The Tomato

Hopes for a flying superhero will soon be realized at the U of O. Photo: Cailey Fletcher, CC, Cristain Bortes, edits by Christine Wang.
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Students share how new abilities have affected social relationships

These are trying times we live in, and as such, the University of Ottawa’s Advanced Research Complex (ARC), known for its study of photonics and earth science, has been working on a top secret experimental project to help combat some of the world’s biggest challenges.

How, you ask? By making superheroes, obviously.

“Most people forget that we exist, so we really try to capitalize on that,” said Dr. Stephan Straynge, one of ARC’s leading scientists.

Over the last six months, ARC has been testing out new developmental theories and applying them to real life test subjects, namely students at the U of O, in the hopes of quelling the growing threat of world domination by bulbous orange villains and climate change deniers.

“We were inspired by our name, because it’s reminiscent of Iron Man’s arc reactor,” said Paprika Pans, a researcher at the facility. “However, there are some very stark differences between our world and the fictional superhero metropolises that many students know and love.”

In other words, not everything has gone quite as well as expected.

“That’s Jack, one of our interns,” Pans explained, pointing to a chair. Jack, who chose not to disclose his last name for privacy reasons, is one of ARC’s first successful participants. His superpower, invisibility, allows him to hide in plain sight, and not do much else.

While it is quite remarkable what these students have been able to do with their photon research, it leaves much to be desired in terms of the perfect superhero.

“It’s been really hard because I keep losing marks for attendance and participation in my classes,” Jack said, adding that his newfound powers are also a strain on his relationships.

“I just feel invisible, like… no one can see the real me, you know?’’

Other participants have shared similar concerns, with fourth-year communications student Bruce ‘’Rock Monster” Tanner, who has Toph-like earthbending abilities, claiming that he can’t go a day without “freaking out and destroying something.”

Dr. Straynge addressed these symptoms of prolonged feelings of angst and hopelessness, a need for speed, and super villainy, as temporary side effects of their ongoing research.

That being said, ARC is working with the U of O’s Department of Psychology to help remedy these unforeseen complications.

“People are complicated,” said Dr. Oss, a part-time professor and researcher at the Department of Psychology. “Even with rigorous screening and a strict application process, it can be difficult to tell what some people’s underlying triggers are. That’s why we’re hoping to do some intensive therapy with the test subjects—specifically, asking them how their superpowers make them feel on a day to day basis.”

When questioned about the implications of their villainous natures, Pans responded, “No, no, villains are profs who forcibly make you do group projects. These guys, they’re good, really. I mean, mass destruction is just something that comes with the job.”