The 5 ways to make yourself superhuman
3. Superhuman health
Even with the strength of the Hulk, without good health we’d be as weak as Mr Bean. Advancements in medical technology have seen the rise of nanorobotics to help counteract and defeat disease in the body while also repairing any damaged tissue. With the ability to manipulate human cells at an atomic level, nanobots could be deployed to perform surgeries or sniff out infection – monitoring and keeping us in tip-top condition from the inside. Cancer is being targeted by nanobots; unlike chemotherapy, they can destroy cancerous cells without damaging the surrounding tissue.
DARPA is working on its In Vivo Nanoplatform (IVN), which is looking to use nanobots to heal wounded soldiers. In the long-term, this means nanorobotics may play a huge role in preventing our bodies decaying with age, making us immune to illness and extending life expectancy in the process. Sadly, nanobots aren’t available to buy over the counter in Boots just yet, but success in clinical trials provides hope that the tech will find itself into the mainstream soon.
4. Superhuman speed
Image by Charles Smith
The reason humans aren’t running around with Ostrich-like speed is because our leg muscles don’t produce enough explosive force. To do this we’d have to redesign our leg muscles – again, we look to the military with DARPA’s Warrior Web exoskeleton. This powered brace uses motors and springs that can provide additional force to leg extensions. The developers claim that it can provide enough of an enhancement for average joes to run a four-minute mile. The current record for a mile run is 3 minutes 43 seconds.
A more attainable method of super speed can be found by strapping on a pair of Bionic Boots. These aluminium and carbon-fibre leg attachments allow us flat-footed (plantigrade) humans to run in a digitigrade fashion (on their toes) as animals do. As well as lengthening stride, which increases speed, springs at the rear mimic kangaroo tendons to thrust the wearer forward. As each foot lands there’s a buildup of energy in the springs and is expelled as force. Their creator, Keahi Seymour, claims the boots can propel wearers to speeds of up to 25mph.
Remember that red-faced bus run? Think again.
Robert Freitas, a leading figure in the world of nanomedicine, has designed a nano-sized artificial red blood cell called a respirocyte that can store 256 times the amount of oxygen of a normal red blood cell. An injection of these would enable humans to run at full speed for 15 minutes or remain underwater for four hours on a single breath.
5. Superhuman intelligence
Brain-boosting implants and neural prosthetics might lead to computer-like learning, heightened memory and sharper senses.This sci-fi dream, however, has been held back by the sheer size of technology and type of materials scientists have to work with. New breakthroughs in the form of wonder material graphene mean implants can be as thin as atoms and, being pure carbon, are organic so won’t be rejected by the body.
At the moment, crude implants are being used to stimulate the brain to treat the effects of Parkinson’s disease. They’re also being used to counteract epilepsy and, to some extent, depression. The goal of graphene implants is being looked at by the military to pre-empt and treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The ability to even allow soldiers brain-to-brain communication is a potential possibility.
But for super-brain power, the University of Michigan has given forgetful folk and pub-quiz lovers a glimmer of hope with an implantable hard drive that could store reams of data. The concept takes the form of a “liquid computer” that uses a radical new way to store information using nano particles suspended in a solution. It’s claimed a teaspoon of these nanoparticles could store a terabyte of data.
While hopes of uploading a new language or mastering kung fu at the tap of a button is decades off, being able to unlock our brain power to telekinetically control simple actions is not.
If you want to feel like you’re using the force from Star Wars today, Neurosky – a company that specialises in making biosensors for the mind – has created a headset that can pick up brain signals and translate them into controlling apps, toys and devices. Although its uses are fairly trivial at the moment, future breakthroughs could see us using solely our minds to control, create, play and communicate on a Professor Xavier level.
And a bonus one… Superhuman invisibility
The power to disappear like Potter or the Predator is sitting in a lab being fine tuned by people in white coats. Invisibility technology using metamaterials, which work by bending light around the subject, have been a work-in-progress for many years.
Most recently, HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp showed off jaw-dropping imagery of its Quantum Stealth “blanket”, which managed to blend into surroundings. Its CEO, Guy Cramer, explains he cannot reveal how the technology works for security reasons, but it does so without LEDs, lights or cameras, and can’t be detected by infrared cameras or thermal imaging.
The race to invisibility sees the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany also competing with its invisibility cloak. The size of a shoebox it can hide keys, phones and other small objects using the principles of light-bending. A light-scattering coating is used to slow down the speed of surrounding light and then is sped up around the object, concealing it.
Although none of these fancy fabrics will be hitting stores anytime soon, the University of Rochester in New York has devised a method that anyone can use to cloak objects at home at a low cost. It involves using four lenses with different focal lengths to pass light around an object, with which they’ve had success turning a hand, face and ruler invisible. The smart chaps at the university have even supplied DIY equations on how you can achieve it. The technology, while relatively rudimentary, can be scaled up to hide larger objects – possibly even a whole person on the move if the lenses can be made mobile.
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