8 People With "Real" Superpowers

iStock / LightFieldStudios
iStock / LightFieldStudios

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.

12 Back-to-School Products to Add to Your Shopping List

Kritchanut/iStock via Getty Images
Kritchanut/iStock via Getty Images

Before you know it, your long days (and often longer nights) will be booked with group projects, research papers, and probably some social events, too. It can be difficult to adjust to the sudden onslaught of new responsibilities that come during back-to-school season, but it can help if you feel prepared. Take a look at our 2019 must-have school supplies list to ensure that you’re well-equipped for whatever the fall semester throws at you.

1. Rocketbook Everlast Fusion; $35-$37

Rocketbook everlast fusion
Amazon

Do yourself and the environment a favor and check out the Rocketbook Everlast Fusion, a notebook with 42 reusable pages that will prevent you from ever having to buy another sheet of paper. With seven different page templates for planning, listing, goal-setting, note-taking, sketching, scheduling, and sharing big ideas, the Rocketbook is perfect for students of all ages and disciplines. It comes with one erasable Pilot FriXion pen, and you can also use any other Pilot FriXion utensils on it, markers and highlighters included. What happens when you’ve written on all 42 pages and you’d like to save your work? Simply scan your pages with the free Rocketbook app and upload them to the cloud service of your choice—Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Slack, iCloud, and more. You can get the executive-sized, 6-inch-by-8.8-inch Rocketbook for $35, or the regular letter-sized, 8.5-inch-by-11-inch version for $37.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Bob Ross Agenda; $16

Bob Ross agenda
Amazon

Because Bob Ross understands the importance of going with the flow, this calendar agenda lists only the days of the week, but no dates. Don’t feel like writing anything down in October? Skip it completely without the guilt of seeing blank pages in your planner. Each two-page spread pairs the days of the week on one side with a picturesque, tranquil Bob Ross painting on the other. You can also personalize your calendar entries with Bob Ross-themed stickers included in the back of the agenda, featuring catchphrases like “Be a gentle whisper,” “Just relax and watch it happen,” and “Let’s get crazy!”

Buy it: Amazon

3. Wild Rose Large Planner; $37

papersource wild rose large planner
Paper Source

For those happy to adhere to a date-specific planner, here’s a lovely gold-accented floral option from Paper Source. The 7-inch-by-8.5-inch agenda includes both monthly and weekly calendar pages, so you can see the big-picture overview of your month as well as your day-by-day tasks. There are pages for notes, important dates, and contacts, plus a pocket folder, ruler, and quotes to inspire you. And, because we all love a bit of decoration, there are sticker sheets in the back that feature dainty doodles of flowers, champagne glasses, and more.

Buy it: Paper Source

4. Bluetooth Portable Keyboard; $45-$55

Bluetooth plugable portable foldable keyboard
Amazon

Unburden yourself (and your possibly overstuffed tote bag) from the need to carry around both your tablet and laptop by investing in this portable Bluetooth keyboard that folds into a package smaller than a paperback book and has separate compatibility modes for Android, iOS, and Windows. You only have to charge it once every few weeks, but don’t worry about forgetting—you can always plug it right into your device with the included USB cord. The handy gadget also comes with a case, which doubles as a stand for your electronic device. Though the 11.5-inch-long standard-sized keyboard might be the first choice for those with standard-sized fingers, there’s also a 10-inch compact option for fans of especially miniature things.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Park Foundation Water Bottle; $40

National Parks Foundation water bottle
DICK'S Sporting Goods

These hip Hydro Flask water bottles are each decorated with a design of one of America’s most cherished national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, Joshua Tree, and Olympic National Parks. The 21-ounce, stainless-steel bottles feature double-walled vacuum insulation that will not only keep your beverage hot for up to 12 hours or cold for 24, but will also prevent condensation from forming on the bottle and soaking whatever park pamphlets you’ve got tucked inside your backpack.

Buy it: DICK’S Sporting Goods

6. Herschel Backpack; $56-$80

herschel navy backpack
Amazon

Herschel backpacks have become a standard for students, professionals, and practically all other people, in part because there’s a color or pattern to match every unique personality. In addition to representing your individuality, they’ll also last you many years, keep your shoulders comfortable with padded straps, and provide you with the perfect amount of space to store your laptop, schoolbooks, case files, overnight toiletries, and snacks. Peruse Amazon’s extensive collection to find out which one best fits you.

