Thursday, July 7, 2011

Are you who you think you are?

There's a new show premiering soon called Alphas. I haven't paid enough attention to know if this is a series or a reality program, but it's in the back of my mind. So when I came across Stan Lee's (creator of Fantastic Four and Spiderman etc) Superhumans on Netflix, I was curious. We've all seen or heard about the show Heroes. It's like that. It even has the same premise that evolution has not stalled out, but continues to evolve us through small mutations. Some of those mutations are more noticeable than others.

As one scientist in the Stan Lee series said, every human averages about three mutations but they aren't all consequential. Say you were supposed to be born with brown eyes, but they're blue instead. That's a mutation but you'd never know it (paraphrased) because who cares.

What captivated me most was that many of the huge mutations are things that would never be discovered if it weren't for the life the individuals currently lead. For example, the guy who can deep sea dive well over six minutes without a tank, does it competitively. The fact that his body is genetically altered to actually accept the crushing weight of force that would make his lungs the size of an orange without any adverse affects, the fact that when he gets to four minutes of breath holding his body does the impossible, it functions anaerobically, is otherwise humanly impossible. Basically, when the oxygen level in his blood drops to about 80, which is dangerous for mere mortals, his body STOPS USING OXYGEN and holds steady.

There's another guy who is a wrestler. He uses his head for the knockout punches. It's part of his livelihood. He breaks concrete blocks and hammers nails with his forehead, all without concussing. This is also humanly impossible. But he discovered his ability when he chased his brother through the house, tripped and hit a solid oak door. He busted the door off its hinges without a single moment of stun. On a brain scan, there were no internal injuries, but his skull is more than twice as thick as a normal person's. Mutation!

Another guy was a child when his mother died. He was so depressed that he decided to commit suicide by climbing a power tower and holding on to the electrodes. Nothing happened, not even a tingle. And that's how he discovered that his body is wired differently. He CONDUCTS electricity and his body reroutes the energy away from his heart and brain. When the current in his body is over three times the strength to kill a normal man, he goes blind as his body reroutes the power. His sight returns once the current stops.

These were all tested and proven. There were tons of things like this. The guy that can withstand twelve G-forces (1 G being Earth's gravity, and 6 forces being where most fighter pilots pass out), is a stunt pilot for airshows.

Do you see the pattern? Is it chance that brings these people into their professions because of their mutations? Is there some kind of body awareness going on that bring these people to know that this is the profession they need to be in? Almost all of them said, in one form or another, that when they were doing the thing that made them amazing, it just felt "right".

If it feels "right" to do what they seem adapted to do, then what happens to the rest of us with our average of three mutations that aren't noticeable? Are they effecting the decisions we make? Is it free will or kismet directing us to make the choices we make? Do writers write because there's a mutation in them that help them "see" a story and explain it to others? Do readers read because there's a mutation that makes them crave something in the process of story telling?

There's a guy who loves math and his mutation is that his math center isn't where the normal human math center is, but instead was formed in the middle of his small motor skill center. He's the human calculator, calculating numbers the way your body calculates small variations in movement. There's a musical genius who remembers everything he hears the first time around. There's a world champion memory competitor who can remember everyone's name because his memory accesses the visual part of his temporal lobe and it takes a picture of the person. He says he then "files" the face and name together in a mental filing cabinet. He has total recall. Again, they are driven to do the thing they're good at BEFORE they were ever tested to know that they were different.

Did you know that there's a mutation in a percentage of humans that make the taste buds detect "soap" when they eat cilantro? That's why not everyone likes it. Some people taste the tangy green, some people taste soap. Obviously, those who taste soap don't like it and don't eat it. THEY didn't know they were genetically mutated. They just don't gravitate to things that they find unpleasant.

So what about your choices? What about where you live, the climate, the location? What about the subjects you find intolerable? What about your profession? Are any of them dictated by your mutations? And if they aren't things that are readily testable, how will we ever know?

It's food for thought. Pass the cilantro.



Phuong said...

Well, that explains why my friend always insists some of the green herbs taste like "soap". I always thought her taste bud was crazy. Guess I was wrong...LOL

Katalina Leon said...

Wonderful post Mia, I love this show! It's odd but it really opens the door on what might be possible.
I love cilantro, I'm so glad I'm not one of the people that tastes "soap".

Mia Watts said...

@Phuong, I have a friend who can detect cilantro in anything for the same reason. It's a shame, really. I love that stuff!

Mia Watts said...

@Katalina, It's pretty fabulous. :) It opens up a lot of discussion, doesn't it? I mean, do we like the things we like because we developed an opinion, or is it because we were programmed to genetically like them? Are we called to do/be something because of our genetic code or because of a learned behavior?

I mean, maybe I can withstand pressures of deep sea free diving but I don't dive without a tank, so I'll never know. But then again, if I could do that, wouldn't my body crave it?

It's just interesting to see how things happen and why.

Bronwyn Green said...

Hey! Cilantro tastes like soap to me - I thought other people just had questionable taste. :)

Does this mean I'm genetically preprogrammed to pick up pretty rocks and stray cats? Although...I have no idea how that would help the evolutionary process. ;)

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Never seen the show, but perhaps this is why you are Super Writer!

Mia Watts said...

@Bron, Cilantro tastes awesome if you don't think it's soapy. I'm sorry you can't enjoy it. :(

And maybe! The rocks and cats might be genetic, but I was actually thinking of super powers and I'm pretty sure that doesn't qualify. LOL.

Mia Watts said...

@Julia, hey hon!

I'd love to claim super writer status. LOL! I don't think Nora Roberts would appreciate that though. That woman puts out books like no one's business.

Molly Daniels said...

I'll have to try cilantro...right now everyone thinks I'm crazy b/c everything I make in one of out pitchers tastes soapy to me, and perfectly fine to them.

That's my child, the human calculator!

And yes, when I was younger, everyone thought I was adopted, b/c I had the blue eyes and blonde hair. Everyone else had brown hair and eyes.

Mia Watts said...

@Molly, see? You've evolved! Which doesn't sound nice put that way, but you know what I mean. :) Maybe you have very sensitive taste buds.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing what and how the human body works. I can't do math or percentage out a tip at a restaurant to save my life, so I ask my 8 yr old to it for me. Lol! But hey! let me look at your face and I can tell you what color make-up, hair color and hairstyle that will make your face look symmetrical and at it's most beautiful!! That's as impressive as I get. ;0). Nothing like the people you described, but I guess every individual's talent is what makes the world go 'round! :0)))


Mia Watts said...

Elece, I need your particular talents, hon. :)

Tess MacKall said...

I don't like cilantro but to me it doesn't taste like soap either. lol Interesting theory. What makes us different could be a mutation. What makes us different defines us.

Great post!