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The science behind the cape
Date:3/8/2011

Bethesda, Md. (Mar. 8, 2011) -- What do you have when you line up a martial artist, acrobatic gymnast, police officer, firefighter, NASCAR driver, and NFL running back? "Watson," the IBM super-computer that recently routed humanity's best on Jeopardy might have guessed the answer was "the Village People," to which host Alex Trebek could have replied, "Sorry. The answer we were looking for is 'Batman'." At least that is the correct answer for physiologist E. Paul Zehr.

In a new article, Zehr, a professor at the University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, describes his success in using the Caped Crusader to engage students in the study of physiology.

"Batman has such powerful resonance with readers because he is a (fictional) human with superpowers that seem within reach if we only work at it," writes Zehr in a new article published in Advances in Physiology Education, a journal of the American Physiological Society. Zehr believes that it is not Bruce Wayne's vast wealth that allows him to protect the citizens of Gotham City, but his dedication to developing a wide range of physical skills.

Zehr uses Batman to establish a framework, grounded in his fictional universe as well as our real one, in order to discuss the various components of exercise and physical training and illustrate how the body's physiological systems respond. His experiences in teaching undergraduate courses in physiology and neurophysiology made him realize that connecting science to popular culture helped students understand the lessons better.

He first presented a formal analysis of the personal and physical discipline that would be required to transform an ordinary mortal into a superhero in his book, Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero. The book drew on Zehr's understanding and work in human locomotion and the plasticity of nerves and muscles associated with exercise. By coincidence, the book was published in the wa
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Contact: Donna Krupa
dkrupa@the-aps.org
301-634-7209
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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