8 People With "Real" Superpowers

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.

The Body
13 Facts About Skin

Skin isn't just the outermost layer of our bodies. Without it, we couldn't do most of the things we take for granted, like breathing, moving, and keeping the body's inner workings where they belong. And while skin also evolved to keep pathogens and other bad stuff out of our bodies, consumers spend millions of dollars on products to penetrate that defense (with mixed results). Read on for more fascinating facts about the skin.


Skin is considered an organ in its own right. It's comprised of three layers: the waterproof top layer, the epidermis; a middle layer of tougher connective tissue, hair follicles, and glands called the dermis; and the inner layer, the hypodermis, which is mostly fat and connective tissue that supports the skin's structure and attaches it to muscles.


Those cells are known as melanocytes, which secrete a pigmented substance called melanin; the more melanin in the cells, the darker the skin. Having too little or too much melanin can lead to some skin color disorders: On one end of the spectrum are conditions like vitiligo—which occurs when some melanocytes lose the ability to produce melanin, resulting in whitish patches on the skin—and albinism, a condition in which melanocytes don't produce any melanin. On the other end is hyperpigmentation—the presence of excess melanin, which can cause darker patches of skin.


"Your skin accounts for 15 percent of your body weight," says Toral Patel, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and supervising physician at D&A Dermatology in Chicago and a clinical instructor of medicine at Northwestern University. This makes it your body's largest organ.

According to that calculation and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average American woman weighs 168.5 pounds and carries more than 25 pounds of skin. An average man weighing 195.7 pounds will have nearly 30 pounds of skin.


New cells are created in that deep layer of the skin and take about four weeks to rise to the surface. There, they grow hard and then shed. This process, in which old skin is sloughed off and replaced by newer skin, might occur more than 1000 times over the average American's lifespan. But all skin is not created equal: Its thickness varies naturally among all areas of the body. Thickness can also be affected by age, gender, and habits (like smoking) that can change the cells' elasticity and other traits. According to Patel, the skin on the soles of your feet is up to seven times thicker than the skin of your eyelids.


If your skin cells shed every month, how do tattoos stick around? It turns out to be a function of your immune system. The puncture of the tattoo needle causes inflammation in the dermis, the skin's middle layer. In response, white blood cells known as macrophages are sent in to help heal the damage. These macrophages "eat" the dye and can pass it to newer macrophages when they die off, so the pigment is essentially transferred from one cell to another. Any leftover pigment is soaked up by fibroblasts, which are longer-lasting skin cells that don't regenerate as often. Only lasers designed for tattoo removal are strong enough to kill off the macrophages and fibroblasts that hold the dye.


Your skin hosts a microbiome that can contain more than 1000 types of bacteria (along with other microbes, viruses, and pathogens). These "tiny ecosystems," as Patel describes them, are mostly friendly bacteria that work in concert with our bodies for many beneficial purposes, including wound healing, reducing skin inflammation, and assisting the immune system to help fight infection. These bacteria were once thought to outnumber your own cells 10 to one, but more recent research has found the ratio is closer to 1:1.


Injuring or breaking the skin's dermis, the layer below the epidermis, can expose the inner tissues to pathogens. To prevent infections from reaching any further into the skin, body fat, or muscle, ancient Egyptians cared for topical wounds with salt (yes, really!), fresh meat, moldy bread, and onions.

While these may seem like unsanitary things to put on a cut, modern research has found that there was actually merit in their methods. With its high iron content, meat was a good blood coagulant and recommended for the first day of a wound, according to a 2016 paper in the Journal of the German Society of Dermatology. Salt and onions are both astringent, which can stop blood flow. Moldy bread likely had antibacterial properties—a very early form of penicillin, you might say. Skin wounds would then be sealed with a combination of oils, fats, honey, and plant fibers.


Your skin is a significant shield against billions of tiny microbes and pathogens. But just as importantly, skin keeps fluids in. Another way to think of this, Patel says, is that your skin resembles a brick and mortar pattern. The bricks are the cells. The mortar is made up of lipids, fatty acids, and other sticky proteins that form the watertight layer. "If you have any ‘holes' in skin where moisture can escape, which are more susceptible to damage, that leads to dryness, cracking, and inflammation," Patel says.

People who have suffered burns often have fluid-balance problems, says Robert T. Brodell, M.D., professor of dermatology at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. "Fluids are seeping out, and they can't keep them balanced internally," he tells Mental Floss. This can be incredibly dangerous, because fluid loss can cause the heart to stop pumping blood to the rest of the body. Dehydration, hypertension, and other problems may also occur when skin is injured.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition in which the skin cells in an affected area grow rapidly, leading to excess skin buildup, inflammation, and a red and scaly rash. While it can be uncomfortable to live with the condition on its own, studies [PDF] have shown that inflammation of the skin can lead to inflammation of other tissues and internal organs, and eventually certain diseases. For example, psoriasis has been linked to a greater risk for heart disease, as well as diabetes, Crohn's disease, metabolic syndrome, and other conditions thought to be correlated with inflammation.

