My Apologies to Iron Man: Why Power Armor Doesn’t Make Sense

Spam-Can

The contents of Iron Man’s suit after the third explosion.

My argument is somewhat more elaborate than this, but the gist of it is thus:

  1. Place monkey in tin can.
  2. Shake can vigorously.
  3. Remove pulped monkey from can with preferred utensil.

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What’s the deal with power armor?

I love science fiction, and I often enjoy seeing science fiction become science fact (even if it is scary at times).  Plenty of things that we’ve dreamed up in our stories eventually come to pass in real life, whether it is because they inspired others to make them or because they were the product of careful forethought on the part of an author.  But what about power armor?  It’s been a staple of military-oriented science fiction for decades.  For the sake of simplicity, I’ll assume that power armor is an armored exoskeleton which offers its onboard human operator enhanced strength, mobility, and protection (sounds pretty cool, right?).  Yet while I’m usually pretty excited about science fiction becoming reality, I’m not so sure about seeing power armor become real.  Let me explain.

The Army’s TALOS project is now pushing for an armored exoskeleton, something which is essentially power armor.

R&D has a reputation for being a little bonkers sometimes; people fixate on really cool ideas and try to make them work, regardless of whether or not the ideas are practical or have any clear application.  That’s perfectly alright, in my opinion, as we never know where such things might take us.  Military R&D often turns that fixation up to eleven, which becomes a bit more problematic.  Sometimes the things we develop are impractical or nonsensical to implement (like 747s mounting lasers to provide missile interception), sometimes the tactical or strategic role intended for a weapon disappears before it is completed (as with Japan’s WWII submarine aircraft carriers), and sometimes the intended capabilities don’t make very much sense in the first place.  In the case of power armor, it all has to do with these things called “bodies.”

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