Stranger Than Fiction: Could Superpowered Mutants Exist in 30 Years?
03.13.13 by Ryan
Back in 1963, The X-Men first debuted in Marvel comic books, revealing five teenaged "mutants" who were granted superpowers due to their genetic makeup and were shunned by society. 50 years later, the X-Men are not only one of Marvel's most popular comic book characters, but also a multimillion dollar movie franchise to go along with several cartoon adaptations, toys and video games. But how close are mutants to becoming a reality? If some reports are to be believed, it could be only 30 years before human beings are able to control the weather or shoot beams of energy out of their eyes.
The Strange Truth
"Advancements in gene technology could lead to a class of genetically superior humans by 2045," Britain's Ministry of Defense’s think tank Development Concepts and Doctrine Centre reported to The Sun after a two-day summit. "Human augmentation is likely to increase over the next 30 years. Discussions highlighted that it is possible that advances in biology, unequally shared across society, could generate genetic inequality."
The summit was conducted last summer between experts from universities, industry and government, though little more has been revealed about their findings. Considering the source is The Sun, a British tabloid, obvious questions arise as to the validity of the report, which was obtained by The Sun via a Freedom of Information request made by the publication. However, with the advancements made not only in technology but also in genetics, perhaps all that is lofty is the prognostication of the date the science will be available.
It's already established that the U.S. military is developing real-life "superhero" tech, not unlike the kind Tony Stark uses in Iron Man and The Avengers, but there are also examples of technologies that are available without the advantages of being in a military organization. For instance, advancements in cochlear implants have been able to restore hearing to the deaf and, seemingly even more drawn from the realm of fiction, a study at the University of Pittsburgh successfully revealed that a robotic arm could be controlled by the mind of a quadriplegic woman who had electrodes implanted in her motor cortex.
Besides technology, drugs are also helping human beings achieve better memory and attention, springing forth a debate over their ethical use. Yet both technology and pharmaceutical advancements may pale in comparison to genetics.
The advancements of genetic sequencing, the act of determining an organism's hereditary DNA, are become far less expensive, benefiting embryo screening after in vitro fertilization. Indeed, the way that our genetic information can be discovered and potentially altered continues to spark debate over how these discoveries could be used to create genetically engineered babies. "Many people fear the possibility of generating transgenic 'designer babies' may become reality at some point," pointed out Dr. Desmond Nicholl, senior lecturer in biological sciences at the University of Paisley, Scotland, in his text An Introduction to Genetic Engineering, 2nd ed. (via ETHOS). "In the early 1990s informed opinion said the same thing about cloning from adult cells. Dolly arrived in 1996."
While there's no research to suggest that genetic engineering will be able to help create a human being with the ability to teleport himself from place to place, but what about one with greater strength or endurance? What about someone with heightened senses or even a "sixth sense" as has been developed in rats? As scientists continue to study DNA, these advancements seem more likely, though whether that will occur by 2045 is still up for debate.
X-Men, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class
Possessing the ability to read minds, Professor X (Patrick Stweart/James McAvoy) puts together a school for people who also have the X-gene, which gives individuals superpowers. Taking a more pragmatic philosophy about mutant integration into society, this leads Professor X and his X-Men into opposition with his old friend Magneto (Ian McKellen/Michael Fassbender), who believes that mutants are superior to humanity.
Logan, aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), has the ability to heal himself which slows down his aging process. An experimental military program adheres his skeleton with adamantium, giving him metal claws which he uses to take revenge on his former commanding officer, who has been experimenting on other mutants.