If your second thought while watching Iron Man (after "I think I have a crush on Robert Downey Jr. again") was "Why can't they make an Iron Man suit in real life?" then the US army and scientists in Madison, Wisconsin, are planning on making you very, very happy indeed.
According to 1984's Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Iron Man's armor is able to, you know, exist, thanks to something called "biological circuit fabrication." This is a fancy way of saying that all the circuitry inside is very, very small, apparently... which happens to be exactly the kind of thing that scientists happen to be working on at this very moment:
[A] group of scientists led by Michael Sussman, director of University of Wisconsin, Madison's Biotechnology Center, and oceanography professor Virginia Armbrust of the University of Washington, are seeing if diatoms will help make even smaller integrated circuit chips by a similar process of biological fabrication... Sussman's interest in diatoms is based on the fact that diatoms are capable of creating lines of silica much smaller than present chip manufacturing processes can make out of silicon.Smaller technology will undoubtedly be a blessing to the US Army, who are currently working on... hey... robotic suits to help them be better soldiers:
"If we can genetically control that process, we would have a whole new way of performing the nanofabrication used to make computer chips," says Sussman.
Rex Jameson bikes and swims regularly, and plays tennis and skis when time allows. But the 5-foot-11, 180-pound software engineer is lucky if he presses 200 pounds — that is, until he steps into an "exoskeleton" of aluminum and electronics that multiplies his strength and endurance as many as 20 times... Jack Obusek, a former colonel now with the Army's Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center in the Boston suburb of Natick, foresees robot-suited soldiers unloading heavy ammunition boxes from helicopters, lugging hundreds of pounds of gear over rough terrain or even relying on the suit's strength-enhancing capabilities to make repairs to tanks that break down in inconvenient locations.Jack, Jack, Jack. You're thinking too small. Repulsor ray gloves and boot jets are the way of the future, trust me...