Science and Superheroes: How Close Are We to Creating Superpowers?

Science and Superheroes: How Close Are We to Creating Superpowers?

Science and Superheroes: How Close Are We to Creating Superpowers?

There are, according to the Marvel Super Heroes role-playing game (a source I am choosing to accept as 100% canonical), five general origins for all superheroic powers: Altered Humans (Spiderman, Fantastic Four), High-Tech Wonders (Iron Man, Batman), Mutants (X-Men,) Robots (The Vision) and Aliens (Superman and gods like Thor).

Until quite recently all five of the general origins of super powers seemed entirely beyond reach. But is the high speed advance of science in the 21st century bringing those superpowers based upon it - Altered Humans, High Tech Wonders and Robots - any closer?

Altered Humans

Significant physical alterations have seemed largely impossible until very recently. Even breakthroughs in genetics hint at nothing like the weapon-x program that gave Wolverine his admantium bones and Deadpool his accelerated healing. But quantum biology, championed by physicist and broadcaster Jim Al Khalili, suggests an enjoyably speculative direction for extreme human alterations. If quantum tunnelling can explain the high speed transformation of tadpole to frog, surely it’s conceivable quantum effects might also allow a human body to regenerate from a gunshot or samurai sword attack.

Martial arts have been altering humans to pseudo-superheroic levels of power for centuries, with changes more psychological than physical. It seems the US military are at least interested in discovering if the Shaolin monks are skilled in more than just theatre, with a number of research studies underway to militarise ancient Buddhist techniques of mindfulness. Are we producing Jason Bournes and American Ultras in a CIA training facility somewhere? If we aren’t I imagine it’s only because numerous attempts have so far failed.

 

Read full story: https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2016/feb/10/science-and-superhe...