The world of comics and movies is full of superheroes and characters with abilities that transcend what is possible for the typical person. We enjoy these stories because we can escape our reality and imagine what it would be like to have amazing powers of our own. Yet, a gifted few in this world don’t have to imagine because like the superheroes in comics and movies, they too have extraordinary powers beyond normal humans.
Here we will look at a selection of real world people with remarkable powers and abilities that surpass those of us mere mortals.
Not long after Liam Hoekstra was born, his parents noticed that there was something different abut the boy. At just two days old, Liam was already able to stand with assistance, and by 8 months old he was doing pull-ups and walking up and down stairs. By 3 years old, Liam was lifting up pieces of furniture around the house that some adults would even find difficult, as well as other amazing displays of power. Once during a tantrum as a toddler, Liam's mother recalls him punching clear through a plaster wall. This power also gave little Liam surprising speed and agility that stunned those around him.
In addition to these early feats of strength, Liam displayed almost no body fat and was rippling with far more muscle than was normal for even active adults, let alone a toddler. His concerned parents had him examined and doctors soon learned that the cause of the boy's super strength and muscularity was a rare genetic condition known as myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy.
The condition was first observed in humans in a German baby born in 2000 with already well developed muscles, and who at 4 years old was considered to be 6 times stronger than a normal child of his age. Myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy causes an abnormally low level of a protein known as myostatin, which is mainly responsible for limiting muscle growth in both humans and animals. When the body's production of myostatin is inhibited, the body is able to produce muscle unfettered.
Individuals with myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy display incredible amounts of raw power and are believed to be able to gain up to 50 percent more skeletal muscle mass than a normal person, with little or no exercise required. Originally found in cattle and mice in the late 1990s, it is extremely rare in humans, with only 100 known cases.
Liam's unique genetics could be the key to unlocking cures for degenerative diseases of the muscle, such as muscular dystrophy. It also has been the center of attention for body builders and athletes, who see it as the holy grail of gaining powerful, fat free muscle in a short amount of time.
Luckily for Liam, the condition is not thought to cause any negative health problems, although the boy has to eat prodigious amounts of food and protein to satiate his body's enhanced metabolism.
In 1994, an unidentified man only known as John was involved in a serious car accident, yet emerged relatively unscathed except for some bumps and bruises. When the man went to see a doctor to make sure he had no internal bleeding, x-rays showed that he was fine and had not suffered any broken bones whatsoever. In addition, doctors made the remarkable find that not only had the man not broken any bones, but also that his bones were of an abnormal density, 8 times denser than those of a normal person.
He wasn't the only one either. In another case, a man needed hip replacement surgery, but was unable to undergo the procedure as no doctor had been able to find a way to screw the hip replacement prosthetics into place. The man had tried on numerous occasions to find a hospital able to perform the surgery, but to the amazement of doctors no one could find a way to get the screws past his dense bones in a practical way.
Eventually, these and similar cases that came to light were connected, and research came to the conclusion that besides insanely powerful bone structures, these people also shared the same lineage. All of them were somehow related to each other.
The find was considered a medical miracle, and doctors raced to find the cause of this family's uniquely indestructible bones. After DNA analysis was done, it was found that the condition was likely linked to a mutation in a gene responsible for osteoporosis and low bone density.
Dean Karnazes is not your usual long distance runner. The prolific marathon runner has performed several inhuman feats of running during his career, the most well-known perhaps being when he ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days without taking any time off to rest. In another instance, the runner ran for 3 days straight without stopping or sleeping, eventually covering 350 miles, and he has also completed a 1,000 mile marathon from San Francisco to New York in just 75 days.
This seemingly superhuman ability to run constantly without tiring eventually caught the attention of scientists who were curious as to how he managed to do it. A medical study was performed on him that came up with surprising results.
It was found that Dean had a unique physiology that allowed him to exhibit such astonishing feats of endurance. It was found that his muscles had the unusual ability to work far longer than an average person's while simultaneously accruing less damage from the work load. The study also found that he has more blood in his circulatory system than the average person, allowing his muscles to stay hydrated longer and also delivering more oxygen.
