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8 People With "Real" Superpowers

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We all dream of having some superpower to help navigate life. For instance, I've always wanted to be able to read peoples' minds. To me, that would be the most awesome of any power one could posses. (Okay, maybe I'm suspicious and neurotic, but hey, everyone also has his kryptonite, right?)

Here are eight people who posses some major superpowers. Please note: we're having some fun here in this post. We don't claim that any of these abilities are actually "superpowers" as we've grown used to defining them. When you're done reading, drop a line in the comment and tell us what superpower you wish you had.

1. Super Baby

In 1999, a baby was born in Germany that wowed nurses and doctors. Instead of the usual mushy baby fat, Uberboy, as he's come to be called, sported ripped muscles. The tot's amazing physique was caused by a genetic disorder that eliminates the myostatin gene, which limits muscle development. The boy's identity has been closely guarded, however there are reports that at five years old, he could hold 7 lbs in each hand with his arms outstretched—a feat reportedly difficult for the average adult. Other members of his family also are known to exhibit excessive strength, including his grandfather who is said to be able to lift 330 lbs paving stones single handedly.

Uberboy's prognosis is unknown and his condition continues to be monitored. It is unclear if this genetic alteration will cause his muscle development to be completely depleted at a young age or not. Scientists are hoping that by studying Uberboy's muscle development and the genes that cause it, they will find therapies to help patients with muscular dystrophy—a super commendable mission.

2. The Iceman

Running shirtless and shoeless may not seem like a super human power, until you consider that Wim Hof ran a half marathon 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle where the temperature is nearly -20 degrees and the run took 5 hours and 25 minutes! At one point, the attending physician on the run warned Hof not to continue because she couldn't guarantee that his toes would survive. (They did.) The Iceman practices Tummo, a way of controlling the body's temperature that is usually only mastered by Tibetan Yogi Monks. To add to his records and feats, Hof has climbed Kilamanjaro in 2 days wearing nothing but his signature black shorts. He also broke his own record of the longest ice bath by staying submerged in ice for 1 hour 13 minutes and 48 seconds. Talk about, er, cool! In 2007, he attempted to climb Mount Everest wearing only the shorts, but failed. Not because he was too cold, however, rather because he injured his foot.

3. The Real Aquaman

New Zealander Dave Mullins is capable of swimming underwater for not only record amount of time, but also record distance. In September 2007, Mullins shattered his own record when he swam underwater for 4 minutes 2 seconds, swimming a total distance of 244 meters with a single breath. Mullins, whose specialty is free diving, set a New Zealand record in April 2008 when he dove 108 meters with no oxygen tank or specialized equipment. He's only the fifth man in New Zealand to reach a depth of 100 meters. Mullins trains his muscles to work while deprived of oxygen. This allows him to swim further and longer, but also leads to a build-up of lactic acid in his leg muscles. After a record breaking swim, Mullins requires a few days of recovery, but he's
still pretty super.

4. Super Audiation Boy

Blinded by cancer as a toddler, Ben Underwood developed the ability to "see" using echolocation. By clicking his tongue, Underwood read the sound waves that bounce off of objects around him. He not only could use these reading to navigate around the objects, but could also identify what he was "seeing." This ability allowed him to function like any other teenager. In fact, the only difference between him and his classmates during his freshman year, was that he took his notes in Braille. Underwood taught himself to roller blade, skateboard, and participate in martial arts, all using echolocation. Sadly, the cancer that claimed his eyesight, took his life in January 2009 at the age of 16. Perhaps his greatest super power was taking lemons and making some really rocking lemonade.

5. Incrediboy Wonder

At 6 ft, 280 lbs, Chris Morgan is a formidable teenager who was chosen as Britain's Strongest Schoolboy in 2009. He is able to lift a Ford Fiesta, weighing in at almost a ton. Morgan consumes 5,000 calories a day and works out at least 5 times a week. Weighing only 5 lbs 5 oz at birth, he grew up watching the World's Strongest Man competition each Christmas and aspired to win it himself. Morgan helps out around the house by lifting furniture as his mother vacuums. He credits his amazing strength to his strict regimen of exercise.

6. Zamora


Tim Cridland, better known as Zamora, has been a sideshow phenomenon for decades, able to perform such tortuous tasks as skewering his lower jaw with a sharp rod by sticking it in his mouth and out below his chin. He's also able to cut into his torso to retrieve recently swallowed items. He insists that he's able to perform these tasks through a Zen-like approach that allows him to transcend pain. However, many in the medical community believe that Cridland was born with a genetic alteration that causes him to experience no pain. What's more unbelievable is that he performs these gruesome tricks regularly on tours, day after day, month after month. Talk about super-human stamina.

7. X-ray Vision Girl

Natasha Demkina developed an interesting hobby when she was 10 years old. She found that she could scan her mother's body and describe in intimate detail the location and condition of all of her mom's organs. News soon spread and her neighbors in her hometown of Saransk, in Western Russia, began showing up at her doorstep for body scans and diagnoses. The local children's hospital decided to test her abilities and the girl was able to draw a diagram of one doctor's stomach with a dark area in the exact spot of his ulcer. She also contested the cancer diagnosis of one patient; later tests supported Demkina's diagnosis of a benign cyst. In England, "x-ray" scans of another doctor led Demkina to describe multiple injuries that one of the doctors had received in a severe car crash without any knowledge of the accident, and the doctor was fully clothed! Obviously Natasha's abilities have been questioned. We put this on the list because it's fun, like all the others. To read some of the debunking, check out this post here on LiveScience.

8. Super Healer

In Abadiânia, Brazil, there lives and works a man who appears to have the power to perform invisible surgeries with his hands. My brother has actually made the trip to Brazil to meet this man, known as John of God (born João de Teixeira de Faria in 1942). At 16, while wandering from village to village looking for work, Joao had a vision to go to a local church. It is said that he performed healing miracles there. Although he says he has no memory of this, it established him as a world-class healer. Today, thousands of people visit John of God daily for healing. He performs visible surgeries without any anesthesia (my brother says people have witnessed him sticking his hand in a man's stomach and pulling out a tumor) and also invisible surgeries by laying on hands and also from afar. According to supporters of John, visible sutures have been seen on body scans of those who have undergone invisible surgeries. Again, this one made the list because of all the attention John of God has received (including his own 20/20 segment). My brother was not cured of his ailment, and came home saying he was highly skeptical, as are many people, and that John was nothing but a magician. But he also said that for those who've been healed, John of God's superpowers should not be underestimated. Here's a good post debunking John of God.

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Live Smarter
Researchers Say You’re Exercising More Than You Think
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They say a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. If the thought of a thousand-mile journey makes you tired, we've got some great news for you: You've probably already completed one.* A new study published in the journal Health Psychology [PDF] finds that people underestimate the amount of exercise they're getting—and that this underestimation could be harmful.

Psychologists at Stanford University pulled data on 61,141 American adults from two huge studies conducted in the 1990s and the early 2000s: the National Health Interview Survey and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants answered questionnaires about their lifestyles, health, and exercise habits, and some wore accelerometers to track their movement. Everybody was asked one key question: "Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about as active as other persons your age?"

The researchers then tapped into the National Death Index through 2011 to find out which of the participants were still alive 10 to 20 years later.

Combining these three studies yielded two interesting facts. First, that many participants believed themselves to be less active than they actually were. Second, and more surprisingly, they found that people who rated themselves as "less active" were more likely to die—even when their actual activity rates told a different story. The reverse was also true: People who overestimated their exercise had lower mortality rates.

There are many reasons this could be the case. Depression and other mental illnesses can certainly influence both our self-perception and our overall health. The researchers attempted to control for this variable by checking participants' stress levels and asking if they'd seen a mental health professional in the last year. But not everybody who needs help can get it, and many people could have slipped through the cracks.

Paper authors Octavia Zahrt and Alia Crum have a different hypothesis. They say our beliefs about exercise could actually affect our risk of death. "Placebo effects are very robust in medicine," Crum said in a statement. "It is only logical to expect that they would play a role in shaping the benefits of behavioral health as well."

The data suggest that our ideas about exercise and exercise itself are two very different things. If all your friends are marathoners and mountain climbers, you might feel like a sloth—even if you regularly spend your lunch hour in yoga class.

Crum and Zahrt say we could all benefit from relaxing our definition of "exercise."

"Many people think that the only healthy physical activity is vigorous exercise in a gym or on a track," Zahrt told Mental Floss in an email. "They underestimate the importance of just walking to the store, taking the stairs, cleaning the house, or carrying the kids."
 
*The average American takes about 5000 steps per day, or roughly 2.5 miles. At that pace, it would take just a little over a year to walk 1000 miles.

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Medicine
Scientists Are Working on a Way to Treat Eye Floaters With Lasers
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Even people with 20/20 eyesight should be familiar with this scenario: You're enjoying a clear view when a faint doodle shape drifts into your peripheral vision like an organism under a microscope. Floaters affect almost everyone, but there's currently no medically accepted, non-invasive way to treat them. Two doctors with Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston are working to change that. As IFLScience reports, the team believes that lasers may be the solution to bothersome eye squiggles.

As Chirag Shah and Jeffrey Heier write in their study in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, lasers can be used to safely combat the underlying causes of floaters. Also known as muscae volitantes, Latin for “hovering flies,” the condition comes from physical debris leaking into your eyeball. The front of your eyes is filled with a liquid called vitreous humor, and when drops of that gelatinous substance break off from the whole, the bits cast shadows on your retinas that look like gray blobs. Because floaters literally float inside your eyes, trying to focus on one is almost impossible.

These spots aren't typically a problem for young people, but as you get older your vitreous humor becomes more watery, which increases the chance of it slipping out and clouding your vision. Retinal detachment and retinal tears are also rare but serious causes of symptomatic floaters.

Shah and Heier tested a new method of pinpointing and eliminating floaters with a YAG laser (a type of laser often used in cataract surgery) on 36 patients. An additional 16 test subjects were treated with a sham laser as a placebo. They found that 54 percent of the treated participants saw their floaters decrease over six months, compared to just 9 percent of the control group. So far, the procedure appears be safe and free of side effects, but researchers noted that more follow-up time is needed to determine if those results are long-term.

At the moment, people with symptomatic floaters can choose between surgery or living with the ailment for the rest of their lives. YAG laser treatment may one day offer a safe and easy alternative, but the researchers say they will need to expand the size of future studies before the treatment is ready to go public.

[h/t IFLScience]

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