Buy it: Amazon

7. PacSafe Anti-Theft Backpack; $130

pacsafe anti-theft backpack
Luggage Designers

If you’ve ever decided to crank out an essay or project in a café, you’re probably familiar with the quandary of needing a bathroom break but not wanting to lose your seat or leave your belongings unattended. Instead of asking a potentially untrustworthy stranger if they can watch your stuff, try PacSafe’s anti-theft backpack, which boasts lockable zippers and straps, so you can fasten your backpack right to your table; the fabric and straps contain wire mesh, so nobody will be able to cut them (without some serious tools, that is). The Nylon backpack can fit a 15-inch laptop and includes several inside pockets to help you stay organized; you can also detach the straps and carry it like a small briefcase using the handle on the side.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Syver Wireless Speaker and Earbuds; $100

wicked audio syver bluetooth speaker and earbuds
Wicked Audio

Music-streaming services like Spotify make it possible for you to create an epic soundtrack for your life virtually everywhere you go, whether it’s a simple walk between classes or a backyard barbecue with your roommates and 50 of your closest friends. Check out Wicked Audio’s Syver, a two-in-one device that includes a Bluetooth speaker and wireless earbuds so you can toggle seamlessly between personal listening and party listening. Enhanced bass and noise isolation ensure you’re hearing the music exactly as the artists intended it, and the devices are also waterproof, so they’re safe from spilled drinks, pools, inclement weather, and the toilet.

Buy it: Wicked Audio

9. Fineliner Pens; $9

taotree fineliner pens
Amazon

Taotree’s Fineliner pens are a bullet journaler’s best friend, but you don’t have to be a master of organization to take advantage of these 24 brightly colored, versatile utensils. You could use them to color-code your class notes, pair them with a coloring book for the ultimate de-stressing session, or design your own fine-ink drawings. They dry quickly, won’t bleed through your paper, and have a soft-edged triangular shape for easy gripping. With an average 4.5-star review on Amazon, these pens will add color and character to all of your written projects.

Buy it: Amazon

10. PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag; $20

packit freezable lunch bag
Amazon

With PackIt’s freezable lunch bag, you’ll never again have to jam ice packs around your meal-prepped containers—as long as you remember to pop the bag in the freezer the night before you’re planning to use it. The walls are insulated with a freezing gel that will refrigerate your food until you’re ready for lunch. It zips closed to keep the cold in, collapses for easy storage, and includes a plastic buckle on the top so you can easily clip it to your backpack or bag. It also comes in a lively assortment of designs like cartoon cats, unicorns, mermaids, and cherries (and, of course, many more traditional patterns like polka dots, stripes, and camouflage).

Buy it: Amazon

11. Magnetic Dry-Erase Board; $15-$54

magnetic dry-erase board
Amazon

Whether you need to leave chore-related messages on the fridge for your roommates or homework-related messages for yourself in your locker, Yuc has a magnetic dry-erase board in every size for every situation. The smallest is 12 inches by 8 inches, the largest is 29 inches by 21 inches, and there are even weekly and monthly options so you can see your schedule at eye level. The boards are stain- and wrinkle-resistant, and each comes with a rectangular magnetic eraser, plus five different-colored fine-tipped markers whose caps also double as magnetic erasers.

Buy it: Amazon

12. SnackSack Subscription Box; $25/month

SnackSack Subscription
Amazon

Since getting back into the swing of school is always busy and exhausting, it’s easy to forgo a commitment to healthy eating and instead reach for the nearest bag of Doritos to keep you going. The SnackSack subscription box will help you make sure that doesn’t happen (too often). Each month, you’ll receive a package with 11 to 14 carefully curated, deliciously satisfying healthy snacks like bars, cookies, chips, nuts, seeds, sweets, and popcorn to support you through every all-nighter and last-minute group project—and there are vegan and gluten-free options, too.

Buy it: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

12 Facts About Netflix, Recommended For You

kasinv/iStock Editorial via Getty Images Plus
kasinv/iStock Editorial via Getty Images Plus

Netflix has become the world’s intravenous line for filmed entertainment. And like any media empire, it has a few stories of its own to tell. Take a look at some lesser-known, non-buffering facts about the streaming giant.

1. Early Netflix subscribers got a lot of Chinese pornography.

Addict man at computer laptop watching porn internet addiction concept
OcusFocus/iStock via Getty Images

In 1998, Netflix was still in the business of selling as well as renting DVDs. To try and offer consumers something new, co-founder Marc Randolph decided to offer footage of President Bill Clinton’s Grand Jury testimony about his involvement with Monica Lewinsky. But according to the book Netflixed, the duplicating house had a mix-up: out of the 1000 customers who ordered Clinton's interview, a few hundred received discs full of hardcore Chinese pornography.

