Avocations: Barry Fitzgerald

Kids around the world marvel at the idea of having superhero powers and a young Barry Fitzgerald was no exception. “Around the age of six or seven I started asking my parents for superpowers,” said the Irish native.

“I wanted the power of flight.”

Fitzgerald grew up with a passion for science and after seeing the first X-Men movie started asking himself how likely it would be for humans to have those sort of powers. When he realised he was starting to answer some of his own questions it inspired him to write his first book, ‘Secrets of Superhero Science’. “Honestly speaking, we are closer to superpowers than ever before,” said the Process & Energy research scientist. “20 to 30 years ago people wouldn’t believe the phones we have now.”

Platform to communicate science

His second book, ‘Secret Science of Santa Claus’ tries to scientifically explain how the jolly old man works his magic each year on Christmas Eve. “Santa Claus was my first hero,” said Fitzgerald. “He was the first person that made me think ‘How does he do that?’.” Although the books are based on concrete science, Fitzgerald is clear to point out that they reflect his own opinion and are not the only answers to the questions.

Writing and self-publishing books as well giving dozens of talks each year keeps Fitzgerald quite busy, but his motivation is clear. “It’s a great platform to communicate science,” he said. “You start talking to young people about superheroes or Santa and pretty soon they’re learning science in a stealthy way. I want to convince people to think about science differently.”

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