Ironman is the famous Marvel superhero alter ego of arms dealer and playboy Tony Stark. Stark built an exoskeleton that amplified his performance and strength. In later movies and comics, the Iron Man suit is directly plugged into Tony Stark’s brain creating a unique melding of man and machine. This sounds fantastic, something possible only in the realm of comics, right? Well, not so fast. Recent technological and medical developments in neuro-prosthetics are creating human brain-machine interfaces that are beginning to approach the fantasy of the Iron Man comics. Tonight on Inquiry, we welcome back E. PAUL ZEHR, Professor of Neuroscience and Kinesiology at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. His new book INVENTING IRON MAN: THE POSSIBILITY OF A HUMAN MACHINE is an overview of some of the startling and mind blowing recent discoveries in human machine engineering and their possible benefits for people with amputations, spinal chord injuries and severe strokes. Zehr’s book is also an examination of what would happen to a real person if they attempted to wear the Iron Man suit. The answers will surprise you. All fans of ole Shell Head be sure to tune in!
Are there deep mythical themes to be found in popular literature as diverse as John Keel’s reporting on the Mothman creature, Charles Fort’s roll call of “damned” phenomena, John Uri Lloyd’s bizarre hollow earth novel “Etidorhpa” and Jack Kirby’s classic Silver Surfer and New Gods comics? Tonight we speak with JEFFREY J. KRIPAL. He is the J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Philosophy and Religious Thought and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University. His latest wide ranging book MUTANTS AND MYSTICS: SCIENCE FICTION, SUPERHERO COMICS AND THE PARANORMAL looks at the metamyths and ages old religious themes and traditions that occur time again in modern popular literature, film and obsessions.