Do Superhumans Exist?

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Superheroes have been a cultural phenomenon for nearly 100 years, and with the success of Marvel and DC movies, we as a society have become obsessed with the idea of having superpowers. But how realistic is the idea of superhumans in today’s age of advanced science and technology?

In X-Men, the idea of “Mutants” is made possible due to these superhumans shaving the X-Gene, which makes their unique DNA develop special abilities like mind control, super strength, and a variety of neat powers. While this is science-fiction, there is some truth in utilizing DNA to allow for exceptional human beings.

A tool known as CRISPR is used in biomedical circles, allowing scientists to edit the DNA of any organism giving them the ability in modify any region of a genome with precision and accuracy without harming any other genes. Thanks to this fascinating tool, we soon may be able to insert “superpower” genes into human DNA, giving way to a real-life superhuman. While we probably won’t be shooting fire from our fingertips or becoming invisible, it is highly probable we will be able to boost human intelligence, become immune to disease,  be impervious to hot/cold weather, and any number of other superhuman qualities. There are still many obstacles in the way until we reach a future filled with superhumans. With many ethical, societal, and financial issues still needing to be resolved, there are other means of achieving superhuman status currently.

But what about real-life superhumans now? There are a number of extraordinary humans out there with incredible abilities. Take for example Marilu Henner, a woman who has hyperthymesia, a condition that allows her to remember every single detail of her life. If asked a specific date, she can recall exactly what she did that day, backed up with any pertinent happenings that took place around the world.

Eero Mantyranta, another person with superhuman capabilities, was able to display exemplary endurance, making him one of the best Olympic skiing champions of all time. Mantyranta had a special condition resulting from a mutation in a receptor gene that gave him the ability to carry 50 % more oxygen in his bloodstream, an exceptional ability for endurance competition. This trait allowed him to have considerably stronger endurance than any of his competitors, making him a world champion.

Both of these incredible people are living examples of what the human body is capable of, and gives us an idea of what a superhuman could be with the intervention of advanced DNA altering technology. We most likely will never live in a world roaming with individuals similar to your favorite Marvel movie, but we are in store for a time where we will have mastered our biology, allowing for fantastic abilities.  

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