It was concluded that with such unique physiological gifts, Dean could theoretically run at a continuous 7 to 10 minute-mile pace indefinitely as long as he kept himself hydrated and fed.
Dean is not alone in his powers. Finnish skiing sensation Eero Mantyranta was found to possess a very rare defect in his erythropoietin receptor, which resulted in his blood having the ability to hold 50% more oxygen than that of a typical human being, allowing him to ski faster for longer.
Isao Machii is a Japanese swordsman who possesses reflexes far exceeding what a normal person is capable of. He is rather well-known in Japan for his displays of freakishly fast reflexes, such as cutting in half arrows or Airsoft pellets in midair with a katana sword. He also holds the record for the fastest tennis ball cut in midair, which was going roughly 440 mph.
Airsoft pellets travel at roughly 160 feet per second, which in addition to the tennis ball, is faster than the human eye can even register, so how does he do it? Basically what is happening is that he is somehow anticipating where the projectile will end up before it has even begun its trajectory, allowing him to intercept it.
This is something that all human beings can do to a some degree, and professional athletes such as baseball players can track and predict the paths of balls going up to 90mph, yet Machii seems to be taking this innate anticipatory ability to a whole new level. When most people track and predict the trajectory of fast moving objects, we still use our eyesight to some extent, but Isao seems to be doing so without having to see the object at all. He is actually able to instinctively and decisively intercept objects moving too fast to even be seen by the human eye.
Experts who have seen Machii in action have speculated on how he could be pulling this off. It seems to be something more than just hard practice or constant training. Machii seems to be exhibiting a different sensory perception of spatial dimensions than other people. He is not processing the trajectory of the object in a normal, visual way, but rather using some as yet unknown sensory system, perhaps because his brain is wired differently in some way.
In short, it could be said that Machii just has sort of a mysterious sixth sense about where a fast moving object will be at a given moment.
A Serbian man by the name of Slavisa Pajkic allegedly has an array of electrical based abilities, and claims to be able to act as an insulator, conductor, accumulator, and a heater.
Pajkic seems to be impervious to electrical shock, and holds a Guiness World Record for allowing 20,000 volts to pass through him without any physical harm. The man claims he doesn't feel a thing. He also has exhibited other electrical based abilities, such as powering lightbulbs with his hands, cooking a sausage on forks using electrical heat from his body, heating a cup of water to 97 degrees celsius in under 2 minutes, and lighting a fuel soaked swab using nothing but an electrical discharge from his head.
The man claims that he first learned of his powers when he was 17. He was with a friend of his and they leaned against a fence that happened to be an electric fence, whereupon the friend recoiled in pain and Pajkic felt nothing. He claims his next goal is to attempt to let a million volts pass through his body, although in recent years many skeptics have claimed he is a fraud.
He is not alone in his purported electrical abilities. In addition to Pajkic, we have the curious case of Ma Xiangang, of China. Xiangang has the remarkable ability to touch high voltage objects and absorb hundreds of volts with no pain at all. He even claims that such shocks invigorate him.
Xiangang claims he discovered his powers one day when his TV wasn't working and went to fix it. His hand accidentally brushed against a live wire but he found that the current, which should have sent him reeling, had no effect on him. He continued to touch other live wires and got the same result every time.
Tests done on Xiangang have found that due to a unique body chemistry and physiology, he has 7 times the electrical resistance of a normal human.
A man only known as Solvin is a spear fisherman who has lived most of his life at sea aboard a houseboat with the rest of his family and rarely comes to shore. He spends his days spear fishing and living a simple life on the water.
His aquatic lifestyle has apparently caused him to adapt to his environment in surprising ways. His vision is said to be twice as clear underwater as a normal person's, giving him crystal clear vision when swimming. This is thought to be due to his eyes adapting to constrict the irises underwater rather than expand them like a typical person. He is also said to be able to be more resistant to crushing pressure at a depth of 20 meters, where he hunts for fish to feed his family. In addition, he can hold his breath for around 5 minutes.
5 minutes may be a long time, but it's nothing compared to Solvin's fellow aquaman, Danish freediver Stig Severinsen. The diver's first major accomplishment happened in 2010, when he jumped into a tank and broke the record for holding one's breath voluntarily with an absurd 20 minutes and 10 seconds. 2 years later, he surpassed even that time, when he held his breath for a staggering 22 minutes.
In order to achieve this, Stig underwent a procedure called pre-oxygenated static apnea, in which he inhaled pure oxygen in order to eliminate nitrogen and carbon dioxide from his system and saturate his body with oxygen. The pool he used was also kept at a frigid temperature in order to lower his heart rate, reducing his oxygen consumption. Stig also utilized specialized breathing patterns and claims to have the ability to detach himself from physical discomfort. His own brother, who is a medic, monitored his vital signs throughout the entire stunt.
In addition to inhaling oxygen, using cold water, to which Stig also displays an amazing resistance to, exercising extreme mental willpower, and doing special breathing exercises, perhaps Stig's most important ally in his extreme feats is his own body. Stig has been found to have lungs that have a capacity of 14 liters, twice that of the average person.
Ben Underwood was diagnosed with retinal cancer at the age of 2, which necessitated the surgical removal of both eyes. As he grew up, he discovered a rather amazing ability. He found at the age of 5 that he was able to click his tongue and gather information on his surroundings based on the echo he heard, similar to the way dolphins use echolocation. In this way, he was able to assimilate a rough picture of his surroundings in his head.
At first, Ben was only able to discern basic information in this manner, such as the location of walls or large objects, but over the years he gradually honed his skills to quite frankly superhuman levels.
By his teens, Ben was able to get around just as well as anyone with sight. He had an uncanny ability to reach out to pick up whatever he wanted and could even accurately discern the shape of objects without touching them. With his unique ability, Ben could also do other activities such as climb trees, ride a bike, go skating, and even do martial arts, all with a competence comparable to someone with full sight.
Sadly, Ben died in 2009 at the age of 16. He remains the only known person to have used echolocation to "see."
Tim Cridland, also known by his stage name of Zamora the Torture King, is an entertainer specializing in all manner of dangerous stunts involving extreme pain, such as sword swallowing, fire walking, body piercing, and electrocuting himself.
Tim is known to lay on beds of nails with audience members jumping on him, and once laid on a bed of nails with a toyota planted on top of him. The acts he performs in his shows are the kinds of things most people cringe at when they see, yet Tim claims he doesn't feel a thing.
Scientists decided to research Tim's seeming immunity to pain. They found that Tim's nerve cells don't register pain in the same way that a typical persons' does. Although he maintains full sensation and can feel things such as temperature variations between hot and cold, pain just doesn't instill a particularly unpleasant reaction in him. This is thought to be caused by a malfunction in the pain receptor cells of the brain, the ones that usually tell you to pull your hand away from a hot stove or reel from a stubbed toe.
Although this might seem like a cool ability to have, doctors say that such conditions are dangerous, as pain is your body's way of saying you need to stop doing something or to tell you something is wrong. An inability to feel pain can lead to major injuries or exacerbate existing ones.
A group of Tibetan monks has trained and cultivated their mental and physical abilities to the point that they are able to display amazing powers. One of their abilities is to raise the temperature of their skin by 8 degrees Celsius while their core temperature remains the same. They are also known to be able to withstand extreme cold that would incapacitate a normal person.
In the 1970s, the abilities of these monks were brought to light in the West, and a study was undertaken on them. One test involved having the monks sleep out on a mountain at an altitude of 15,000 feet wearing only their monk garments and no special cold weather gear. Temperatures reached a numbing -17 degrees celsius, enough for an average person to freeze to death, yet the monks were not only fine, but showed no signs of discomfort.
It is thought that they are able to perform such feats through somehow slowing blood flow to the brain and constricting blood vessels, which in turn allows them to endure these harsh conditions.
It seems clear from these sorts of cases that truly unique super humans walk among us. These remarkable individuals remind us of the mysteries of the human body and mind, giving us a peak at the potential that lies within our kind. On top of just amazing us, they may also hold the key to someday understanding the mysterious nature of how our bodies work, give us the key to curing our illnesses, and pave the way to improving and augmenting ourselves in numerous ways.
The next time you watch a superhero movie or read a comic book, remember that in some cases, what you are seeing is not always so removed from reality.