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

Adv Physiol Educ. 2011 Mar;35(1):1-4. doi: 10.1152/advan.00120.2010.


Communicating physiology to the general public and popularizing science can be tremendously rewarding activities. Providing relevant and compelling points of linkage, however, between the scientific experiences and the interests of the general public can be challenging. One avenue for popularizing science is to link scientific concepts to images, personalities, and icons in popular culture. Currently, comic book superhero movies and television shows are extremely popular, and Batman was used as the vehicle for popularizing concepts of exercise science, neuroscience, and physiology in my recent book, Becoming Batman: the Possibility of a Superhero. The objective of this book was to bring scientific 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. The objective of this article is to share some of the details of the process and the positive and negative outcomes of using such an approach with other academics who may be interested in similar activities. It is my goal that by sharing this experience I may stimulate like-minded readers to initiate their own similar projects and to also be emboldened to try and integrate popular culture touchstones in their own teaching practice.

MeSH terms

  • Cartoons as Topic
  • Physiology / education*