDON (Reuters) - Holy crash landing Batman! The crime-fighting caped crusader could fly but if he did, he would smash into the ground and probably die, a group of British physics students have calculated.

Dashing the dreams of comic fans across the world, four students from the University of Leicester said that while Batman could glide using his cape as he does in the 2005 film "Batman Begins", his landing would almost certainly prove fatal.

The superhero is back in cinemas later this month in "The Dark Knight Rises" and they suggested Batman should go shopping before trying a similar attempt to become airborne over Gotham City.

"If Batman wanted to survive the flight, he would definitely need a bigger cape," said David Marshall, 22, one of the students in the final year of their four-year Master of Physics degree.

"Or if he preferred to keep his style intact he could opt for using active propulsion, such as jets to keep himself aloft."

In a paper titled "Trajectory of a falling Batman", the group argued that if he jumped from a 150-metre (492-foot) high building, the 4.7 meter (15-foot) wingspan of Batman's cape would allow him to glide 350 meters (1148 feet).

However, he would reach a speed of 68 miles per hour (109 km per hour) before hitting the ground at a life-threatening speed of 50 mph.

(Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Paul Casciato)

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Comments (5)
nmg72 wrote:
Wouldn’t that only apply to a fix wing? I imagined his cape being more flexible and maneuverable like a bird or bat allowing it to slow their velocity to land safely.

Jul 09, 2012 2:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
slider142 wrote:
He would need to cycle his cape very quickly to slow his descent (much more quickly than birds, due to his much greater density), which he is probably quite incapable of doing, especially with so much air resistance. The reason I suspect this is that he would have to be able to exert enough force to appreciably decrease his weight, as read by a scale on the ground, using only those cape motions if he were standing still. Many experiments with much larger and lighter makeshift cycling wings show that this is unfeasible.

Jul 09, 2012 4:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bugmenot1 wrote:
Hey science dorks – quit trying to ruin my comic books!

Jul 10, 2012 12:35pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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