5 Superpowers Science Will Give Us in Our Lifetime

#2. Wolverine

The Character's Power: Fast-healing wounds via tissue regeneration.

According to the comic, the man formally known as James Howlett was born with keen animal senses and lizard-like tissue regeneration abilities. That made him a prime candidate for an experimental surgery that grafted adamantium to his bones. The lesson learned here is that you never give metal claws to something that doesn't die when you shoot it in the head.

How Science Can Give It To You:
The extracellular matrix.

In 2005, Lee Spievack, a man working in a Cincinnati hobby store, sliced off the tip of his finger as he was showing a customer how you can lose a finger when dealing with a model plane's motor. This is either an ironic accident or the single most badass thing any retail associate has ever done to sell a customer.

In another ironic twist to the plot, Spievack just so happened to have a brother in the tissue regeneration business. This brother told his fingertip-less sibling to forgo a simple skin graft and opt for a ride on a model train toward the future of wound healing: a powder made from the extract of a pigs' bladder. This extract is called the Extracellular Matrix.

This protein-based substance can also be found in human fetuses and assists in repairing any damage incurred by even the most hardcore fetus. Supposedly when the extracellular matrix is turned into a powder and applied to a wound the substance breaks down the surrounding tissue and causes it to rebuild in the same way it would in the womb. Which theoretically should let you heal stab wounds in seconds, while the knife wielding thug looks on in terror, stuttering, "T-THAT's IMPOSSIBLE!"

Well, maybe not exactly that quickly. But within four weeks of applying the powder, Spievack's finger tip grew back, nail and all.

The only problem is ...
Some scientists do contend that he could have tossed Pop Rocks on the stub and he still may have grown back the finger tip, as it wasn't like he had lost the whole finger or anything so a natural healing wasn't out of the question. Still, as we type this sentence, military research is being conducted on this pig bladder based limb re-grower. So as unbelievable as the story sounds, at least somebody thinks there's something to it.

We can't argue with helping the wounded grow back tissue and limbs. The problem will come once somebody inevitably says, "You know, since we're growing it back anyway, we might as well grow it back better."

We could be looking at a future of monstrocities, swimmers cutting off their hands to get webbed fingers, basketball players adding a foot to their height by cutting off their legs, and men doing the unthinkable for the chance to be endowed like a porn star. Clearly this would be a terrible thing, somehow.

#1. Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman

The Character's Power: Invisibility.

Wikipedia says, "She has the psionic ability to manipulate ambient cosmic energy to mentally bend all wavelengths of light (including infrared and ultraviolet radiation) around her body without causing any visible distortion." See, that's why Wikipedia is untrustworthy. It took 30 words to say something that only takes one.

How Science Can Give It To You:
Retro-Reflectum.

Susumu Tachi, a scientist at Tokyo University, is hard at work on a ground-breaking piece of tech that could very well be one of mankind's greatest achievements ... until it's used by chronic masturbators to peer in on your sexual exploits, that is.

What Tachi has done is create the fabled invisibility cloak through the usage of a camera that records a background image. This Background image is then projected via a device that scientists have dubbed a "Projector" that actually "projects" the background image on to a screen.

Here's where the real science comes in to play: This projection can only be seen on a special material known as retro-reflectum, a material made-up of thousands of tiny beads that were specially designed to capture the projected image. This retro-reflectum allows a projected image to be seen in three dimensions or, rather, to be projected in three dimensions. The image wraps around the cloak wearing subject, thus, creating a sense of blending in with the moving background.


A platoon tests prototype retro-reflectum camoflage

Tachi envisions a future where such a system lets pilots look right through the floor of a plane's cockpit to see the ground (or, you could do the same with the passengers if you wanted to fuck with them) or it could be used on surgical gloves, so surgeons can see through their own hands and get a full view of the operation.

Time magazine even dubbed it one of the "Coolest Inventions" of 2003, saying it would be on the market by 2008, so it's a little late.

The only problem is ...
Or is it? Couldn't somebody be outside your window right now?

Even if nobody is watching you in the shower every night, the military is going wild thinking about chilling ways to apply the stuff. The fine folks at DARPA (the Department of Defense's research and development team that created ARPANET, the precursor to the very same internet you are using right now) wants to create shields for soldiers that can be seen and fired through from one side, invisible and bulletproof from the other.

They have given plenty of scientific reasoning explaining how this would work but halfway through reading it we came to the conclusion that it must have not been in English. The whole thing just sounds like cheating.



Because those superheroes are going to need something to protect us against, please enjoy David Wong's look at 5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen. Or check out the greatest pizza ad you've ever seen.

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