Superheroes have captured my attention for decades and I am almost positive that I am not the only one (insert Comic Con tickets here). In reality some of the super powers that we envy and crave so dearly might be more of a bummer than a blast here on earth. Indeed it is a bit of a buzz kill but take this musing under consideration and big thanks to Andrew Fitzgerald for his help.
Ask anyone what their superpower of choice is, and many will respond “flight.” Since the dawn of time, humans have looked to the skies in hopes of one day soaring among the birds. Sure, planes are a great way to travel, but what could beat lifting off using nothing but your own natural abilities?
In truth, flying isn’t as glamorous as it seems. To avoid birds, bugs, and other low-altitude pests (buildings, antennas, etc), you would need to fly a few thousand feet in the air. And for every thousand feet you go up, the temperature drops 1.65 degrees Celsius (3.0 degrees Fahrenheit). At 30,000 feet, you’re looking at an outside temperature of -23.8 degrees Celsius (-31 degrees Fahrenheit). You can bundle up to beat the cold, but make sure you have enough room for your oxygen mask; at 30,000 feet, the air is so thin that you’d pass out in seconds from oxygen deprivation.
Now that you’re safely flying with your parkas and oxygen tank, remember not to break the speed of sound. In doing so, the friction of the molecules in the atmosphere hitting your body will create incredibly high temperatures, incinerating you despite the frigid temperatures.
2. Super Strength
Anyone that could lift the Empire State Building of his or her head would be sure to gain a few fans. Heroic deeds like stopping runaway trains or catching falling planes would be a breeze! Anyone with a basic knowledge of physics can tell you that catching a falling plane will not result in a gentle landing. If you put your hands out to catch a massive jetliner that is plunging at hundreds of miles an hour, you will simply punch through the hull, likely killing anyone on the other side.
When anything you lift feels as light as a feather, you’re going to have a hard time controlling your strength. Bummer huh?
3. Laser Vision
Is there anything cooler than firing super-precise lasers from your eyes? Laser vision sounds awesome, but think about it in practical terms. How often in your life have you said, “Man, this sure would be easier if my eyes were capable of melting steel”?
Imagine being able to witness the entire rise of human civilization firsthand. From this day forward, nothing can harm or kill you. You’ll live forever and see how far our species progresses. You can live your life as you choose, knowing you will never die.
Think about that for a second; you’ll never die. You’ll see the rise of humanity, but you’ll also see the terrifying and undoubtedly violent fall of it. OH MY!… NEXT
5. Weather Control
Every child has fantasized about an unexpected snow day so they won’t have school. With the ability to control weather, every day could be a snow day—or a sunny day for that matter. The part we don’t see in the comic books is the aftereffects of those unusual weather changes. Your selfish desire for a particular type of weather would have serious repercussions.
6. Mind Reading
Many people believe their life would be far easier with the ability to read minds. Unfortunately, not everything you hear will be good news. Your boss may be mentally counting the minutes until he fires you. In addition, if you couldn’t filter individual thoughts out, the constant influx of minds would be utterly overwhelming, inducing the worst headaches known to man.
7. Superhuman Speed
This power has many of the same disadvantages as flight. When you break the sound barrier, the friction of your body hitting the air molecules will produce incredible heat and burn you alive. Fortunately for speed enthusiasts, as long as you don’t go over Mach 1, this won’t happen.
Don’t get too excited though! Running incredibly fast would be useful—if America were an open field. At high speeds, you may have superhuman reflexes, but now your mind’s reaction speed is going to hold you back. You won’t be capable of responding to a sudden obstacle in your path. Straightaways will work just fine, but don’t run anywhere with obstructions. A sudden car, tree, or cute puppy is a formula for disaster.
8 Time Travel
Time travel has its advantages. The butterfly effect maintains that going back in time and changing anything, even the flight path of a single insect, could have a disastrous effect on history. In the end, you’ll find yourself constantly going back in time to try to fix your mistakes and will never find perfection. That sounds exhausting even for a superhero
With teleportation, you have the convenience of flight without the risk of spontaneous combustion a a result of friction, freezing due to cold temperatures, or suffocating due to lack of air. Teleportation is the way to travel, right? Wrong.
The instantaneous nature of teleportation is what makes it so dangerous. In many sci-fi realms, teleportation involves two stationary hubs through which characters travel. They always arrive in the same location. Teleportation from human powers would allow you to arrive anywhere in the world, regardless of any object (or human) standing there. What would happen upon your arrival? It’s unclear, although certainly possible that you and the unfortunate person standing in your landing zone would become intertwined in some sort of twisted, multi-limbed being. Epic fail!
10. X-ray Vision
X-ray vision may be a bit more practical than laser vision—if you’re applying for a job with the TSA. The childhood fantasy of seeing through other people’s clothes is far from the truth. You’d be able to diagnose broken bones and other ailments, but you’ll be giving your “patients” a “healthy” dose of radiation. Over time, those you look at frequently will begin showing signs of radiation sickness and likely cancer. NOT IN THE PLAN !
Not sure if this should be common knowledge or my civic duty and in truth the truth is never as much fun as a bit of daydreaming so continue to imagine soaring through the clouds, through time and space and don’t forget to “Save the cheerleader to save the world…”