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Avengers Assemble Helicarrier could never fly, say Leicester scientists

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Film fans like nothing more than finding the mistakes in a movie and none are more relentless than a group of physics students. In the latest dissection of Hollywood make-believe, four fourth-year physicists from the University of Leicester have looked at the feasibility of the huge Helicarrier in the blockbuster comic adaptation, Avengers Assemble. The film shows an aircraft carrier transform itself into a flying vessel when four huge propellers appear from under the water. Movie-goers may not think anything of the 1,900ft airborne ship gliding through the clouds before turning invisible, but the young academics wanted to test the theory. Ashley Clark, 22, Kate Houghton, 22, Jacek Kuzemczak, 22, and Henry Simms, 22, calculated the amount of uplift needed from the four propellers to get the aircraft carrier airborne. They concluded the blades would need to spin at 324 rotations per minute in order to lift the carrier. This is faster than the maximum speed achievable by today's propellers – which can only reach 258 rotations a minute – so the physicists concluded the Avengers' Helicarrier was nothing more than Hollywood high jinks. Kate Houghton, the lead author of the article, which will appear in the latest edition of the university's Journal of Physics Special Topics, said: "To make the Helicarrier more feasible, several sets of smaller blades would be required. "It is also likely engines used today would need to be redesigned to be more powerful and efficient. "Another option would be to reduce the Helicarrier in size, since fewer small, less-powerful propellers would be required. "New films often use special effects and contain far-fetched, futuristic machines. "We found it very interesting to investigate the possibility of some of these vehicles becoming a reality in the future. "It was also an excellent excuse for a film night." In the 2012 film, which has made more than £400 million around the world, the Helicarrier is the headquarters of the intelligence agency Shield – led by agent Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson). Superheroes Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor are aboard the craft when one of the propellers is destroyed in a fight with the enemy. The students said there was no way the Helicarrier would stay airborne with three propellers, never mind four. The project was part of the final year Master of Physics degree course. Article co-author Henry Simms said: "The Journal of Special Topics module was different to most of the others because we were able to choose what topics we researched and investigated. "We enjoyed working in groups, writing a series of short articles and reviewing each other's work. "It gave us a great insight into how the scientific community works together to publish scientific papers. "The module improved our ability to work as a team – and having to come up with original ideas gave us a new challenge."POW! it's spider-man 1 Batman 0

In previous studies, physics students at the University of Leicester have concluded Batman has a fatal flaw in his flying cape which would prevent him from landing safely. They also concluded that a lot more than 501 seagulls would be needed to help Roald Dahl's James fly his Giant Peach.

But they did conclude that one of Spider-Man's feats of strength rang true.

In the second of the movie blockbusters starring Tobey Maguire as the comic book hero, Spider-Man uses his web to stop a runaway train. And this is possible, say the boffins.

Avengers Assemble Helicarrier could never fly, say Leicester scientists


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