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Lawrence Tech faculty members publish academic paper on Black Panther's vibranium

(Marvel Studios via CNN)

DETROIT – Vibranium may be a fictional element -- but don't tell the faculty members at Lawrence Tech University in Southfield.

Vibranium, made popular by the recent smash blockbuster hit "Black Panther," is a powerful metal that dissolves other metals, absorbs all sound and causes genetic mutation.

Sibrina N. Collins, executive director of LTU’s Marburger STEM Center, and LaVetta Appleby, a senior lecturer in chemistry in LTU’s College of Arts and Sciences, published an academic paper on the fake element.

The paper is trying to answer one simple question: where would it go on the Periodic Table of the Elements?

To figure out where this astounding material would fit on the periodic table, Collins and Appleby asked for help from their undergraduate students – asking students as an essay question on an exam where they’d place vibranium on the periodic table, and explain why they made their choice. 

Most students assigned vibranium the symbol Vb, since V is already in use by another metal, vanadium. Some noted the fact that it glows and causes mutations would place it near the most famous radioactive metal, uranium.

An expert inorganic chemist, meanwhile, theorized it could be located in a group of elements called the boron family, a group of elements that can form elaborate structures, which could be sound-absorbing. 

Collins and Appleby said the movie presents students with a fun opportunity to think seriously about the periodic table. They also praised the movie for its portrayals of women and people of color in science. 

Read the academic paper below:


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