AntMan the Wasp Should Have Serious BugSized Breathing Issues

first_img Sony Pictures CEO Says ‘Door Is Closed’ for Now on Spider-Man SplitMarvel Censors Criticism of America From Marvel Comics #1000 Stay on target Marvel has a knack for turning obscure superheroes into household names. Case in point: Ant-Man and the Wasp.Following the 2015 debut of Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a well-meaning thief who inadvertently takes on the role of Ant-Man, the character charmed his way into the cinematic universe—and our hearts.Since then, he’s returned to his Hymenoptera ways in Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man and the Wasp (co-starring Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne/the titular Wasp).But if you’ve ever wondered how people who temporarily shrink to the size of insects, while retaining the mass and strength of their human bodies, don’t die of oxygen deprivation, you’re not alone.Virginia Tech engineering mechanics graduate student Max Mikel Stites studied the “serious challenges” Ant-Man and the Wasp should face each time they reduce.With advisor and VT associate professor Anne Staples, Mikel-Stites researches biological fluid dynamics, particularly as they pertain to insect respiration and insect-scale flows.So what’s that got to do with the incredible shrinking man and his flying partner?The team’s work, discussed at this week’s American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics 71st Annual Meeting, could reduce the actuation machinery needed for microfluidic devices, making them more portable and cost-efficient.“Applying that perspective to Ant-Man and the Wasp seemed like a straightforward thing to do,” Mikel-Stites said in a statement.According to their analysis, the atmospheric density (number of molecules in a given volume of air) experienced by our bug-sized heroes is nearly identical to that of Mt. Everest’s so-called “death zone,” where there is no enough oxygen for humans to breath.“While the actual atmospheric density is the same for an insect and a human, the subjective atmospheric density experiences by a human who shrinks to insect size changes,” Mikel-Stites explained.“For example, a normal-size person taking a deep breath can expect to inhale some number of oxygen molecules,” he continued. “However, when that person is shrunk down to the size of an ant, despite still needing the same number of oxygen molecules, far fewer are available in a single breath of air.”The “death zone” for normal-sized humans begins around 8,000 meters above sea level.In the form of Ant-Man and the Wasp, Lang and Pym/van Dyne would feel like they’re at an altitude of 7,998 meters—giving them one hell of a case of altitude sickness.I don’t remember either suffering from headaches, dizziness, or the buildup of fluid in the lungs and brain. And since Rudd is set to reprise his role in next year’s untitled Avengers film, he is certainly not dead (yet).But that’s not all the crime-fighting duo have to worry about.Based on Kleiber’s law, which correlates the metabolic rate of an animal to its size, researchers found that the metabolic rates per unit mass of the superheroes at bug size would increase by some two orders of magnitude—as would their oxygen demands.Mikel-Stites, however, has a solution.Microfluidic components (like Knudsen pumps, driven by temperature gradients) and microscale gas compressors could be embedded into the champions’ helmets, helping them breath at microscale.Got any ideas, Mikel-Stites, for when Ant-Man expands 65 feet tall?More coverage on Lee’s Best CharactersBees Were Also Distracted by 2017 Total Solar EclipseCyborg Cockroach May Save Your Life, Haunt Your DreamsAnt Brains Grow Proportionally to Communal Responsibilitieslast_img

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