Patel says that association makes treatment even more important: "If one organ is inflamed, you have to make sure another isn't."


Unless you live in the tropics, you've probably noticed that the skin of your lower legs becomes drier in winter—and there's a biological reason for that. "You have fewer oil glands on your legs than any other area of your body," Brodell tells Mental Floss. Oil (or sebaceous) glands, found near the dermis's border with the epidermis, secrete an oily substance called sebum that lubricates skin and hair. As people age, the glands secrete less oil, and that means drier skin. Winter's low humidity and our tendency to spend more time around heat sources dries out skin even more.

The solution is to install a humidifier or apply some moisturizer. Certain skincare products, such as those with emulsifiers like sodium laureth sulfate, can also dry out or irritate your skin, so read your labels carefully.


Both types of sweat glands are also located in the dermis. Eccrine glands, found all over the body, emit sweat directly through pores in the epidermis. Apocrine glands release sweat along hair follicles, so it's no surprise that these glands are concentrated in the hairiest parts of the body—head, armpit, and groin. Both types help regulate body temperature: In hot conditions, the glands release water and fatty liquids to cool the skin.

A lack of sweat glands puts people in danger of overheating. Those with a condition known as anhidrotic ectodermal dysplasia have few to no sweat glands, so they can't properly cool off when the body overheats. "They get heatstroke easily," Brodell says. A subset of people with this disorder suffer from immunodeficiency. They produce low levels of antibodies and infection-fighting immune T- and B-cells, so they are more prone to skin and lung infections.


The gut and the skin never come into direct contact with one another, yet research shows that the gut has a profound impact on the skin.

"The skin becomes very unhealthy when the microbiome of the gut goes into a state of dysbiosis," meaning when something attacks the gut's good bacteria, says Gregory Maguire, Ph.D., a former professor of neuroscience at UC San Diego and the founder and chief scientific officer of BioRegenerative Sciences, a stem-cell technology company.

Dysbiosis can lead to inflammation, irritation, rashes, and pain. "There's good evidence that eczema [or] atopic dermatitis is partially due to dysbiosis of the gut and skin," he says.

In a 2017 paper published in the Archives of Dermatological Research, Maguire writes that normal gut bacteria can actually calm the body's response to stress. A reduction in the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which is thought to cause breakouts, also reduces the chance of skin irritation—all thanks to microbes in your intestine.


When the skin's pores get clogged with sebum from the sebaceous glands and dead cells, a condition usually associated with hormonal changes, you've got acne. Clogged pores that stay closed are called whiteheads; if the pore opens and reveals the gunk inside, it's a blackhead. (The medical term for a blackhead, an "open comedo," stems from a Latin phrase alluding to "worms which devour the body." But don't worry, blackheads are not actual worms living in your face.)

While acne may seem like a rite of passage associated with puberty, researchers are experimenting with fighting "bad" bacteria (in this case, Propiobacterium acnes, which is linked to acne breakouts) with "good" bacteria, also known as probiotics. "One of the things [probiotics] do is ferment things on the skin like ammonia and nitrites, and metabolize it and turn it into other chemicals that are beneficial to the stem cells in your skin," Maguire explains. A 2015 study in the Journal of Women's Dermatology and other research has found that applying topical probiotics like Streptococcus salivarius and Streptococcus thermophiles inhibits P. acnes and may make skin more resilient against it in the long run.

This 'Super EKG' Could Diagnose Heart Disease in 90 Seconds

For many adults, moderate or severe chest pain can have some very sinister connotations. Fearing it's a sign of an imminent cardiac event like a heart attack, sufferers head to the emergency room for a diagnosis. In most cases, the chest pain is not life-threatening, but that's determined only after a series of expensive and time-consuming tests like an EKG, treadmill test, and blood work.

That may soon change, thanks to an enterprising 22-year-old college dropout. Peeyush Shrivastava and his biotech company Genetesis have engineered a body-sized 3D scanner called Faraday that creates a digital composite of the heart. The device looks at the magnetic fields surrounding the organ during normal cardiac activity, a process known as magnetocardiography. Shrivastava says the software, using various algorithms, can determine whether a person is having a cardiac event.

Genetesis says that after a patient submits to the scan—which is noninvasive, has no radiation, and takes roughly 90 seconds—technicians can examine the 3D rendering and be alerted to problems relating to lack of blood flow or coronary artery disease. By the time the results are evaluated, a patient could be discharged within four hours, eliminating the need for an overnight stay.

Chest pain is a leading cause of brief emergency room visits for adults over 45, with only 6 percent of the 8 million visits annually resulting in a diagnosis of heart attack. Reducing the time it takes to process these patients would reduce health care spending, ease patient anxiety, and provide more rapid intervention in the case of a cardiac event.

Genetesis is currently conducting trials of the technology at St. John's Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit. Once that's completed, the company will likely pursue a larger study with the eventual goal of FDA approval. It could be years before the device is in regular use, but if Genetesis's projections are accurate, it will be well worth the wait.

[h/t CNN]


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