Real-World SuperPowers

What is the closest thing we have to comic book style superpowers in the real world? In a recent article by neurologist Oliver Sacks, he mentions that occasionally people with parkinsons or touretts exhibit greatly enhanced reflexes, and seem speeded up compared to normal people. This got me thinking. There was the child in Germany with a defect that led to enhanced muscles; I know that a rare side-effect of syphylis is enhanced intelligence. On the other hand, these “powers” seem to be relatively minor, and come with major drawbacks.
Technologically, there have been periods when an individual has had sole control over a major technological advance, but these have never lasted long, and usually occur when the technology is too new to be truly useful. Anyone else have any thoughts? Examples?

Some people are able to see things like infrared to a degree, and it’s common enough that the US military tests new recruits for the ability. Also, some folks hear different frequencies better than other people do. Some friends of mine have a habit of recording music with an old tube microphone that sets my teeth on edge whenever I hear anything recorded with it. They didn’t believe me that I could tell the difference, and kept trying to trick me, by playing different recordings to see if I could pick out the ones made with that mike. I always could. When I had to take a hearing test for a job a year or so ago, I found out that I hear high pitched noises better than most people.

If you really want someone with some kind of superpowers, you’re going to have to get into the realm of genetic manipulation.

I can think of…

People born without “cone” cells in their eyes have much better night vision than other people. The disadvantage is that they can’t see color. At all. Ever.

There was a Russian man named S. V. Shereshevskii who, apparently, was unable to forget anything—he had true “total recall.” Unfortunately, this left him often overwhelmed by the glut of information he absorbed, effecting his mind and his quality of life.

Likewise, there are a number of autistic savants who can perform phenomenal acts of intellect and memory—but otherwise, they’re…well, autistic.

Wasn’t there some five-year-old boy in Germany whose pediatrician published an article about his “superhuman” strength? Apparently the lad had some gene that gave him ridiculously low body fat and good muscle tone. You couldn’t tell by looking at him that he was any different (he didn’t have bulging muscles that were out of porportion to his body size). But he could do things like hold heavy buckets of water for a long time without getting tired … stuff like that. I can’t find a cite because I wouldn’t even know where to begin as far as googling.

HeyHomie. How about Muscular+German+boy?

Yeah, wasn’t this mentioned in the OP?

Well, I have a super power – I think I’ll call myself Captain Follicle. I have two hairs that grow at amazing rates. One is on my eyebrow, and it grows fast enough that I have to trim it every two weeks or so. The other is in the middle of my chest, and I’ve let it grow as long as eight inches before trimming it. The problem with both is that I can’t bring myself to let them grow as long as possible, because I’m afraid that if my true identity were known, one or more villians would go after my family.

So, for now, I’m just keeping a low profile and honing my skills.

How do world class supervillains and superheroes manage to stay so youthful and active? Do Lex Luthor and Superman look like they’re pushing 70? No.

Maybe they all secretly vacation in Okinawa.

Most top-tier athletes have some kind of genetic advantage over, if not their peers, the average man on the street. Manute Bol’s height, Riddick Bowe’s enormous hands, Lance Armstrong’s abnormally large lungs… These aren’t things you get through a lifetime of work and conditioning. Not sure it qualifies them for a bunk at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, but it’s close.

From the ever “reliable” Ananvova:

That’s a super power I would use on a regular basis (to save mankind, of course) :wink:

Wouldn’t that just make him have to pee twice as fast? =P

That’s the price every superhero has to pay.

I eat whatever I want and I never gain weight. Does that count?