OK, it’s not an official Ask a ScienceBlogger question (that answer will show up next week), but over at the World’s Fair, they’ve raised an important scholarly question via a scene from The Simpsons:

Marge: Homer?
Homer: Yelloh?
Marge: There’s a man here who thinks he can help you.
Homer: Batman?
Marge: No, he’s a scientist.
Homer: Batman’s a scientist.

Obviously, this leads to the question : “What sort of scientist is Batman, anyway?” Some of my colleagues are trying to claim him for psychology or genetics, but the real answer is after the cut:

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It’s a trick question. Batman isn’t a scientist, he’s an engineer.

I mean, think about it: scientists are about the pursuit of knowledge in the abstract. While their work may lead to future technological applications, they’re usually not involved in actually making those devices. Scientists are about proof-of-principle work, and pushing the boundaries of knowledge. Typical scientific apparatus involves duct tape and aluminum foil, and requires a Ph.D. and a couple of graduate students to keep it running.

That’s not what Batman is about. Batman isn’t interested in abstract knowledge– he’s interested in the application of knowledge, preferably at high speed and to the head of a villain. That’s engineering, not science. Batman’s all about the wonderful toys, crime-fighting gadgets that work flawlessly in field conditions. You don’t go to a scientist for that sort of thing.

Of course, the scientific discipline that most readily leads to a career in engineering is physics…

Comments

  1. #1 Tim
    June 22, 2006

    This is the best answer yet.

  2. #2 Harlan
    June 22, 2006

    Also, Batman is a “comic”, not a “cartoon”… “Cartoon” is a type of drawing, “comic” is the type of storytelling that uses a series of cartoon images.

  3. #3 Kail
    June 22, 2006

    And the Simpsons is a cartoon.

  4. #4 Novak
    June 22, 2006

    In at least some version of the Batman legend, WayneTech is a defense contractor as well, thus explaining where some of those toys come from. It’s not like you build a supersonic jet in your basement, even if your basement is the BatCave.

  5. #5 Chad Orzel
    June 22, 2006

    Also, Batman is a “comic”, not a “cartoon”… “Cartoon” is a type of drawing, “comic” is the type of storytelling that uses a series of cartoon images.

    It’s also a term for animated shows on television, which Batman has been. And, as Kail points out, the whole thing was started by a Simpsons reference, so “cartoon” is justified…

    In at least some version of the Batman legend, WayneTech is a defense contractor as well, thus explaining where some of those toys come from.

    That’s pretty much the deal in Batman Begins.

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