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From Claude Bernard to the Batcave and beyond: using Batman as a hook for physiology education E.

Paul Zehr Rehabilitation euroscience !aboratory" #chool of E$ercise #cience" Physical and %ealth Education" &ivision of 'edical #ciences and Centre for Biomedical Research" (niversity of )ictoria" )ictoria" British Columbia" Canada #ubmitted *+ ovember ,-*-. accepted in /nal form 0 1anuary ,-** Zehr EP. From Claude Bernard to the Batcave and beyond: using Batman as a hook for physiology education. 2dv Physiol Educ 34: *5 0" ,-**. doi:*-.**4,6advan.--*,-.,-*-.7Communicating physiology to the general public and populari8ing science can be tremendously re9arding activities. Providing relevant and compelling points of linkage" ho9ever" bet9een the scienti/c e$periences and the interests of the general public can be challenging. :ne avenue for populari8ing science is to link scienti/c concepts to images" personalities" and icons in popular culture. Currently" comic book superhero movies and television sho9s are e$tremely popular" and Batman 9as used as the vehicle for populari8ing concepts of e$ercise science" neuroscience" and physiology in my recent book" Becoming Batman: the Possibility of a #uperhero. ;he ob<ective of this book 9as to bring scienti/c understanding to the broader public by using the physical image and impression everyone has of Batman and his abilities and then connecting this to the underlying science. ;he ob<ective of this article is to share some of the details of the process and the positive and negative outcomes of using such an approach 9ith other academics 9ho may be interested in similar activities. =t is my goal that by sharing this e$perience = may stimulate likeminded readers to initiate their o9n similar pro<ects and to also be

emboldened to try and integrate popular culture touchstones in their o9n teaching practice. public education. superheroes. kno9ledge translation C:''( =C2;= > P%?#=:!:>? to the general public and populari8ing science can be tremendously re9arding activities. Providing relevant and compelling points of linkage" ho9ever" bet9een the scienti/c e$periences and the interests of the general public can be challenging. :ne avenue for populari8ing science is to link scienti/c concepts to images" personalities" and icons in popular culture. Currently" comic book superhero movies and television sho9s are e$tremely popular" and Batman 9as used as the vehicle for populari8ing concepts of e$ercise science" neuroscience" and physiology in my recent book" Becoming Batman: the Possibility of a #uperhero @3A. Bhen = 9as considering my approach to the book" = 9as trying to balance my passion for the populari8ation of science 9ith a useful metaphor that could be used to disseminate information most effectively to the general public. = believe Cuite strongly in leaving the 9alls of the Divory to9erE and connecting and communicating 9ith the general public in comfortable and informal settings. ;hese comfortable and informal settings can be literally physical spaces in the community" like coffee shops or pubs" 9here CafF #cienti/Cue discussions can occur. ;hey can also be mental settings representing concepts that people are already familiar 9ith and comfortable thinking about. = think scientists and academics have to go the e$tra mile to translate science into terms that are interesting and accessible to the general public and nonacademic specialists. = have

a background in kinesiology @BPE and '#cA and neuroscience @Ph&A" many years training in martial arts" and an interest in comic books. Batman is the most highly trained and skilled martial arts in the &C (niverse" and he is also considered a master detective and scientist. = read a lot of general science books in different /elds and particularly inspirational to me 9as ;he Physics of #uperheroes @*A" by (niversity of 'innesota Physics professor &r. 1ames Gakalios. = have long noticed an absence in this genre of books related to ho9 the human body functions. = decided to 9rite something about ho9 the body 9orks and responds to e$ercise and motor skill training using Batman as the metaphor for ultimate human performance. %is /ctional physiology can rightly be thought to represent the most highly tuned of any human athlete. 2 main part of BatmanHs mystiCue is that he is pitched as a human being 9ho is DselfImade.E ;hus" = thought e$ploring" e$amining" and challenging the actual scienti/c background and basis for e$treme physiological adaptation embodied in Batman could be a useful 9ay to meet my ob<ectives. Batman is 9idely kno9n throughout the 9orld" and even people 9ho have no real interest in comic books or superheroes have a vivid image of his physical and performance abilities. Batman is also an enduring icon" /rst appearing in the *J3J story D;he Case of the Chemical #yndicate"E found in the pages of the ational Publications @9hich became &C ComicsA maga8ine &etective Comics K,L. #ince that time" Batman has become the global icon 9e recogni8e today.

Batman has such po9erful resonance 9ith readers because he is a @/ctionalA human 9ith superpo9ers that seem 9ithin reach if 9e only 9ork at it. 'any artists" editors" and 9riters have mentioned this @,A. Former President and EditorIinIChief of &C Comics 1enette Gahn has said that DBatman is an ordinary mortal 9ho made himself a superhero . . . ;hrough discipline and determination and commitment" he made himself into the best. = al9ays thought that meant that = could be anything = 9anted to be.E eal 2dams" a great D#ilver 2geE

Batman artist" 9rote that D?ou must remember" Batman is the only superhero 9ho is not a superhero. %e has no po9ers . . . %eHs a human being bent on a mission.E Finally" former &C Comics Editor and 9riter &ennis :H eil clearly articulated this 9hen he stated: D;here isnHt a great stretch bet9een BatmanHs 9orld and ours: he is the most MrealisticH of the g