2. Netflix was originally called Kibble.

Choosing a name for the company was a drawn-out process. Directpix.com, Replay.com, and other names were considered; so was Luna.com, which was the name of Randolph’s dog. When the company was being incorporated, he named it Kibble.com until they could decide on something permanent.

3. Netflix executives used to make house calls.

From the beginning, Netflix has been preoccupied with seeing how users interact with its software in order to select titles. In the late 1990s, subscribers near the company’s location in Los Gatos, California were reached via telephone and asked a series of questions. Then staffers would ask if they could stop by to watch them use the site. Surprisingly, most agreed. Netflix brought them coffee, a small investment for gaining valuable information about their usage.

4. Netflix got Dennis Quaid to sing.

For a 2006-2007 publicity tour, Netflix decided to screen films in thematically-correct locations: For example, Field of Dreams was shown in the “real” Iowa cornfield-slash-baseball diamond featured in the movie. But the company also wanted actors to make appearances. Their approach: offer to let those with bands perform for the crowds. Kevin Costner, Bruce Willis, Dennis Quaid, and Kevin Bacon all agreed to the barter deal. Quaid and his band, The Sharks, played in New Orleans before a screening of his film The Big Easy.

5. Netflix has made a science out of spoilers.

Because so much of Netflix’s high-profile content can be “binged” in a single weekend, the company commissioned cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken to examine how spoilers affect a person’s viewing habits. McCracken identified classifications of spoiler-prone people by whether they ruin a plot twist intentionally or hold it over others. (Some people are “Coded Spoilers,” too self-aware to let anything slip. These people are your friends.) His verdict? Some people enjoy the power they get from having knowledge of spoilers. But if a show is good enough, knowing about key scenes won't dissuade viewers from watching.

6. Netflix staffers think you decide on a movie in two minutes.

Apple iPad displaying Netflix app, Black with Reflection
bmcent1/iStock Editorial via Getty Images

Netflix spends more than $150 million on improving their recommendation system every year, trying to arrange selections based on what they think you might like. That kind of personalized menu is necessary: The company estimates that users spend only two minutes browsing for a title before choosing one or opting for another diversion entirely.

7. Netflix staffers also think you might be kind of a liar. 

You can stop trying to impress Netflix with the streaming version of keeping Ulysses on your coffee table. In a 2013 WIRED interview, Carlos Gomez-Uribe—the company's vice president of product innovation from 2010 to 2016—noted that viewers often report viewing documentaries or esoteric foreign movies. “But in practice,” he said, “that doesn’t happen very much.”

8. the first "netflix original" was an abstract test footage short.

In order to test frame rates and how their streaming service handles different kinds of content, Netflix produced 11 minutes of test footage in 2011 that can be viewed by typing “example show” in their search engine. Cut together (as seen above), the shorts become a very strange, very abstract art film, with an unidentified man juggling and reciting Shakespeare. (But not, sadly, juggling while reciting Shakespeare.)

9. Netflix binge-watching might correlate with depression. 

A 2015 study by the University of Texas found that respondents who claimed to binge Netflix shows were more likely to suffer from depression, lack of self-control, or loneliness. The good news? The sample group was small—only 316 people—and the university’s definition of “binge-watching” was as low as two episodes. Amateurs. 

10. There’s a secret Netflix menu.

Netflix website showing on screen laptop with macbook pro at cafe
wutwhanfoto/iStock Editorial via Getty Images Plus

No, not that kind of secret menu. Pressing Shift + Alt + a left mouse click brings up a troubleshooting menu that allows you to adjust the bit rate of a stream so it doesn’t buffer. (On a Mac, it's Shift + Option + click.) The picture quality won’t be as good, but it’s better than a pixelated Demogorgon.

11. There was once a glitch in the Netflix matrix. 

In 2014, Netflix’s content descriptions became odd amalgamations of two different titles to create one completely nonsensical listing. The summaries were quickly fixed, but not before someone took several screen shots of the mishaps.

12. You'll soon be able to stream Netflix in a Tesla.


Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

In July 2019, Tesla founder Elon Musk informed Tesla owners they would soon be able to stream both Netflix and YouTube in their cars, an attractive option for anyone looking to keep passengers occupied. But there's a catch: The services only work when the cars are parked. The feature will be available in newer-model cars at a date to be determined.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER