PART 6: ALWAYS CARRY PROTECTION - CAPTAIN AMERICA'S SHIELD
By Alex Wiggan (and Ryan the work experience lad)
Hi there Science Of Superheroes fans, this past week has been a bit of a hectic one as myself and Ryan spent longer in Wales than we had planned and almost missed our flight.There are many people at fault, although in truth it was mostly Ryan (that’s what you get for hiring someone and not paying them), but let’s put all that behind us and move forward once more.This week we are in North America, New York to be exact, the homeland of Marvel Comics’ superhero, Captain America!
It’s his famous shield that we are looking at, which Ryan claims he’s never even heard of before (?), so as ever he’s asking the questions, I’m answering them... and you’re stuck reading about it.
So let’s dive in!
WHAT IS IT?
It’s an almost indestructible disc shaped shield, made from an alloy of steel and vibranium (a fictional metal in the Marvel Universe) and it’s one of the most recognisable weapons in comics!
WHO DOES IT BELONG TO?
The shield belongs to Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, who was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 in 1941, for Timely (now Marvel) Comics.Steve was just an ordinary American citizen who wanted to do his bit for his country during WW2, so he volunteered to take part in an experimental process that transformed him into a super soldier.Rogers was supposed to be one of many soldiers given strength and agility far beyond his ordinary capabilities, but when the inventor of the super soldier serum was killed, things went a bit tits up and Rogers became one of a kind.Given the codename Captain America, Steve Rogers fought the good fight against the Nazis until one of his missions went sour and he was frozen in the ice cold waters of the North Atlantic.Revived years later, Cap joined forces with the likes of Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man and the Hulk as a member of superhero team The Avengers.
WHAT DID IT DO FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA?
Captain America’s shield was as iconic as the hero himself and each time he wielded it, the shield managed to get him out of numerous deadly scrapes.Each time he threw it, Cap’s shield had a handy way of returning to him and its near indestructibility kept it as fresh as the day it was first constructed.To put it simply, Cap’s shield was da bomb!
WHAT WOULD IT DO FOR ME?
Coming in all different shapes, sizes and designs and constructed from wood, metal, animal hide and plastic, shields have been used throughout the ages as a form of protection.From the Zulus, to the Romans and the Greeks, shields have been there to keep soldiers, warriors and gladiators safe whilst in combat against some of the fiercest opposition.One of the best shields was the scuta, a large rectangular shield used by Roman imperial legions as part of a larger formation.Each soldier carried one of these shields and when the group was under attack the soldiers would stand close together and place the shields together to create an impenetrable barrier that made them stronger than if they stood alone.The formation was known as Testudo.
HANG ON A MINUTE, WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH CAPTIAN AMERICA?
Oh, nothing really.Not sure how to break this to you, but just like magic words last week Captain America’s shield is a work of fiction.Vibranium just doesn’t exist.
No, indestructible shields aren’t real.All shields have a weakness to some degree. However, don’t be too glum because modern shields used by law enforcement today (you know, riot squads) are pretty much the next best thing!Made from synthetic materials, like Mylar (or biaxially-orientated polyethylene terephthalate as it’s technically known), the shields are designed to protect against extreme conflict.This is because Mylar is strong, stable, is an electrical insulator and can withstand attacks from gas.So it may not be vibranium, but it will give you protection in your hour of need....should you find yourself in a pickle that is.So having your own Captain America shield isn’t going to happen, but you can at least come close.
And now you know.
SUPER SCIENCE EQUATION: A Mylar shield + Ryan = A work experience lad protected from danger
That’s it for this week.We’re staying in America for a while, so we’ll see you next time in Louisiana!