How unrealistic are super powers?

  • Thread starter MathJakob
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  • #1
MathJakob
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Obviously I'm not talking about humans running around at super speed, turning invisible or flying or any such nonsense. Although when you think about how strange and quirky the universe is on the quantum level, is it really outrageous to suggest that there could be life out there in the universe which does have "super powers" such as being able to turn invisible or fire lazers from their eyeballs... How about being able to interact with electrical things with their mind!

I know this all seems stupid and a pretty stupid thread but when the universe is full of crazy things, is this stuff really that stupid to think about? It could be possible that there is life out there that has what we would class as a super power?
 

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  • #2
Enigman
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Try this on for size: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_Lee's_Superhumans
Not really super though...
EDIT:BTW shooting lasers from eyes is pretty unrealistic compared to others you mention. Shooting Laser would require a lot of energy, but that's not my main argument; using eyes to shoot LASER is unrealistic as having another organ would make a bit more sense.
 
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  • #3
256bits
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Just take a look around and list all the 'super' powers that life on this Earth has. Birds can fly, flying insects, spiders spin webs, a certain lizard can shoot blood out of its eye, insects use camouflage, a chameleon that can change color, carnivorous plants, stinky shunks, fish breathing through gill in water, exoskeletons, quilled pocupines, sonar from bats, bees that can see UV rays, and the list goes on. So right here on Earth there is a wide variety of adaptations that animals ( and plants ) do use to better their chances of survival that we know about.
 
  • #4
Vanadium 50
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How do you turn invisible without also being blind?
 
  • #5
MathJakob
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How do you turn invisible without also being blind?

Maybe the creatures who can turn invisible use echo location instead of sight? Also maybe they do turn invisible but only their eyes remain
 
  • #6
Ryan_m_b
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Many animals can "turn invisible" by changing their colourings to match the surroundings. Many abilities that animals have resemble fictional superpowers but there isn't anything magic about that, taking the conversation down the line of quantum weirdness is detractive IMO.
 
  • #7
MathJakob
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Many animals can "turn invisible" by changing their colourings to match the surroundings. Many abilities that animals have resemble fictional superpowers but there isn't anything magic about that, taking the conversation down the line of quantum weirdness is detractive IMO.

Changing colour to match your surroundings is nothing like a super power. Sure a cricket can jump crazy high and far but it isn't possible for a larger animal to have to same ability otherwise you'd break your skeleton when you landed...

One super power that I'm thinking off mainly would be telekinesis and telepathy. We can already control a rats tail using just our thoughts but that requires computers, wires ect.
 
  • #8
Enigman
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Telekinesis? Nope not possible. You have to use a long range force- ie gravity or Electromagnetic force. To use gravity you would need a crazy amount of energy whereas for electromagnetic force would just electrocute you...
And then there is the lack of direction control....just attracting something towards you- not the best evolutionary tool. As for invisibility as Ryan said and MathJakob disagreed that it would be done by changing colours like animals...well here are a few alternatives within bounds of available technology:http://www.howstuffworks.com/invisibility-cloak.htm
As for telepathy, well it is slightly feasible, I mean we can do it with mobile phones...Something interesting I found a while back:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_pseudo-telepathy

EDIT: Wait a second I just remembered that sound waves can be used for telekinesis...http://www.engadget.com/2013/07/16/scientists-use-sound-to-move-and-mix-liquids/
 
  • #9
MathJakob
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Yeh I read about the harry potter invisibility cloak but it works by bending light around the cloak right? but As Vanadium rightly said you'd go blind because no light would enter your eyes, unless of course you leave the eyes un cloaked.

I think telepathy will certainly progress into something more than moving a rats tail and having a bunch of eletrodes strapped to us with computers ect. Unfortunately we probably won't be around to see it but I think eventually we could develop "wireless" telepathy. Your thoughts are transmitted through your brain to a tiny computer which has a wire going from the computer to your brain to detect the thoughts which then sends the thought over to the correct machine.
 
  • #10
Enigman
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Woops pressed post twice...
 
  • #11
Enigman
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Yeh I read about the harry potter invisibility cloak but it works by bending light around the cloak right? but As Vanadium rightly said you'd go blind because no light would enter your eyes, unless of course you leave the eyes un cloaked.
Pretty much, it uses either heated carbon nanotubes or metamaterials but there is also augmented reality technology which uses projectors and cameras; just like the Bond car in 'Die Another Day' the link I gave goes into detail about it. Oh as far as I know the cloaks only work for certain frequencies so real world military application is pretty much screwed..

I think telepathy will certainly progress into something more than moving a rats tail and having a bunch of electrodes strapped to us with computers etc. Unfortunately we probably won't be around to see it but I think eventually we could develop "wireless" telepathy. Your thoughts are transmitted through your brain to a tiny computer which has a wire going from the computer to your brain to detect the thoughts which then sends the thought over to the correct machine.
Will have a lot of ethical objections...But disregarding them, the computer will necessarily have to use quantum entanglement or everyone's lives could easily be hacked. Interesting ideas, will have to think about it a bit more...
 
