5 Superpowers Ruined By Science
If there’s one thing that nerds love more than superpowers, it’s pedantry. So, why not take a moment to combine those two passions in our own special kind of obnoxious team-up? The idea of waking up one day with the superpower of your choice is a fun, enjoyable daydream, but at the same time, the ramifications of your newfound talent might be a lot more complicated than you’d think. In order to actually make use of one especially lucky mutation, you might have to hope that a handful more came with it.
Here are five superpowers that are ruined by the specter of real science.
Super Speed, Super Friction
So you’ve gotten hit by some bolt of magic lightning, or some other element generally associated with speed. Now you’ve got the get-off of a jet engine, while simultaneously bringing the amount you’ll ever spend on airfare again in your life down to zero. You’re suddenly the fastest object on earth, everything else stuck at a creaky standstill comparatively.
Well, that’s part of the problem. Sure, you might be able to outrun a speeding bullet, but thanks to your own speed, pretty much any small object you might collide with will do the bullet’s job for it. Even just running through the molecules of our atmosphere is going to cause enough friction to leave you looking like something straight out of the Bodies exhibit. Not to mention that unless you’ve got access to some space-age Gold Bond, your thighs are going to smell like smoked sausage by the time you slow down.
Invisibility Means You’re Blind
Invisibility: the greatest desire of massive creeps everywhere. If one day you wake up and walk to your bathroom mirror, only to see a set of hollow pajamas staring back at you, you’re immediately the perfect hero for anything stealthy, right? The world’s bank vaults and locker rooms are now your immoral little oysters… Well, not quite.
Mainly because if you were to wake up one day invisible, meaning, in some way, that your body reflects no light for anyone else to see, you actually wouldn’t know it. You’d instead wake up and realize that you were suddenly blind, thanks to the retinas of your eyes sharing the same power in a much more useless way. In fact, the first person to figure out you were invisible would probably be a terrified roommate, significant other or parent, exploring the sound of you knocking over a nightstand with your clumsy, invisible flailing.
X-Ray Vision Radiation Poisoning
Let’s keep the creep train rolling with another classic power: X-ray vision. A stalwart tool of Superman, his X-ray vision allows him to see right through objects and humans, helpful for working around any major city’s abundance of walls. Now, in Superman’s specific case, he’s probably fine using it, since he is pretty much completely invincible in the most absolutely boring of ways.
For somebody without complete carte blanche against any sort of injury, though? Having or ever using X-ray vision wouldn’t be nearly worth sneaking a peek at some pedestrian’s bloomers or making a small fortune at three-card monte. That’s because, if we’re taking this at face value, every millisecond you’re using x-ray vision, you’re firing up two small radioactive spheres right in the middle of that most important extremity — the head. You’d look a whole lot less like a lantern-jawed Clark Kent and a whole lot more like somebody who just spent spring break suntanning in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. It’s a zombie! It’s a dog with mange! Oh, gross, it’s X-Ray Vision Man.
Super Strength Better Come With Super Bones
It doesn’t get much simpler, as far as superpowers go, than good old super strength. In fact, super strength is barely a power at all in the comic book world nowadays, instead being pretty much the foundation on which other, weirder powers are stacked. Super strength is the free space on the bingo card of superhero traits. But it might be out of necessity, since it’s an easy catch-all to explain, for example, why Spider-Man’s arm doesn’t rip off like a tender drumstick every time he stops a freefall with a last-minute web.
Even by itself, though, the idea of super-strength requires a lot of caveats because of its own nemesis: Newton’s third law of motion. If you haven’t brushed up on your basic physics, this is the law that says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Sure, you can hand-wave all this away by saying that super-strength comes part and parcel with super-resilient muscles and incredibly strong bones, but you’d better be damn sure about that before you try to pick up a city bus on two thoroughly normal tibias.
Being Able to Communicate With Sea Creatures
Though already a famous superhero punching bag, if the choice were to have Aquaman’s signature superpower or none at all, would you go for it? After all, when you aren’t competing with an entire cinematic universe of people with much less niche powers, you might just be top dog. At the very least, you’d be able to do that thing where you can ride on dolphins’ backs like they’re wet blubbery surfboards.
However, to have the power to talk to, and more importantly, hear sea creatures, would also mean one devastating thing: You would never again be able to enjoy a delicious seafood boil. Take a trip to New Orleans or Baltimore if you want, but you’ll forever be unable to enjoy the bounty of fresh-cooked, delightfully spicy shellfish after hearing them beg you for mercy. Sure, you could stick to the Cheddar Bay Biscuits at a Red Lobster, but even staying strictly vegetarian, it would be like trying to enjoy a pasta primavera next to an electric chair.