Everyone’s favorite astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson likes to discuss the plausibility and accuracy of the science in science-fiction films. His thoughts are so influential that they’ve even caused acclaimed directors like James Cameron to make changes to a film.
In a response to a question on his show StarTalk, he expressed his doubts on the reality of a future arc reactor like the one powering the Iron Man suit and Stark Tower in the Marvel cinematic universe and comics.
The laws of thermodynamics prevent such a reactor from operating as shown in the movies. However, this does not mean that a future of unlimited, clean energy is out of our reach. MIT has been working on a fusion reactor they have even been calling an ARC reactor.
The most promising progress we have made thus far is with the tokamak. This is a fusion device that uses a combination of electromagnets and electric currents to contain plasma, which is used to generate thermonuclear fusion power. Even a small reactor of this type could power more than 100,000 homes.
In this discussion of unlimited energy and thermodynamics, Dr. Tyson also added his opinion on the age old question of Batman vs. Iron Man with his support of Tony Stark over Bruce Wayne.