  • #12
Pythagorean
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Yeh I read about the harry potter invisibility cloak but it works by bending light around the cloak right? but As Vanadium rightly said you'd go blind because no light would enter your eyes, unless of course you leave the eyes un cloaked.

I think telepathy will certainly progress into something more than moving a rats tail and having a bunch of eletrodes strapped to us with computers ect. Unfortunately we probably won't be around to see it but I think eventually we could develop "wireless" telepathy. Your thoughts are transmitted through your brain to a tiny computer which has a wire going from the computer to your brain to detect the thoughts which then sends the thought over to the correct machine.

It doesn't have to be 100% reflective. we already have one way mirrors for interrogation rooms. You do a mix that's predominately reflective with some transmission.
 
  • #13
Ryan_m_b
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Changing colour to match your surroundings is nothing like a super power. Sure a cricket can jump crazy high and far but it isn't possible for a larger animal to have to same ability otherwise you'd break your skeleton when you landed...

I don't understand at all, are you suggesting that for something to be a "super power" it has to be unrealistic? In that case nothing you would define as a super power is possible.

One super power that I'm thinking off mainly would be telekinesis and telepathy. We can already control a rats tail using just our thoughts but that requires computers, wires ect.

I don't know of any mechanism by which telekinesis would work. For telepathy I suppose it's not impossible to imagine that an organism could evolve some form of biological radio and communicate that way. But that's hugely speculative.
 
  • #14
Borek
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I have a feeling you have not defined what "super power" means. Try to define it unambiguously, then the discussion will make sense.
 
  • #16
Ryan_m_b
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That's some interesting technology but I'm not sure why you would class an entity capable of levitating small particles above an appendage with sound waves as a superpower but not camouflage.

I agree with Borek that it would be good if you gave the definition of superpower that you are using.
 
  • #17
Enigman
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That's some interesting technology but I'm not sure why you would class an entity capable of levitating small particles above an appendage with sound waves as a superpower but not camouflage.

I agree with Borek that it would be good if you gave the definition of superpower that you are using.

You are confusing me with the OP....And I wasn't saying that it was a superpower just that telekinesis might be feasible.
EDIT:I also mentioned light waves...
 
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  • #18
Pythagorean
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Basically, these all fall under Batman's main superpower: super rich guy with access to top notch engineers and the aptitude to use the technology effectively.
 
  • #19
Enigman
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The Bat was a superb engineer himself (held advanced degrees in Physics, chemistry, Biology, computer science, physics, criminal psychology) but most of his equipments were made by wayne tech which would then be modified by Bat to his own tastes...
I just found this trolling through the web: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_Batman's_education
 
  • #20
Pythagorean
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He sounds like he's basically as a super as you can get without being supernatural about it.
 
  • #21
Enigman
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  • #22
MathJakob
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Ok you're right I have not been clear about what I think a super power would be. In my eyes a super power is the ability to do something without technology which would otherwise be impossible. For example everyone knows person can't fly, but if one day you could fly, that would be a super power.

If I could move things just by thinking about moving it, if I could someone interact with the electromagnetic field ect. I don't want to say a super power is something which defies the laws of physics because the laws of physics are the same for everything in the universe so there could never be a super power.

I just think that a super power is something which should be impossible but for some unknown or known reason, maybe evolutionary reason they have developed a unique ability to do so. It's important though that it has to be done without the use of technology because then it's just an invention and not a super power.
 
  • #23
Enigman
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I just think that a super power is something which should be impossible but for some unknown or known reason, maybe evolutionary reason they have developed a unique ability to do so. It's important though that it has to be done without the use of technology because then it's just an invention and not a super power.

If the ability has (or can be) developed then it ceases to be impossible, so your question is essentially " is super power unrealistic given that superpower is impossible?"
A better definition or question would be better...
p.s. ect. is electroconvulsive therapy the [STRIKE]acronym[/STRIKE] abbreviation you are looking for is etc.; just mentioning it because you used it twice.
 
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  • #24
Dembadon
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If the ability has (or can be) developed then it ceases to be impossible, so your question is essentially " is super power unrealistic given that superpower is impossible?"
A better definition or question would be better...
p.s. ect. is electroconvulsive therapy the acronym you are looking for is etc.; just mentioning it because you used it twice.

etc. is an abbreviation, not an acronym. :tongue:
 
  • #25
Enigman
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etc. is an abbreviation, not an acronym. :tongue:

ooops-:blushing:
 
  • #26
Ryan_m_b
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You are confusing me with the OP....And I wasn't saying that it was a superpower just that telekinesis might be feasible.
EDIT:I also mentioned light waves...
Oops, so I did. Sorry.
In my eyes a super power is the ability to do something without technology which would otherwise be impossible. For example everyone knows person can't fly, but if one day you could fly, that would be a super power.
I'm confused. If it is impossible to do without technology then the answer is that it is impossible. But then you go on to suggest evolution which would mean that it wasn't impossible without technology.
 
  • #27
Enigman
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Oops, so I did. Sorry.

