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Tragic': Physics Shows Batman's Cape -- Not Villains -- May Be His Biggest Threat

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"clearly, gliding using a batcape is not a safe way to travel..."

Batman has faced villains like the Joker, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Two Face and more. In less than two weeks, in the third and final installment of director Christopher Nolan's series -- The Dark Knight Rises -- he will take on a terrorist seeking to destroy Gotham city. Would you believe though that Batman's greatest threat wasn't any of these characters, but a flourishing piece on his own costume?

(Related: Can't Wait for 'The Dark Knight Rises' to Come Out? Check Out This 13-Minute Featurette)

Physicists couldn't resist taking on the practicality of Batman having a cape. What they found was that not only would such a cape get in the way, but it would probably help lead to his demise.

Although the research of the physicists from the University of Leicester was published in the Journal of Physics Special Topics in December 2011, it is getting play now thanks to the highly-anticipated film set to hit theaters July 20. In short, the paper describes how "the speed at which Batman would be travelling would be too dangerous to stop without some method of slowing down."

Under the assumption that Batman has a "memory cloth" cape that allows him to glide from tall buildings, using a method similar to that of wingsuit athletes, the physicists discuss how it is feasible for Batman to glide in the way he is generally represented. Gliding at speeds from 110km/hour to 80 km/hour, any impact Batman would have with other surfaces without some mechanism to slow him down would likely be fatal.

The research concludes that "clearly, gliding using a batcape is not a safe way to travel, unless a method to rapidly slow down is used such as a parachute."

Wired UK laments the findings of the study as "tragic."

"We’re not sure what’s worse — Batman taking pause between attacks to clamber out of a pile of cardboard boxes, or Commissioner Gordon having to create a new bat signal that more accurately represents Batman’s descending shadow, parachute intact," Wired ponders.

Update: Check out The Blaze Magazine editor Chris Field's blog post on how "friendless physicist" are "determined to suck the fun out of everything" with this latest Batman debunk.

(H/T: io9)

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