5 Superpowers Science Will Give Us in Our Lifetime

Every one of us once dreamed of donning some spandex pants and taking our brand of renegade crime fighting to the streets. The only problem was our total lack of super powers, and the fact that when we blasted ourselves with gamma radiation we only got a super-powered tumor that becomes more malignant when angered.

Recent scientific breakthroughs are changing that. Within our lifetimes we just might be able to see mankind do the things it only wrote about in cheap picture books and their multi-billion dollar film adaptations. Some day, you or your children may very well get to be ...

#5. Iron Man

The Character's Power: Technologically advanced battle suit.

After being kidnapped by the Vietnamese (or in the film, some brown people) billionaire inventor Tony Stark MacGyver's himself a technological wonder of a battle suit that simultaneously prevents shards of shrapnel from entering his heart and helps him explode you with literal hand cannons.

How Science Can Give It To You:
Meet HAL 5.

HAL 5 is an acronym for Hybrid Assistive Limb ... 5. HAL is an artificial powered exoskeleton. In other words, a technological wonder of a suit that is capable of allowing the user to carry five times the weight they could normally carry.

"When a person attempts to move, nerve signals are sent from the brain to the muscles via motoneuron, moving the musculoskeletal system as a consequence." We just copy and pasted that from the official HAL website because it sums it up well enough (apparently just saying, "When you move, this thing moves HARDER!" is too simplistic for the type of people who know how to make cybernetic suits).

Unlike Tony Stark's "Mark VI" Iron Man suit, HAL was not invented for tearing-ass through a war zone, leaving behind a trail of men slowly realizing they just got their limbs torn off by a robot. On the contrary, HAL was designed for factory work, disaster relief, assisting disabled people, and, as the website states, "the entertainment field" which we're sure is code for "Superhuman Endurance Sexbot."

The only problem is ...
You'll probably think we're being silly when we point out that "HAL" is also the name of the AI in 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you're having trouble remembering the character let us refresh your memory: HAL 9000 spied some astronauts talking shit about him behind his back, and went on a murderous rampage in response. Probably just coincidence, right? Surely not a sign that the inventors have evil intentions or anything.

Well, do you remember when we linked the official HAL website earlier? Look at the web address. That's www.cyberdyne.jp. Cyberdyne! As in, "the manufacturers of the Terminator" Cyberdyne.

Don't get us wrong, we're not saying this isn't an amazing technology. All we're saying is that you should find your nearest John Conner and sequester him in your local underground robot apocalypse bunker before some dip-shit scientist puts some kind of thinking chip in these things.

#4. Jean Grey (X-Men)

The Character's Power: Telekinesis.

Jean Grey, more commonly known as "That redheaded bitch that dies whenever shit gets serious," has telekinetic powers that allow her to do much more than lift simple objects with her mind. She can also use her powers as a kind of Jedi-like force push and as a defensive shield.

How Science Can Give It To You:
The Brain-Gate Neural Interface System (BGNIS).

Foxborough, Massachusetts based company Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems, Inc. is working on technologies that let the paralyzed interact with their surroundings using only their thoughts. The "Gate" in the name refers to a computer interface that acts as a gateway for the entire process. The system begins with the implantation of a sensor in the motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls movement.

This sensor detects neural signals that your brain would normally use to tell your body to move. But, rather than having this information transmitted to an arm or leg these signals get relayed to a computer which then decodes the information and converts it into a physical action. So when you think about an action (say, giving a stripper a dollar) that thought would go though the computer which then would activate a device (say, the dollar bill cannon attached to your pelvis).

The BGNIS project has been approved by the FDA and Cyberkinetics hopes this technology will be ready for the mass market within three to five years.

The only problem is ...
This technology clearly isn't going to stay limited to the disabled. The prospect for being able to, with a simple implant, turn on your coffee maker or car with the power of your thoughts, will be too much to resist. How will a society already plagued by obesity and sedentary lifestyles adjust to the invention of the mind controlled pudding cannon?

And how long until a group of rogues find a way to get souped-up implants that let them take over your car from a mile away? Or send your lawnmower on a murderous rampage?

They'll also make it fly somehow

Without the wisdom of a Dr. X to guide them, they will wreak havoc on a world too fat to defend itself.

#3. Spider-Man

The Character's Power: Web slinging and wall climbing.

When a young loser named Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider he becomes endowed with the powers of an arachnid. He can crawl on walls and, just to round out the whole "Spider" gimmick, he invented his own web slingers. Furthermore, he has a spider's ... precognitive abilities? We must have missed that day of science class.

How Science Can Give It To You:
Carbon nanotube technology and nanoglue.

Spidey holds the honorable distinction of being the only character on this list that has two real life technologies currently being researched that can one day bring us a step closer to being riddled with bullets after trying to stop a bank robbery.

First up is carbon nanotube technology, which will basically be Velcro for the "What the fuck is Velcro?" societies of the future. Like Velcro, carbon nanotubes can be formed as a series of hooks and loops that interlock, thereby creating a clinging effect. Unlike Velcro, these hooks and loops are microscopic and can latch on to nearly any surface imaginable, even while underwater.

The creator of the nanotube, Italian scientist Nicola Pugno, says that when placed on gloves and boots, his wall-crawling breakthrough would be able to keep a fully grown person suspended on a ceiling. He hopes to have a prototype suit out by 2010.

The second Spider-Man tech that will revolutionize the way we as a society approach cosplaying is more of a theory, but it's a very promising one at that. This theory is based around something called nanoglue.

A group of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute scientists working with nanolayers (molecular chains of carbon molecules with elements such as silicon, oxygen or sulfur) accidentally found that heating nanolayers of commercially available glue sandwiched between copper and silica, it created a bond that one researcher called "As strong as a motherfucker."

Metal chains and hooks are metaphorical

The leader of the project, Professor Ganapathiraman Ramanath, hypothesizes that this "nanoglue" could be used as a real-life version of Spider-Man's web shooters:

"If we can find a way to create threads and/or intertwined bundles using the molecules in a scalable fashion, while retaining the adhesive properties, then creating web-shooters similar to Spiderman's is a real possibility," he said as he pointed to the face of Spider-Man gracing the crotch flap of his Underoos.

The only problem is ...
We admit, it's awesome that a mountain climber plummeting to his death may one day be able take a minute to enjoy the quickly passing scenery before deploying a stream of stringy glue that will save his life, before crawling effortlessly back up the rocky cliff with his hands.

The problem is that once the method of web-swinging from building to building becomes possible, no one will ever use any other means of transport. So what's wrong with that? Well, what goes unreported in Spider-Man films and comics is the hundreds of long, sticky strings of web he leaves behind wherever he goes.

In the city of the future, where rush hour features a few million Spideys web-slinging their way to the office, pretty soon every building is going to look like it's either wearing a fur coat, or been Bukakked within mere inches of its life.

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