I'm confused. If it is impossible to do without technology then the answer is that it is impossible. But then you go on to suggest evolution which would mean that it wasn't impossible without technology.
:approve:Just what I said before.....
If the ability has (or can be) developed then it ceases to be impossible, so your question is essentially " is super power unrealistic given that superpower is impossible?"
A better definition or question would be better...
:uhh:
 
  • #28
zoobyshoe
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Ok you're right I have not been clear about what I think a super power would be. In my eyes a super power is the ability to do something without technology which would otherwise be impossible. For example everyone knows person can't fly, but if one day you could fly, that would be a super power.

If I could move things just by thinking about moving it, if I could someone interact with the electromagnetic field ect. I don't want to say a super power is something which defies the laws of physics because the laws of physics are the same for everything in the universe so there could never be a super power.

I just think that a super power is something which should be impossible but for some unknown or known reason, maybe evolutionary reason they have developed a unique ability to do so. It's important though that it has to be done without the use of technology because then it's just an invention and not a super power.
Basically you're saying a power isn't a super power unless it contradicts the laws of physics. We can't really give the title to any power that can be explained by science.

I'd agree with that based on the origin of the term, which, as far as I know, was the Superman comic.

That being the case the answer to the thread title is: completely unrealistic. By definition, there are no superpowers.

Regardless, if you would like to have the experience of being confronted by an apparent superpower, this is doable, if you're only suggestible enough:



Outside of illusion and hallucination (naturally occurring or induced by drugs or a clever hypnotist) you won't encounter any superpowers.
 
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  • #29
Enigman
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Outside of illusion and hallucination (naturally occurring or induced by drugs or a clever hypnotist) you won't encounter any superpowers.

Hey, the power of thought is pretty super in itself, when compared to other powers that animals have...squirting blood from eyes? Please, here's a paint gun for you. Humans are never content with what they have...greedy monosynaptic cretins. IMHO technology is the best superpower...Bat can take down Superman anyday, Iron Man if inclined could take down the whole Avengers himself, except perhaps Thor, they are almost a equal match but Iron man could always nuke him out...
 
  • #30
MathJakob
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Basically you're saying a power isn't a super power unless it contradicts the laws of physics. We can't really give the title to any power that can be explained by science.

That being the case the answer to the thread title is: completely unrealistic. By definition, there are no superpowers.

This is basically the answer I was looking for. So it is safe to say that there can be no life in the universe which has a super power, because to posses such a power would mean breaking the laws of physics?

So there is no possible way that for as long as humans are alive we will never be able to evolve an ability to read minds, move objects without touching them, turn invisible or interact with electricity without getting fried lol.
 
  • #31
Enigman
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Only with tech. Technology ROCKZ!
 
  • #32
zoobyshoe
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This is basically the answer I was looking for. So it is safe to say that there can be no life in the universe which has a super power, because to posses such a power would mean breaking the laws of physics?
If we define "superpower" as a power that contradicts the laws of physics, then, yes, it follows that there will be no life in the universe with superpowers.

So there is no possible way that for as long as humans are alive we will never be able to evolve an ability to read minds, move objects without touching them, turn invisible or interact with electricity without getting fried lol.
We can already do some version of all these things, but not in a way that violates the laws of physics. Rather than mention specific things it would be better to broadly assert that we will never evolve to the point where we can authentically violate the laws of physics. (That's pretty much tautological, I reckon, since we're going to define anything we can do as within the laws of physics, whether or not we've figured out what those laws are yet.)
 
  • #33
MathJakob
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OK I've just found this video and I'm stunned... it could be fake you never know with these shows but I'm not so sure.

This indian man can withstand massive amounts of electricity, his resistance is 10 times that of a normal persons and the electricity flows through his body to power light bulbs, fruit blenders and even a flat plate grill.

Although he says that he loses his vision a little when doing this... is this not an example that humans can have "super powers". OK it isn't exactly a super power but it goes against everything we know about electricity. Could you imagine how cool it would be to have a battery pack that was sending electricity through your body, you could touch people and zap them lol
 
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  • #34
Pythagorean
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I'm sure whatever the case, it doesn't really go against biology or electricity. Biological systems are complex and diverse enough that some people will just have extreme properties, but it doesn't require a violation of laws of physics.
 
  • #35
zoobyshoe
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I watched the electric man video and can't think of any easy explanation for it.

The whole business about his resistance was garbled and unreliable, though. High resistance would hinder him from conducting electricity, not help.

They were measuring the resistance of his skin. This site says:

But if the electrocution is by an AC source, the epidermis's natural resistance is "shorted out", allowing the current to bypass that part of the body's resistance and making the body's total resistance much lower.

http://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=6793

My tentative wild guess, then, would be that he is a biological freak such that his skin offers vastly lower resistance than the average person's when "shorted out" by AC. This would make the current favor the path of his skin from one place to another and keep it away from his internal organs, particularly his heart.

They should have measured the voltage drop, if any, with him in the circuit, and I would like to have seen them take his skin temperature before and during the demonstration, to see if it got any hotter.
 

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